What Should I Major in if I Want to Work in Public Relations?

by Beth Greenwood

Public relations, as the term implies, has a great deal to do with people and relationships. PR managers and specialists are often the primary contact point between an organization and the public, which may include customers, investors or the media. Although certain skills and personal abilities can help you succeed in this job, your educational background may be less important, according to The Princeton Review.

Developing the Image

Providing the best public image for an organization is the PR person’s job. PR managers and specialists may write press releases or publicity brochures, manage public relations programs, handle fundraising activities or communicate directly with the public or media. They may develop an organization’s logos, signs or mottoes, arrange interviews and even draft speeches for an organization’s executives. In addition, the PR person may develop advertising campaigns, promotional efforts and fundraising strategies. People who work in public relations are always watching for ways to showcase their organization and its activities in the best possible light.

About the Career

Although most PR specialists train on the job, a bachelor’s degree is usually necessary for an entry-level job. Possible degree choices include public relations, communication or journalism. In some cases, a master’s degree may be the best choice; the US Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that one-quarter of PR managers had master’s degrees in 2010. Public relations can be stressful, especially if the PR person is managing several events at the same time. The hours in public relations usually add up to more than the typical 40-hour work week, according to the BLS.

Building Important Skills

Whatever you choose for your major, look for an education that will help build the skills you will need in your career. Public speaking, for example, will be valuable in any public relations role. Taking courses in drama or public speaking can help you learn or hone this skill. The ability to write well is another important skill. English and other writing courses will be valuable in helping you craft succinct, informative press releases. Interpersonal skills and knowledge of basic human psychology are other important qualities in public relations in areas such as fundraising or managing public perceptions.

Get a Broad Education

Given the sorts of skills a PR person needs, even those who choose an unrelated major should complete courses in advertising, business administration, public affairs, public speaking, political science and creative or technical writing, according to the BLS. Some employers may prefer a particular degree, such as public relations or journalism. Certification in the field is also available and may improve employment opportunities. The Princeton Review notes, however, that a broad education is often more important than a specific degree, because public relations requires you be familiar with a variety of topics.

About the Author

Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.

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