= Corporate Communications vs. Public Relations =
Corporate communications and public relations share so many commonalities that you would be forgiven for using them interchangeably. They are often grouped together in universities and by employers seeking to fill communications positions. Both necessitate that you excel in fundamental communication skills â speaking, writing, and an educated and innate ability to know what critical information needs to go to the people who need it, when they need it. There are some subtle and not-so-subtle differences, however, that may determine the path you choose
== Corporate Communications ==
Corporate communications encompasses all communication activities that an organization undertakes, both within and outside the organization. Internally, as a corporate communications professional, you help management build bridges between departments so that communication flows smoothly. For example, an internal newsletter or bulletin lets each employee know what is happening in each department, or alerts staff to any upcoming special visitors or events the organization has scheduled. Externally, you may do everything from writing annual reports to send to investors, toin community working groups for civic matters
== Public Relations ==
If you select a career in public relations, you will work closely with management in identifying, building and nurturing relationships between the company and various publics. Obviously good communication is inherent in this capability â both writing and speaking. Key to building these relationships is promoting your organizationâs reputation through highly visible channels, using reporters and editors to communicate about your employer based on information you provide. This sole function is often referred to as media relations. Controlling the messages that the public hears is also important, particularly if your organization faces a crisis and erroneous information or rumors could cause panic or tarnish the companyâs image
== Choosing a Path ==
Consider your strengths and what you enjoy when determining which educational or career path is more suited to your skills, experience or aptitude. If you have experience as a journalist or enjoy understanding how the media work, public relations is a good fit â but you will need persuasive skills and the ability to verbalize well, in addition to keen writing. Plan also to act as your organizationâs spokesperson, so you must be comfortable in interview situations â including on-camera â while aptly articulating the necessary messages specific to any circumstance. If you are better at writing than speaking, or have other creative skills such as graphic design or video editing, corporate communications is a better path. You should expect to still verbally communicate with audiences but if your job duties donât incorporate media relations, you wonât have to worry about improvising speaking scenarios
== Overlap and Differences ==
Itâs not unusual for public relations professionals to engage in corporate communication roles out of necessity. A natural communicator is an invaluable resource for all internal and external communications. Itâs more difficult if you have solely corporate communications experience â and no experience working with media â to fill a public relations position that requires media relations expertise. Like most relationships, building a credulous relationship with the media takes times and many organizations will favor established relationships when hiring for PR positions. Still, many communications and PR professionals successfully move between these two roles
- The Wall Street Journal: A Career in Communications/Public Relations
- Georgetown University, School of Continuing Studies: Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications â Curriculum
- Corporate Communication International at Baruch College/CUNY: Welcome
- Marquette University, Diederich College of Communication: Corporate Communication
- Public Relations Society of America: What is Public Relations?
- Forbes: What Does a Public Relations Agency Do?
Based in Central Texas, Karen S. Johnson is a marketing professional with more than 30 years' experience and specializes in business and equestrian topics. Her articles have appeared in several trade and business publications such as the Houston Chronicle. Johnson also co-authored a series of communications publications for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She holds a Bachelor of Science in speech from UT-Austin.