PR totem poll

Being a PR student in a journalism school, I have always wondered why there is not more emphasis placed on public relations as an important specialty that should be honed and cultivated.  There are so many misconceptions about what PR actually is that when students tell people that they are pursuing public relations it is looked at either with confusion or some type of immediate misconception.  I came across this blog called public relations princess, which had a post about certain buzzwords that are automatically used when it comes to PR that set the profession back because it sells practitioner’s efforts short.  This got me thinking about the lack of respect PR professionals receive in the workforce and which is why maybe many companies feel it isn’t necessary to have a practitioner on staff.

There always seems to be a line drawn between the print/broadcast people and PR professionals   It could possibly be a reflection of how Public Relations is treated in a university setting.  Schools should have a variety of PR classes that involve the many facets people can work in with this field and one that specifically teaches how to effectively research as a professional because that is an important part of working in this industry.  What should schools offer and do to make a public relations major more well-rounded before entering on the graduate level?

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5 Responses to PR totem poll

  1. srios says:

    I have seriously been having problems with this same issue for the past year. The Cronkite school needs to have a mandatory meeting for all PR majors (headed up by Mike Wong or an adviser) that outlines what we can do to utilize all the great opportunities we have and be the most prepared by the time we graduate. I wish someone would have told me how important marketing has become when it comes to public relations. Had I known two years ago I would have double majored with public relations and marketing, or I even would have planned to go to law school.

  2. alevy says:

    I think this is an interesting post about the true misconceptions of PR. Public relations is an industry that takes a lot of commitment, effort and dedication to be successful just like print and broadcast. I believe the main reason for this distorted and disillusioned view of PR is that no one truly knows the definition and what it entails (besides students pursuing it as their major). I think it is vital for (most) companies to utilize PR practitioners to enhance their brand and help achieve their business’s goals.

    In regards to PR and the university setting, I agree there should be more classes that involve the many facets available in the PR field. However, I believe specifically the Walter Cronkite school has a well-rounded variety of classes for students pursuing it as a degree. I think the courses are rigorous yet allow a hands-on experience to teach you the many aspects of PR (especially in JMC417). I do think that there needs to be more of an emphasis on research methods because before taking JMC417, I had only touched briefly on types of research in previous classes, but not how to necessarily carry them out which is a large part of compiling a successful campaign. I think there should also be more of an emphasis on social media (for those who may not know the benefits of using it for their professional lives) because it is becoming a large part of the fast paced industry. I think these courses in addition with the current curriculum will help graduates feel more prepared to step out into the real world.

  3. dsmith says:

    I’m really glad you brought this topic up. Although I feel like I got a valuable education from the Cronkite School, I do feel that the PR program was lacking. I forced myself to join PRSSA and get involved in the conversation about what direction my peers were going in their career. I needed to hear where others were interning at and where they aspired to work one day. It wasn’t until I attended the PRSSA National Conference that my eyes were really opened to how public relations relates to so many different industries. For example, I attended a seminar on fashion public relations and learned how press releases and pitches were translated into pre-styled spreads that the public relations practitioner would pitch to the editor of a fashion magazine to get their client (some clothing brand) publicity in the particular publication. I wish the Cronkite School would’ve offered more public relations specific classes rather than just campaigns and writing.

  4. srugeris says:

    I think that the fact that our program is in the journalism school helps to add credibility to the degree by attempting to pull away from some of the negative stereotypes of the public relations industry. In the last five years, perceptions of our industry have changed a lot and it will be interesting to see the uprising of the need for a strategic communication in college degree programs. The Hugh Downs School of Communication also offers a concentration in public relations if I am not mistaken.

  5. cmcelroy says:

    I absolutely agree that the university setting is a great place to start when it comes to making sure that PR pros have what it takes to succeed. I mentioned a few posts back that having a background in journalism is incredibly valuable in entering the PR workforce, but I do think there are a few things that we miss out on being so focused on journalism.

    Going through JMC 417, I noticed more than ever how little we’ve really done that has been specific to PR. Sure, we had 310, but for me, that class didn’t do much to prepare me for the type of work I would be doing. After 415, I felt like I had seen a glimpse into what a campaign entails, but it still all felt like amateur work. Moving from that level to 417 seemed like night and day, and there have been multiple times throughout the semester that I felt like I was trying out professional tactics for the first time. Meanwhile, after JMC 201, 301 and 315, I think any one of us feels like we could tackle news writing jobs without a hiccup.

    I guess my largest issue is the imbalance. I see no problem with a focus on journalism–in fact I think it is incredibly valuable–but I wish that we, and other PR students, were able to dive into the PR world with as much gusto as we were forced to go into the journalism side of it.

    And on that note, if we’re going to insist that all PR students get a crash course in print journalism, why not get some future reporters to learn a thing or two about our industry? Maybe we’d all come out of it a bit more well-rounded and ready for the real world.

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