What Are the Differences Between Community Relations Vs Public Relations?
To shed light on the key differences between community relations and public relations, we sought insights from professionals in the field. From the perspective of a Public Relations and Content Marketing Specialist to the insights of a Founder and PR Professional, here are seven distinct viewpoints that explore everything from target audience to community relations being a subset of public relations.
- Target Audience
- Depth of Relationships
- Stakeholder Management
- Geographic Focus
- Intent Differences
- Subsets Within PR
Public relations and community relations are two of the most crucial communication techniques for organizations; however, both are directed toward different audiences.
Public relations is concerned with how the organization is perceived by the general public, whereas community relations focuses solely on forming positive relationships with the local communities in which they are operating.
So, overall, the difference between these two techniques lies in the target audience and scope of influence.
Depth of Relationships
One of the main differences between community relations and public relations is the depth of relationships they build.
Community relations focus on deep, long-lasting relationships with local communities. They promote a partnership approach and emphasize engaging with community stakeholders personally. The aim is to establish a genuine connection and a strong bond based on trust, mutual understanding, and shared values. Also, community stakeholders are often involved in decision-making processes and co-creating solutions.
On the other hand, relationships built by public relations have varying degrees. While some are deep and long-term, others are more transactional and temporary. Everything depends on the specific stakeholders and objectives. As public relations often cater to a larger, diverse audience (e.g., investors, media outlets, government agencies), connecting on a personal level with all stakeholders—unlike in the case of community relationships—may be impossible.
The key difference between community relations and public relations is the scope of each field. Community relations focuses on building relationships between a company, organization, or government entity and its local community through public engagement initiatives.
Meanwhile, public relations typically looks to engage the broader market audience with an emphasis on media coverage and messages that reach national audiences.
One key difference between community relations and public relations is stakeholder management. Community relations is more focused on localized programs, and stakeholder management can be purpose-driven, bottom-up, and more personalized. In contrast, in public relations, programs are created more for a wider audience, and stakeholder management can be organization- or brand-driven, top-down, and targeted per segment.
The difference in stakeholder management is key in addressing the unserved and underserved markets. Hence, it is imperative to conduct your research and gather data before penetrating the market.
There are many differences between community relations and public relations, but a major one is a geographic focus. Public relations efforts are not limited to a specific geographic location and can span across regions, nations, or even globally. It considers a broader audience and may involve managing relationships with diverse communities.
Community relations, as the name suggests, is centered around a specific community or locality, and its efforts are geographically concentrated.
If you are considering entering either field, be sure to clarify your own goals before committing to a new job.
Community relations is when an organization or company reaches out to a community for one reason or another. An example might be donating 10% of profits to local libraries, as it is done with the intent of creating goodwill. On the other hand, public relations is more about image and reputation. For example, if Walmart donates 10% of profits to local libraries and releases a press release to news outlets about the great work they’re doing, it is an example of public relations.
Overall, community relations involves doing the work to create goodwill in communities, while public relations is more about alerting everyone to the work you are doing.
Subsets Within PR
Essentially, community relations is a subset of public relations. PR focuses on the process of building and maintaining a favorable public image for a company, brand, or organization among its key public groups and target audience.
These public groups can include stakeholders, media, investors, and more. It also includes managing how information is disseminated to the public and the media. Community relations focuses more on localized efforts and building positive relationships between an organization and the community it serves.
This entails addressing public concerns and community needs, engaging the community, and partnering or collaborating where appropriate.
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