Public relations and lobbying are two distinct things, but many times they are confused or even lumped together. In the political world, moves are being made with regularity these days to lump the two together when it comes to regulations. While there may at times be a fine line between the two, it is still important to understand they are different. The only way to truly appreciate these differences is to learn more about them.
Public relations is focused on information. PR professionals manage information and ensure it gets to who it needs to. They work to shape communications in a positive light. They work for many different types of employers, from nonprofit organizations to government agencies to Fortune 500 companies. They often serve as the public face of an organization or company. They may act as a representative for an official. The job is to communicate ideas clearly and to keep them neutral or positive, depending on the message.
PR helps to shape the public image of an entity. It can often mean the difference between the public loving an entity and despising it.
PR is similar in some ways to marketing. However, it isn’t about selling any product. It is more about selling an image, whatever that may be. For example, while marketing helps a fast food company sell more French fries, PR helps ensure the company remains well loved by the public. Both help ensure the company secures and maintains customers, but PR is focused on the company, not its products. This article explains a little more about PR.
Lobbying focuses on influence of things on the political front. Lobbyists, as explained by GW, can work in a variety of industries. Much like PR professionals, lobbyists usually represent a business entity, either nonprofit or for-profit. However, lobbyists don’t work on the company’s image. Instead, they work on pushing the company’s agenda. That could be anything from saving the environment to loosening regulations.
Lobbyists seek to influence change in laws and policies. They work to gain the support of politicians who will then act on their behalf when it comes to developing and voting on laws.
One of the biggest distinctions between PR and lobbying is that lobbying is highly regulated. Activities are monitored and carefully managed. There are specific laws in place that require lobbyists to report their actions.
Why They Are Confused
The reason why PR and lobbying are often confused is because many work together. When PR professionals start working on behalf of their companies in the political sphere, the line between PR and lobbying gets blurred. This is why some PR professionals are finding themselves under scrutiny and some areas are creating laws requiring regulations for PR that are a lot like those for lobbyists.
Companies can employ both PR professionals and lobbyists. While their jobs are slightly similar, they really have two different sets of goals. The focus of their work is on two different things, even though sometimes these can cross paths. When PR professionals enter the political arena, things can get confusing. This is prompting some changes in the way politicians deal with PR professionals.