In the Fall of 1998, the department added a public relations concentration. Students with a public relations concentration take courses in journalism, ethics, persuasion and advertising, as well as public relations. They learn to create brochures, newsletters and press releases. Students also study crisis management strategies and plan complete public relations campaigns for real clients.
Public relations is the way an organization relates to its key constituencies, including its employees, the surrounding community, government, consumers, shareholders, and often most importantly, the media. The public relations practitioner acts as an intermediary between the organization he or she represents and that organization's key audiences or publics. Public relations practitioners help an organization's management communicate its policies to its key publics, and PR practitioners make sure that management knows what the public thinks
More than 200,000 people work today in the field of public relations for government, business and nonprofit organizations, serving clients by preparing publicity materials, planning campaigns and conducting surveys and focus groups. Good public relations is about confronting a problem openly and honestly and then solving it, which is the best way to maintain an organization's credibility.
Even though human beings from centuries ago used persuasive tactics that could have been labeled PR, the profession known as public relations is merely 100 years old. In class, students wrestle with public relations' struggle with its own identity. In addition, they examine how technological advances, such as the Internet and other forms of interactive media are influencing public relations practices.
Donna Flayhan, Ph.D., Associate Professor