PR Grad School Checklist: 10 Insider Tips for Picking the Right Program
By Ed Kanis, Instructor in Public Relations, Butler University
If you are a communications or public relations professional seeking to grow your career, income and skill set by pursuing an advanced degree, consider the following to help you pick the right program:
- PR practitioners should look for a broad program that takes an integrated marketing communications approach.
- Program offerings should include all the emerging tools and techniques practitioners deploy to communicate with their multiple and diverse audiences.
- Program should emphasize a strategic focus to sharpen practitioners’ critical thinking skills and proficiency in effectively marrying messages and audiences.
- Quantitative and qualitative research should be a priority to assist practitioners in building/managing relationships, programs and brands.
- Some international exposure is critical, especially for practitioners interacting with global audiences.
- A decided writing bent is paramount, keeping in mind that no matter the mode of distribution, practitioners need to craft compelling messages and tell stories that motivate action.
- Evaluation should be a point of emphasis, stressing analytics and metrics to demonstrate PR’s value and contribution to organizational success.
- Program should connect with consulting, allowing practitioners to work with external clients and to give good—and often difficult—counsel that is sometimes contrary to clients’ wishes, but essential to practitioners’ credibility.
- Program should provide a business framework so practitioners not only understand how and why to use multiple techniques, but how their work helps drive organizational performance.
10. PR practitioners proficient with the arsenal of communication tools and technologies available to them might consider an MBA, especially if their goal is senior management or establishing/joining a consultancy.
Ed Kanis is an instructor in public relations at Butler University. He also directs the College of Communications Internships/Experiential Education Program and its Center for Strategic Communication for Nonprofits. Previously, he spent more than 20 years working in communications and public relations program leadership for multiple higher education and healthcare organizations.