It's a good question: what's the difference between public relations and communications?
It matters because there's a century of investment in the idea of public relations: it has the professional bodies and trade associations, graduates have invested in PR degrees, many jobs are offered as PR roles. So it's not going to be easy to ditch the phrase.
Yet some are keen to try. In the Stockholm Accords, each mention of 'public relations' is followed by 'and communication management'. So they're hedging their bets. But what's the difference?
While all public relations roles involve communications, not all communications roles can be described as public relations. So communications can be seen to be a broader area.
Within universities, communications is widely taught as a scientific discipline. Public relations remains more of an art than a science.
In practice, public relations can be seen as an applied communications discipline. PR degrees are a good route to employability, even if the eventual roles turn out to be in corporate communication, marketing communication or corporate affairs.
Though there is a real distinction between public relations and communications, I'm neutral on the perennial debate over whether to use communication (singular) or communications (plural). The advocates of the former explain that the latter refers to telephone networks and networking protocols: information and communications technology.
We continue to offer public relations degrees, but we've changed the name of our subject group to Public Relations and Communications in order to include distinct courses such as journalism. This is clearly a communications discipline; and it's equally clearly not public relations (though there's some overlap).