Overview

You’re always into what’s new and now, you’ve got a knack for organization and a flair for writing, and people always listen to what you have to say. If you’re all that, with a soft spot for glitz and glamour, welcome to the fast-paced, results-driven, done-yesterday world of PR.

According to Kent State University, public relations is “the strategic management of communication and relationships between organizations and their key publics.” In other words, public relations specialists control how organizations and their products or services are perceived by the public—and in turn, what image their paying clients (the organizations) portray. As a public relations major, you’ll learn about all the written, verbal, and visual elements that go into effective public relations. You’ll be prepped on how to write a press release and how to handle media attention on your client’s behalf. Your studies may also include forays into publishing newsletters, designing effective promotional ads, newswriting, broadcast media, and videography. Once you have a grasp on these basics, you’ll learn how to use them effectively to drive sales for your client and earn favor in the public eye. Knowing when to communicate what is essential in public relations. You’ll learn how to develop your information and messages, and how to make sure that information is portrayed in the best possible way to your targeted audience. The best PR pros will also know a little about event planning, product launches, public speaking, and damage control.

Public relations is in many ways an interdisciplinary major, and you’ll study elements from many other fields, including psychology, philosophy, languages, business, art, and many others. You’ll learn how to analyze public opinion and various research studies in order to determine what the public relations needs are for a certain organization. Problem solving and strategic planning abilities go a long way in the field, so hone them now. Oh, and there are ethical issues too, when it comes to “influencing” public opinion—you’ll want to maintain ethical business practices for the sake of your PR firm and your firm’s loyal clients.

Many programs require students to participate in an internship, which is a great way to see the world of PR from the inside, and some programs require students to choose a concentration, often in the business field. Be sure to research exactly what’s required as you determine what program is best for you.

SAMPLE CURRICULUM

  • Advertising and Society

  • Business Writing

  • Communication Theory

  • Media Management

  • Newsletter Publication

  • Photojournalism

  • Public Broadcast and Culture

  • Public Relations Campaigns

  • Public Relations Ethics

  • Publication Design

  • Reporting

  • Strategic Planning

  • Videography

  • Writing for Public Relations


HIGH SCHOOl PREPARATION

Although you probably won’t have any actual public relations courses in your high school, you can prepare for this major by taking classes that strengthen your communication skills, such as

English, languages, history, and art. Great interpersonal skills are also vital to a career in PR, so get involved in extracurricular activities to get used to interacting with all different kinds of people.