Proactive and reactive are two ways for a company to handle its public relations. In general, companies see being proactive as more beneficial than being reactive, according to Pan American Health Organization.
Proactive public relations planning is about taking active steps to plan an organisation's strategy to achieve a certain goal. Reactive public relations planning is about passively responding to a happening or inquiry after the event occurs, says Pan American Health Organization.
When a disaster strikes, a proactive approach for a health care organisation is to organise and make available information to the public. A reactive approach is to merely respond to questions that the media poses. For instance, the Pan American Health Organization, an affiliate of the World Health Organization, prefers that in the event of a disaster, such as a hurricane, officials involved in disaster planning should take the opportunity and responsibility to anticipate the needs of the public and help the public cope with a disaster through the media.
A proactive approach gives an organisation more control over their public relations planning and enables them to set the agenda. They decide how best to present the image of the company. A reactive approach gives control to someone else, with the company merely responding, according to Pan American Health Organization.