Erica Emmich

Public Relations

Public Relations: The Big Picture

Why do corporations, charities, politicians, schools and movie stars hire public relations specialists? Public Relations specialists provide valuable services to organizations and individuals interested in maintaining good relationships with strategic stakeholders.

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Public Relations offers a progressive course of study to prepare students for careers in public relations and related professions, including human resources, marketing, advertising, social media management, and politics, to name just a few, that place an importance on building dynamic people-relationships.

Through coursework and practical experience you will learn to plan, implement, and evaluate communication strategies that enhance the relationship between an organization or individual and their respective stakeholders, consumers, constituents and publics.

The PR Specialist . . .

Public Relations (or “PR”) specialists aim to enhance the relationship between an organization or individual with strategic groups such as investors, employees, activist groups, government regulators and others. PR specialists help organizations cultivate relationships with all who are affected by the company mission. The work of PR specialists has additional value to society when they help clients practice social responsibility and respond to the interests of critical stakeholders.

  • Public Relations specialists can take on different roles, depending on the situation: they can be persuaders, advocates, educators, crusaders, information providers, and reputation managers.
  • The primary functions of a public relations practitioner include: conducting research, image making, counseling, managing, providing early warnings, communicating, and negotiating.
  • The tactics and tools used in public relations include publicity, news releases, speech, interpersonal communication, social media pages, web sites, publications, shows, radio, and others.

PR specialists must be skilled in various areas such as:

  • Writing: excellent skills in writing for traditional media (news releases) and social media.
  • Research: able to conduct qualitative (interviews) and quantitative (survey) research.
  • Planning expertise: proficient in planning, implementing, and evaluating communication campaigns.
  • Problem-solving ability: capable of working in teams to address complex problems.
  • Presentation: preparing speeches and multimedia presentations.
  • Design: designing print and electronic publications.
What You Will Study

As a Public Relations student, you will learn about current PR theories, research and practices, including the use of traditional and new media. Through course work and practical experience, you will be introduced to responsibilities and trends that have shaped the profession. You will also learn about:
  • Contemporary strategies that influence corporate/public interaction, social movements and political outcomes.
  • Research methods for diagnosing problems.
  • Genres of writing, including news releases, feature stories, fact sheets, media kits, speeches, company backgrounders, advertisements, newsletters, brochures and web publications.
  • Use of social media outlets.
  • Crisis management strategies.
  • Global developments in international communications.

The Public Relations curriculum is comprised of 120 credits (3 cr. per course) and includes five areas of requirement:

  1. Public Relations courses (18 credits) — sequential instruction specific to the major-concentration
  2. Common-Core School Curriculum (12 credits) — a broad foundation for understanding all communication and media disciplines (required of all students in the School of Communication and Media)
  3. Major Elective courses (18 credits) — further development of interdisciplinary and major-related expertise
  4. General education courses (39-42 credits) — exploration of studies that comprise a liberal arts education — e.g. in writing, humanities, math, and the natural, social and computer sciences (required of all University students pursuing a bachelor of arts degree)
  5. Free electives (21-30 credits) — exploration of additional areas of interest; or inclusion of a Minor

In addition, students often pursue internships to acquire practical experience related to the major.

For complete course requirements and descriptions, go to:

Careers in Public Relations

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a very positive outlook for careers in Communication and Media, including growth in Public Relations and related professions.

Below is a sampling of career titles related to the profession:

  • Media and Public Affairs Officer
  • Account Supervisor – Public Relations & Communication
  • Public Relations Strategist
  • Community Relations/Engagement Liaison
  • Political Campaign Director
  • Strategic Communication Director
  • Stakeholder Relations Advisor
  • Branding Officer
  • Lobbyist
  • Client Services Manager
  • Communication/Change Analyst
  • External Affairs Officer
  • Government Relations Director
  • Corporate Teams Leader
  • Compliance Manager
  • Customer Service Manager
  • Global Communications Consultant
  • Sales Manager

Visit the links below for additional professional and career-related information:

Communication Coordinator: Joel Penney

For questions about this program, please contact Yi Luo and Larry Weiner.

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