In the age of information and brand consciousness, the lines between Public Relations (PR) and Restorative Justice-based accountability processes can sometimes blur. This has led to potential clients, stakeholders, and even critics mistaking one for the other. As pioneers in the field of Restorative Justice-based initiatives, Safe Mediation aims to clarify these distinctions while recognizing the work of PR professionals.

1. Core Objectives:

  • Public Relations (PR): Their objective is to genuinely represent an organization or individual, highlighting their vision, commitments, and values. It captures the essence of who they are, and communicates their purpose, with the intent to create bridges of understanding with stakeholders.

  • Restorative Justice-based Accountability: At Safe Mediation, our primary goal is to orchestrate a setting where all involved parties can discuss incidents, address grievances, understand underlying issues, and collaboratively find a path to resolution, all in the spirit of rebuilding trust and encouraging genuine repair. 

2. Nature of Communication:

  • Public Relations (PR):  PR focuses on a one-to-many communication approach, tailoring messages for audiences using media platforms, press releases, or social platforms. The tone is often polished, with an emphasis on cultivating a positive image. Occasionally, to prioritize their narrative, PR might seem to overshadow or downplay other perspectives or stakeholders’ experiences, leaning more towards the entity’s viewpoint.

  • Restorative Justice-based Accountability: Our approach prioritizes many-to-many or one-to-one communications. It’s about creating safer spaces for dialogue, ensuring every voice is heard, and facilitating conversations to foster mutual understanding, responsibility, and repair. The tone of communications is neutral, empathetic, candid, and transparent, directly addressing damages and recognizing the impact on affected parties. Upholding verified truth and acknowledgment remains paramount, allowing for a balanced narrative encompassing all perspectives. Our neutral stance ensures transparency while also respecting confidentiality and consent. We prioritize participants’ autonomy and dignity, underlining that their participation in the accountability process is entirely voluntary.

3. Outcome Desired:

  • Public Relations (PR): While immediate actions might focus on minimizing negative press or public opinion, the ultimate outcome for PR professionals is to reassure stakeholders, navigate through challenges, and cultivate a lasting rapport with their audience by providing honest communications and genuine representation.

  • Restorative Justice-based Accountability: At Safe Mediation, the desired result is genuine understanding and healing. We work to rebuild trust and balance, ensure that parties take responsibility for their actions, and collaboratively find pathways toward resolution and reintegration. It’s less about crafting narratives and more about ensuring that harm is addressed and repaired with ethics and responsibility. 


The Overlapping Zones. There are areas where PR and Restorative Justice converge. For instance, when a brand takes responsibility, apologizes, and takes corrective actions, they’re tapping into some aspects of restorative principles, even if viewed through a PR lens. On the flip side, some Restorative Justice actions, such as issuing public statements by the involved entity or individual, can appear similar to PR efforts. Yet, these actions originate from a genuine commitment to accountability rather than aiming to shape perceptions.

The True Separation. Restorative Justice and PR can look similar, but they’re different at the core. While PR aims to shape narratives and how people see something, Restorative Justice, like what we do at Safe Mediation, focuses on extensive dialogue, mutual understanding, and repair.

Unbiased intervention. Neutral grounding underscores genuine restorative processes. Safe Mediation addresses bias concerns with diverse mediator teams trained in neutrality, transparent methodologies, and clear intervention criteria. To ensure a genuine, bias-free accountability process, we actively invite participant feedback for continual refinement. 

A New Frontier in Conflict Resolution Safe Mediation introduces a novel approach that might be unfamiliar to many but harbors the potential for humanized resolution and healing. By understanding the distinctions and intersections between Restorative Justice-based accountability processes and PR, we can appreciate the unique powers each brings to the table and work towards a more comprehensive approach to conflict resolution.

Anaisa Seneda

Anaisa is a mediator and conflict resolution expert who helps leaders navigate difficult conversations and confrontations. She offers individualized sessions and safer, neutral mediations to unpack and resolve difficult conversations, with a track record of success in mediating family disputes, corporate storms, and community distress.

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