What are the Different Types of PR and How Are They Different?

As the premier PR firm in Northwest Indiana, South Shore PR takes pride in being the torchbearer of effective public relations, mastering the art and science that influences opinions, fosters goodwill, builds relationships, and elevates organizations to new heights. Today we want to share some of the different disciplines of public relations and what they focus on.

Public relations, isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to a client’s needs. We like to use the example of a medical professional. While a doctor has a general understanding of the body, some medical professionals specialize in certain areas of the body, such as a neonatologist, psychiatrist, or gerontologist. A public relations professional works in exactly the same way, there is the general knowledge of public relations, but some PR professionals specialize in an area of PR, thus making them more skilled in a particular area of PR. Today we going to look at the six most common disciplines of PR practiced today.

What is Media Relations or Media Relations PR?

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Photo Credits (top to bottom) People Magazine, Eyecare Business Magazine, BBC News, and The Today Show

A skilled media relations professional can transform innovation into a global sensation. By strategically pitching the story to the correct influential journalists and media outlets, PR professionals can ensure that the narrative resonates far beyond, ultimately reaching your intended audience. Media relations specializes in working with the media, and often PR professionals that focus on media relations may do so within an industry, such as tech, healthcare or banking. Knowing how to be a great media partner, while being savvy about the angle of the pitch, and when, where and how, will make all the difference in securing great coverage and reaching your intended audience.

What is Crisis Communication PR?

Photo Credit: Sprout Social

Crisis Communication and or reputation management PR is perhaps the most easily recognized, and the most skilled of all PR disciplines. When an organization or individual has run afoul of stakeholders, resulting in a public and potentially damaging reckoning for the instigating party, this is where crisis communications and reputational management come into play. A skilled public relations professional that specializes in this type of PR will come in and mitigate reputational damage, provide guidance for stakeholders, and eventually begin to repair relationships with the general public and any other wronged parties. You can look at some great examples of crisis management here: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/crisis-communication-examples/

What is Government Relations & Public Affairs?

Photo Credit: The Pan American Health Organization

This discipline of PR focuses on building relationships between an organization and government entities for the goal of strategic communication for the greater good, influence and the ability to make a positive impact on stakeholders. Examples of a public affairs professional would be a communications Director for a local police department. Examples of a government relations expert would be a lobbyist or government liaison within an organization. Examples of a public affairs campaign could be the Covid-19 vaccine campaigns, a local area government communicating an upcoming infrastructure project, or an industry lobbying for policy changes at the highest levels.

What is Product Launch PR and Branding?

Photo Credit: Gizmodo via Warner Bros./ Universal

An agency or in-house person or team that specializes creating interest and generating positive coverage for new products or services works in product launch PR, reputational practice and even branding. These individuals are key in developing strategic communication plans, organizing launch events, and securing media coverage for a product unveiling. A great example is of this type of PR is the phenomena known as Barbenheimer at the box office last summer. The two films combined as two distinct, yet cooperative marketing campaigns created box office gold in the summer of 2023. Read more about this magic here.

What are Consumer Relations?

Photo Credit: Time Magazine via Dove/RaiseTheBeautyBar

This area of public relations is very similar to customer service, however, the focus here is to protect and enhance an organization’s reputation while building a robust and positive relationship with stakeholders to enhance brand loyalty. Examples of this type of PR would be managing customer feedback on public forums, addressing concerns, and promoting positive customer experiences through various communication channels.

One of the most significant examples was Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign. You can read all about it here.  

What is Integrated PR?

Photo Credit: Apple

Integrated is where public relations concepts and tactics are combined with marketing campaigns and exercises. This is the most powerful way for any organization to create their brand, tell their story, and build long-lasting, loyal relationships with their customers. A great, recent example of an integrate PR campaign would be Apple’s Shot on an iPhone Campaign. Apple cleverly shot and advertised that this campaign was shot entirely on an iPhone, then encouraged fans to share their own films shot on iPhones on social media. You can read more about this innovative campaign here.

These are just a few of the most common areas of PR practice. At South Shore we specialize in many of these areas of public relations. We hope that this article is informative and has shared some of the complexities of public relations practice. No matter the discipline of PR, one goal remains the same, to build, and enhance a loyal relationship with key stakeholders.