Is There a Difference Between Public Relations vs. Public Affairs?

Are public relations and public affairs really all that much different? Yes and no. Here is what you should know about public relations vs. public affairs and how to determine which to utilize based on the current needs of your business:

How Public Relations and Public Affairs are Similar

It’s not surprising that public relations and public affairs are often conflated. Both public relations and public affairs involve communications and relationship building. Oftentimes, public relations and public affairs have the same goal, as well: to get a message out, shape public opinion, and elicit a public response. Additionally, many of the tactics used by public relations professionals and public affairs professionals will be the same to achieve their goals. For example, both public relations firms and public affairs firms will use traditional and digital strategies to get their messages out (such as through radio ads, social media posts, and online articles). 

What is the Difference Between Public Relations vs. Public Affairs?

There are two main differences between public relations and public affairs. The first is their focus. The focus of public relations is commercial. A public relations specialist will center their efforts on improving the public image of a company. On the other hand, the focus of public affairs is political. A public affairs specialist will center their efforts on promoting policies that a company favors or benefits from. 

Secondly, public relations and public affairs campaigns come with a difference in desired outcomes. A great public relations campaign will result in favorable brand recognition and more customers for a company. Alternatively, a successful public affairs campaign will likely result in the passage of policies or legislation that benefit a company.  

What’s an Example of a Public Relations vs. Public Affairs Campaign?

Many companies hire both public relations and public affairs specialists. Let's take at how the roles of a public relations specialist and a public affairs officer would differ in the same company. For example, let’s say an internet provider hires a public relations professional and a public affairs professional. A public relations professional will focus on making sure everyone in town knows the company’s name and that the public views the company as the best internet provider in the area. On the other hand, a public affairs professional will consider what legislation could help grow the company’s business. For example, they may work to pass a “internet for all” type bill to grow their customer base.

Where Can I Find A Public Relations Consultant for My Company?

406 Strategic Communications offers a variety of public relations services for both B2B and B2C businesses. To learn more about the public relations services 406 Strategic Communications can provide to your business, set up a free 30 minute consultation with owner, Alexandra Kozub.