Undergraduate and graduate programs in public relations (PR) share many of the same courses. Additionally, many of the courses in a PR program can be found in related certificate and degree programs in communication, marketing or advertising.
Graduate certificate programs, which usually last less than a year, and master's programs, which tend to take two years, are typically for public relations professionals who'd like to enhance their skills. Certificate programs generally consist of five classes, not including electives. Distance learning opportunities in this field are also available.
Here is an outline of common concepts explored in public relations courses:
- Project management
- Business management
- Communication ethics
- Emerging technologies
- Consumer psychology
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List of Courses
Introduction to Public Relations Course
Public relations courses span a broad spectrum of topics. An introductory public relations course prepares students to understand each component and how it functions in the profession, while learning the role of public relations in the modern world. Students examine real-world problems and solutions through case studies and independent projects. They acquire the skills to improve corporate images, release formal statements and navigate interview styles in an introductory public relations course.
Public relations writing classes introduce one of the most important components of image management: communications. Students establish communications goals, execute writing plans, put together media kits and evaluate the net effect of those efforts. Public relations writing classes help students to identify and target an audience through print, electronic and audiovisual media.
Public relations professionals must often make difficult ethical decisions; therefore, an ethics course is a vital part of any program. Students identify the moral questions in a given public relations scenario, then use reason to resolve them. After completing an ethics course, students are expected to demonstrate a sense of professional and personal responsibility.
Media Relations Management Course
The ability to develop relationships with the press is one of the most important skills in public relations. Media relations allow public relations professionals to gain exposure and access to the public. This course includes information about how the press works, how to pitch a story idea and to whom. Throughout the course, students begin to develop relationships with members of the press, including editors and reporters, and learn to determine what type of information to provide when working with members of the media.
Tools and Techniques Course
Students gain hands-on experience applying the tools and techniques of public relations. Topics include branding techniques, new media, emerging technologies and investor relations. In addition to studying these elements in-depth, students also have the opportunity to practice with technologies prior to demonstrating proficiency through projects and presentations.
Advanced public relations classes teach students to plan a comprehensive public relations campaign from start to finish. Students outline plans for contacting media outlets--including the radio, newspaper and television--and letting the public know about the product, client or services through other venues, such as the mail. They also create slogans and advertisements consistent with branding. This course is one of the last courses taken in a public relations program.