Journalism and PR

It seems like just about every time the discussion of the PR program in the Cronkite school comes up, I hear the same basic complaint: not enough PR experience. And truthfully, I can’t say I disagree. From the moment we began our journey through the school, we were on a journalism path. History of journalism, business of journalism, future of journalism, but where’s the PR? Thankfully, we get a crash course in 415 and 417, but I often hear people asking, is that enough?

Cindy Kim of The Marketing Journalist thinks so. In a recent post she discussed how journalists can transfer their skills into a successful PR career. She discussed how the basic elements of journalism directly translate into the PR world, and having those insights puts you at an immediate advantage in the industry.

The more I read, the more it all made sense to me. Studying journalism, we get to learn exactly what gets covered. In the past few years, I’ve had internships with a couple different publications, and in each of them I had to sift through press releases and make decisions about coverage. After a while, it becomes pretty easy to decipher when a release is worth it, and when it should be pushed to the side. Not only based on content, but often because of the writing style and tone of the statement.

Personally, I’ve never had an issue with the journalism-heavy nature of the program, but that stemmed largely from my indecisiveness. It took me a really long time to decide what I wanted to do, and having a degree that essentially translated into two areas of expertise was just fine with me. Now, though, I’m beginning to realize just how important the combination of studies is.

So what do you think? Is the journalism-PR hybrid the best educational route? Or are there other areas of study that should be more incorporated? I’ve heard of marketing and PR programs, as well as PR programs within a communications school. Color me biased, but I think Cronkite has the right idea.

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5 Responses to Journalism and PR

  1. crandell says:

    I agree with you on the points that PR is a branching industry from journalism and should be taught with a strong emphasis on reporting and publications. But, I do not think that sending graduates off into the real world with a total of 3 PR classes and calling that a PR degree with suffice. If I didn’t go above and beyond to join PRSSA (PR Student Society of America) and take specialty courses that mixes marketing, business and public relations I would be extremely lost. I think we focus too much on the journalism industry and how newspapers are dying and not enough on the effect this will have on public relations. How are tactics and techniques changing for us in the future? What will we have to do different with this updated technology and social media sites? Why aren’t there more classes dedicated for PR majors to learn these things instead of relying on us to figure them out through our internships?

    • penglert says:

      I spent my first two years at another university where the PR program was out of the Journalism school and was lumped with advertising. While I do think that having an advertising component is critical, I also have to agree that the emphasis on print journalism is also just as important.

      My criticism of the Cronkite program is that there is a serious disconnect between how the two fields TRULY relate in the workforce. The biggest complaint I hear from print majors is that “PR people” are obnoxious and pitch them junk. If there was a course for PR students that taught the real stuff, how to pitch, how to talk to reporters and how to operate within a business based on news I think the PR students would better see the connection and value in our program.
      Regardless, PR is a bit of the underdog of the Cronkite school, but not because of a lack of talent.

  2. dsmith says:

    I agree that learning public relations hand in hand with journalism is the best bet. I have also always been split 50-50 about whether to pursue a degree in journalism or public relations. I think that’s okay because a lot of journalistic qualities go into public relations and vice versa. I know a few professionals who have flip flopped and gone from reporting to public relations when the print industry started going downhill. While journalism classes are valuable, I think I would have liked to see more public relations classes so that everything wasn’t crammed into 415 and 417. In 415 we literally learned and drafted a new pr writing form every week, and in 417 we are designing an entire campaign on behalf of an organization. This semester I sit in my business and future of journalism class and have not heard the words “public relations” uttered once. I know the class is required but I can’t help but wonder if I’m wasting my time.

    I think Dr. G’s proposed addition of a research class will be extremely beneficial for future students graduating with a pr degree.

  3. hmick says:

    I have also been wondering about the Cronkite School and if they have dealt the PR majors a lesser hand. Yes, I think that having a strong journalism background is never a downfall but I also think that having more of a communications background would help too. I have noticed that at a lot of other universities where pr is offered it is through their communication schools. Whenever I tell people I’m studying journalism they immediately ask if I want to be a news reporter, never even crosses their mind that public relations is a part of the journalism field. I wish that we were exposed to more public relations classes before junior year just so we could be exposed to what it really is and have the option of changing majors before it’s too late. Even though I’m glad I stayed with this major, I’m sure some people would’ve really preferred taking at least one or two more pr classes before graduation.

  4. kmcnally says:

    I can see where the program is coming from when they have us focus more on the jourmalism side of things when we are PR majors, because we need to be well rounded in the whole field of journalism, but the part i don’t understand is that we are spending all this money to go to school, get a degree, and we aren’t getting all of the experience that we could possibly be getting with in the PR field. We do go through two classes of PR but i just don’t feel like im getting all the experience i should be if i want to enter the field. I feel like i need a little more. Those students in the print side get a whole lot more experience than we do in their area of study, and i feel like im paying ALOT of money and being from out of state it adds more money. so i am one of those students that wish i would have had a few more classes to better prepare me for the future.

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