First year students are often confused about the distinction between Public Relations and Events Management.
I have studied both subjects as a joint degree at university and I can say that there are certain similarities but many differences too.
One thing that needs to be made clear straight in the beginning is the fact that:
Public Relations is not Events Management and vice versa
PR is reputation management. As a PR pro you look after your clients’ reputation and focus on establishing communication channels between them and their key stakeholders.
Events Management on the other hand is in its nature a project management that aims to create great events, festivals, music gigs and conferences. You employ all your creativity and imagination to put on amazing events that everybody will want to go to and that everybody will remember forever. Yes, there is a need for marketing and PR, but it is not the essential aspect of the job.
Let’s have a look at some of the similarities and differences.
Project management – both professions require accurate project management skills. You have to plan ahead in a great detail, undertake a wide research, create SMART objectives, schedules and deadlines and also think of ongoing measurement and post evaluation.
Creativity – there is a need for a creative edge. For your events and PR campaigns to be successful, you have to think ‘out-of-the-box’.
Stakeholder management – there are different stakeholders for a PR professional and Event Manager yet they all have to be looked after and kept satisfied.
Client relations – the client is the person who pays your wages so you have to keep them in the loop as often as possible.
Trade relations – monitoring the progress of the industry and your competitors is a key to success. You don’t want to miss out on the latest technology developments and new campaigns/events ideas. Your goal is to be seen as a key player and therefore, you also look after your company’s reputation.
Responsibility – there is a huge responsibility that comes with both of these professions. Any little mistake in PR can echo back with enormous consequences. Any gap in project management can result in people getting upset or even in more serious consequences such as injuries and death.
In-house & External Consultancy – PR and Events can be run from within the compan, in-house. But there are also external consultancies that plan and execute events and campaigns on behalf of a client or work in partnership with the in-house team.
PR campaigns are about ongoing engagement with the target audience over a period of time. There is a need for tactical thinking and planning so all the aspects of the campaign are in synergy. Events Managers do all the hard work ahead of an event and when the show is over it is over. Their hard work is ‘hidden’ and will get questioned only if something goes wrong.
PR acts ‘below the line’. The audience doesn’t know that the particular story they are reading in the papers is a result of Public Relations activity. Event goers know that somebody had to organise all of this for them.
Studying PR doesn’t make you qualified to work in Events Management and vice versa. For this reason, I decided to study a joint degree of Public Relations and Events Management at university. Both professions are interlinked. The PR practitioner has to know how to plan an event or a PR stunt and an Events Manager has to know how to “PR” the event so it gets coverage in the media.
Personally, I wanted to keep my options as open as possible in terms of my final career choice. I thought I could work as an Event Manager or as a PR pro one day. Additionally, the more skills you have the more money you can earn one day.
And here I am now, a recent graduate with a degree in Events Management and Public Relations, ready to start my professional life. I have chosen to pursue a career in PR and started working as an Account Executive in a PR consultancy.
I decided on PR over Events Management because for me there is just simply more on offer. You get to plan campaigns including PR stunts and events and you use different communication channels to engage with your target audience.