Public Affairs vs. Community Relations

My response to a question on GovLoop:

--Public affairs = defensive - respond to inquiries. Generally focus on mitigating potential or actual crises. Not so much about information dissemination other than outreach re specific events or campaigns. Often viewed as a propagandistic function by the public and with disdain internally. Negative image - "spinmeisters." Seen as a necessity. Emphasis on press relations. You don't go anywhere without them. This category does not include New Media, the freaks down the hall who Tweet etc. but who most people still don't understand.

--Community relations - these are the people who embed themselves in the local community through town halls, youth programs and events, etc. Viewed fondly internally and externally. But also seen as an unnecessary expense. Not so much defensive as ongoing stakeholder engagement. Ear to the ground.

(Good or bad, I count myself part of all these communities.)

As always all opinions are my own.