What is public relations (PR) and why should I study it?
When students around campus ask me what my major is I tell them, “Journalism and PR,” and their reaction most of the time is a response of, “Oh… that’s cool?”
Most students think journalism only involves writing for a newspaper and even less know what public relation is, let alone what it stands for.
Public relations is one of three professional emphases available for students to choose from once they declare communication/journalism as their major.
Electronic media and print media are the other two that students can choose to study.
It is more than just a field of study, it is the practice of promoting a favorable image between the general public and an organization or individual.
In a nut shell, public relation professionals are the eyes, ears and voices of a person or company to maintain a positive image.
It combines such career fields as advertising, marketing and journalism all into one.
In recent years, PR has grown rapidly and changed from traditional to more digital in order to keep up with the rest of the fast- paced world.
Do you remember when Tiger Woods had his sex scandal? Or the doping incident involving seven time Tour de France cyclist Lance Armstrong?
All of these cases involved public relations specialists to clean up reputations.
Even though public relations mainly deals with crisis management, that is not the only aspect of the emphasis.
Event planning, arranging public appearances, setting up press conferences, writing and giving speeches, doing publicity for a celebrity and researching are some of the other aspects of this career.
Public relations is a very broad and wide-ranging profession which means there are many careers available and niches for students to explore after graduation.
Before declaring public relations as an emphasis, students should understand what skills are needed in order to be successful in the major and beyond.
Writing is definitely the most important attribute any PR student should have to thrive in this career.
Students can expect to write press releases, newsletters, campaign plans, reports, update social media platforms and also blogs.
Proficiency in social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter is very important when keeping up with a company’s or an individual’s reputation these days.
Attention to detail, especially fact checking, public speaking, persuading, negotiating, designing print materials, reading and researching are other skills students should have in this career.
For more information about Shippensburg University’s Communication/Journalism Department and public relations visit the department website at http://www.ship.edu/Communication-Journalism/.