Every time someone asks me what my major is, and I tell them public relations, I get one of two responses:
1) A polite smile and head tilt, usually comes with a “how lovely” or “you’re so friendly, you’ll do so well in that!”
2) What the hell is public relations?
So, with my experiences in mind, I have come to the conclusion no one outside of public relations/journalism knows what public relations is or what public relations people do.
I’m going to do my best to inform everyone who was hopefully directed here by my awesome google friendly title what a PR major studies/learns (at least at the University of Florida).
1.) PR majors learn a lot of journalism. A LOT. I was almost a journalism major but decided on PR because I thought PR was similar to journalism without the writing of news articles.
I was wrong. Very very very very wrong. If you’re interested in PR as a major, just be warned you’ll feel like a journalism major for a few semesters.
2.) PR majors learn ethics. At UF there is a class dedicated to ethics, and ethics are discussed in lecture during the PR intro class and have been brought up in every PR class I have taken so far.
tl;dr: Ethics are VERY important in PR.
3.)PR majors spend a lot of time trying to explain to people what PR is. IF you work/study PR, the general public has no idea what you do/will do (I’m basing this claim on the fact I work the customer service desk at a retail store in Gainesville, and whenever someone tries to make small talk about what I study I have to spend a lot time explaining PR).
4.)One thing you will realize as a PR major is businesses need PR. One reason why is for crisis management. PR people have to be prepared for the worse at all times. One never knows where or when disaster will strike. Whether you’re a PR person who works in image management, within a major corporation or within a nonprofit organization, crises are always around the corner.
5.) Reputation is everything. Businesses and people rely on their reputations to survive in the business world, and without PR people managing these reputations, you’re going to have a bad time in the public eye. BECAUSE you are a PR major, your reputation will be important. Don’t post anything regrettable online and everything else your mom/dad/teachers have warned you not to do on the internet.
So there you have it, a few hints as to what PR people/majors do and need to know. Clearly this isn’t everything, just a brief glimpse of what I think is important to know about PR.