How is public relations different from journalism?

Journalism and Public Relations

This is a question that many people have. There are certain similarities between journalism and public relations, yet they have different roles and work differently. Both these disciplines involve communicating with the public and sharing information.

When it comes to the skills needed, public relations calls for strategic thinking, problem-solving capability, and other management skills which are unnecessary for journalism. Journalism is more about thinking on the feet, getting facts right and organising them and creating content as quickly as needed.

Different goals

The goal of journalism is to inform, educate and entertain. It plays a vital role in disseminating information and helps the public make informed choices. It’s also known as a pillar of democracy and known to even keep governments in check. The goals of public relations are quite different, they include providing information to a targeted audience, building trust and maintaining the image and reputation for clients. Public relations goes beyond providing information and seeks to change the receiver’s attitude and behaviour.


A journalist serves the public at large whereas a public relations practitioner works for the client. For instance, when there is a controversy or a scandal about a celebrity or a company, a journalist would strive to break the news. A PR professional on the other hand would look at ways and means of sweeping the scandal under the carpet or craft appropriate responses and guard the client’s reputation.

Journalists are trained to be objective while creating their content whereas PR professionals are subjective and committed only to the interests of the client.

Single vs multiple channels

A journalist would disseminate information via a single channel, the newspaper, television channel or other media house that he or she works for. A PR professional on the other hand uses multiple channels to reach out. This could include magazines, brochures, press releases, newspapers, television channels, radio, social media and so on.  Events are also used as an instrument of PR.

Freedom of expression

Journalism offers plenty of freedom of expression, in PR this has to be curtailed in favour of keeping the client’s interests always at the top.

Building trust

Both journalists and PR professionals need to build trust but how each approach this differs. While journalists build their trust by ensuring fair and accurate reporting, it’s a different ball game in PR. PR is about cultivated strategy to disseminate information and influence people to support a particular brand or organisation. PR is all about projecting a client in positive light while journalism gives two hoots about that and is more about bringing facts to light.


Both journalism and PR have ethics. Journalism has very clearly spelt out standards of ethics and its allegiance is towards the public. PR ethics are more tuned towards getting the client’s message across.