Public Relations Degree: Learn to Maintain a Positive Image in the Marketplace

Public relations degree

If you want to work in a fast-paced environment, like jobs that offer variety, and enjoy working with people and strategizing, consider pursuing a public relations degree. Public relations schools equip you with the skills to manage the communications, reputations, and relationships of companies, organizations, and individuals. The job of a publicist is to attract and retain the support of customers, employees, investors, communities, and other stakeholders. PR professionals work in a broad range of industries and organizations. Read on to discover how a public relations degree could enhance your career.

Types of Public Relations Programs

Public relations programs are offered at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level. Undergraduate degrees generally require a high school diploma, minimum GPA, and SAT or ACT scores, whereas graduate programs will require a bachelor’s degree in a related field, a minimum GPA, and GRE scores.

Associate’s degrees may qualify you for some entry-level positions in the public relations field, but most public relations specialists and managers have at least a bachelor’s degree in public relations or a related field. Majors that teach you how to read and write intelligently such as communications, journalism, and English can also help to lay the foundation for a career in public relations.

Associate’s and master’s degrees take two years to complete, while bachelor’s and doctoral degrees take around four years to complete. Some employers prefer hiring applicants that have a master’s degree in public relations, which typically takes one to two years. Doctoral degrees are appropriate for individuals who want to pursue teaching and research positions at universities or research careers in industry or business and can last from three to five years.

Public Relations School Curriculum

PR professionals are essentially image shapers. At public relations colleges, students learn how to plan and develop effective communication strategies, put their plans into action, and measure the results. Public relations courses that students might be required to take include the following:

  • Media research & writing
  • Rhetoric & social influence
  • Technical communication
  • Relationship marketing
  • Media & crisis communication
  • Persuasive strategies

A number of public relations schools incorporate internships into the curriculum so that students can gain hands-on experience developing strategies and pitching ideas for real organizations. Completing an internship is a great way to break into the field, because it provides a wealth of practical experience. A growing number of schools are also offering flexible online degrees, enabling aspiring publicists to complete their studies while holding down a full-time job.

Job Options in Public Relations

The role of a public relations specialist is to generate positive publicity for their clients and enhance their reputation. Tasks that a PR professional may be responsible for include cultivating and maintaining contact with journalists, setting up speaking engagements, speaking to the press directly on behalf of clients, and writing executive speeches and annual reports.

Many people with public relations degrees go on to work in advertising, marketing or public relations. Some people may choose to work as independent consultants or open their own consulting firms. Common jobs among public relations majors include promotions assistant, public relations specialist, public relations manager, social media manager, and journalist.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for public relations specialists is projected to increase at a faster than average rate of 23% through 2020, and jobs for public relations managers should grow about as fast as average at a rate of 16%. Due to the increasing speed for which news now spreads on the Internet, public relations specialists will be required to help with reputation management. Additionally, online social media outlets make the communications of organizations with their consumers more public, creating further opportunity for PR professionals. In 2012, public relations specialists received a median annual wage of $54,170, while public relations managers earned $95,450.

When it comes to operating in the public eye, knowing how to manage information flow and maintain a positive image in the marketplace is crucial. Skilled PR specialists who are capable of effectively managing an organization’s image via various communication channels in both traditional and new media are sought after. If you would like to build a career as a PR specialist, start working towards your public relations degree today.