Don't Confuse Public Relations With Media Relations

Posted on September 30, 2017 at 10:40 AM

It’s easy to confuse the two concepts. When most of us think of public relations, we think of the PR professionals who are skilled at getting coverage for our company in newspaper and magazines, on the radio or on TV. Traditionally, that was the most cost effective way to put a company and its message in front of the public. And, that is why understanding the difference between media relations and public relations becomes even more important.

Even before the Internet era, there was a difference between public relations and media relations. Media relations specifically involves building strong relationships with reporters, and editors who can cover your company either in the funeral trade press or the local community. A PR practitioner who is trusted and respected by those media folks can pick up the phone and always get a hearing–and often get a story for their client.

Public relations always involved the bigger picture. Public relations is all about how your firm is perceived by the community at large. This would include the press but also embraces your families, your prospects, members of the business community, and your fellow human beings. In this regard, it has always been essential that employees treat families well. It has always been essential that we understand families and provide services that are meaningful to them. Those are all fundamental underpinnings of good public relations.

Traditionally, a strong media relations campaign was the most effective approach to generate positive publicity, which, in turn, would lead to a positive perception of our company. Other than our one-on-one dealings with families, there was no other effective tool in a marketing arsenal.

When your marketing dollars are limited, you can still create an effective, content rich website that can serve as a component of public relations efforts. Because most families today will go to a website to learn about a company, you now can create the same positive perception in their minds that a media relations campaign might have created in days’ past.

Does this mean that traditional media is unimportant? No. In fact, if you have a strong web presence that includes a website, you have already begun your media relations campaign. That’s because traditional media reporters and editors are scouring the Internet for information, resources, research, and news. Thus, if you can position yourself on the web as a thought leader by your content marketing strategy, you are much more likely to be sought out by the press. In addition, when you reach out to the media to pitch a story, I can guarantee that before considering doing a story, they will be visiting your website.

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