Corporate communications and public relations are similar but are also very different.
I spent my summer working at a marketing/advertising organization as a corporate communications intern. I’m going to be honest: When applying for this position, I thought that it was a public relations internship. I figured, “Oh, they just want to be different have a different title.” But I was wrong.
Well… I’ll rephrase that: I wasn’t completely wrong.
See, corporate communications (“CorpComm”) and public relations (“PR”) have many similarities–so many that no one would be at fault if they used the titles interchangeably. Their direct and indirect differences will help determine what path you want to take in this all-compassing industry.
But first, let’s get the similarities out of the way. Understand that for both sectors, it is always necessary to comprehend to the role of journalist and how the media works. Effective oral and written communication should be second nature in this industry. You will develop and execute communication plans, but the audiences and targets may be different.
Any and all communication activities your mind can conjure up may (and will) fall into this position. CorpComm incorporates everything that goes on with the organization both internally and externally-both requiring the use of those good writing skills. Internally, CorpComm bridges the gaps between higher levels and lowers levels, and different departments–all to ensure that everything flows smoothly within the organization. An example of this would be a corporate newsletter or internal website that keeps everyone update with what is going on in the organization. On the external side, you could anything from writing a press release to writing up annual reports for investors or the top leadership.
In PR, you will work closely with management in building and identifying strong relationships between the organization you’re working with and its publics. Good communication is second nature in the broad industry, but writing and speaking are highly imperative. Major keys in building these strong relationships is promoting your organization or client’s reputation through the best communication channels available. This can include pitching to reporters and editors, aiming to gain a spot in the public’s mind for a long as possible. In PR, your job is essentially controlling the messages your organization sends out to the public so it can represent your organization/client well. Message control is highly imperative during a time of crisis or a scandal right out of a television show.
Which Is the Best Fit For You?
Though I was a CorpComm intern for just a couple of months, I already know that this sector works best for me. CorpComm is best for those who are not good at public speaking or simply would rather not (like myself!). In this sector, writing is essential and the messages and audience are likely to always stay the same. For PR, one must house great persuasive skills and the gift of verbalization. In PR, there may come a time when you may have to play the role of spokesperson for your organization/client, so great interviewing skills and being comfortable in those situations are necessary.
All in all and in the end, it’s all the same on the surface–especially once you get into the flow of things and find out that you’re using skills in your PR writing or communication research courses.
References: Johnson, K. S. (n.d.). Corporate Communications vs. Public Relations. Retrieved June 1, 2016.