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.


Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal is an author, independent brand researcher, and adjunct marketing professor with 20 years of varied experience. An avid researcher and prolific, creative writer, Dr. Blumenthal's interests span communication, marketing, qualitative media content analysis, political rhetoric, propaganda, leadership, management, organizational development, and more. An engaged citizen, she has for several years worked to raise awareness around child sex trafficking and the dangers of corruption at @drdannielle on Twitter. You can find her articles at Medium, and, and she frequently answers questions on Quora. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own.