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Proactive and Reactive Public Relations: The Difference and Why Both are Necessary

You put your heart and soul into your brand. You created your story through your own hard work. But unless you have a public relations strategy, you can lose control of the narrative.

Two very important strategies in your toolkit should be proactive and reactive public relations.

Proactive PR is taking control of the message that is being relayed to customers and the public about your business before anything negative happens. It’s telling your story and framing your organization the way you want to be seen. It’s controlling the narrative you worked so hard to build.

Pros of Proactive PR:

  • Builds positive rapport and good will with the community
  • Strengthens reputation
  • Prevents crisis
  • Builds credibility
  • Allows you to tell your story and control the conversation
  • Promotes your organization and its offerings


Reactive PR is is attempting to combat negative issues or events related to your organization. The key to doing it successfully is having the right skill set. You have to have the right people within your agency to respond quickly, and they need to really know what they are talking about.

Pros of Reactive PR:

  • Repairs negative publicity
  • If done properly, rebuilds trust


Some of the tools in both these strategies are the same. You can provide press releases to the media to share good news or to respond to damaging news. You hold a press conference to make announcements and you can hold one to make apologies.

It’s also important to have good relationships with the media, those connections are key in public relations for both proactive and reactive strategies.

Either way, successful companies should always have a plan for the good times and one for the bad.

As we learned from 2020, absolutely nothing is entirely in our control.