Title: Public relations education and the public relations profession
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Title: Public relations education and the public relations profession
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Hornaman, Lisa Beth
Publisher: State University System of Florida
Place of Publication: Florida
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Publication Date: 2000
Copyright Date: 2000
 Subjects
Subject: Mass Communication thesis, M.A.M.C   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Mass Communication -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
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Summary: ABSTRACT: A review of public relations literature uncovered various views of scholars, educators and practitioners regarding professionalism and education in public relations. Many scholars agreed that public relations is not yet a true profession, such as medicine or law. Scholars agreed that public relations education is a key element in public relations' progress toward becoming a true profession, and that consensus is needed regarding the undergraduate college public relations curricula before progress can be made in improving it. The purpose of this thesis was to study how undergraduate college education prepares graduates to become professionals. The study surveyed a sample of public relations educators and practitioners about the knowledge and skills they feel are critical for public relations students to become successful professionals. The questionnaire asked public relations educators and practitioners to rate the importance of knowledge, skills, courses and subjects that are taught to public relations students. Respondents also were asked to indicate how much they thought certain subjects are taught today in public relations education, how well prepared graduates of public relations programs are, and the importance of nine criteria of the public relations profession. The findings indicated that public relations educators, practitioners and those who consider themselves to be both educators and practitioners agreed about the importance of knowledge, skills, courses and subjects that are taught in undergraduate public relations education.
Summary: ABSTRACT (cont.): The three groups also tended to agree about how much certain subjects were taught, the best college to house the public relations department, and the best major for the student who wants to work in public relations. Less agreement was seen regarding nine criteria of the profession. It appears that public relations education is helping public relations become a true profession. The first step appears to have been accomplished: public relations educators and practitioners agreed about the importance of subjects that should be taught to college public relations students, and more importantly, they agreed that the knowledge, skills and courses recommended by the Commission for Public Relations Education are all important for students to learn. And while not all respondents agreed about the best career plan for future public relations professionals, most respondents felt that majoring in public relations was the best thing for students who want to work in public relations.
Summary: KEYWORDS: public relations education, public relations profession, Commission for Public Relations Education
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.M.C.)--University of Florida, 2000.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 130-135).
System Details: System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
System Details: Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Statement of Responsibility: by Lisa Beth Hornaman.
General Note: Title from first page of PDF file.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains vi, 136 p.; also contains graphics.
General Note: Vita.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00100768
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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Resource Identifier: oclc - 47681925
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PUBLIC RELATIONS EDUCATION AND THE PUBLIC RELATIONS PROFESSION


By

LISA BETH HORNAMAN
















A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF
FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


DECEMBER 2000















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank my advisor, Dr. K. Sriramesh, for his support and guidance.

His extensive knowledge about public relations and his research experience were

invaluable. He helped me from start to finish, from helping me pick a research topic to

guiding me while I finished my thesis work long-distance. I especially appreciate Dr.

Sriramesh's confidence in my abilities, which gave me the self-confidence I needed to

complete my research.

I would also like to thank my boyfriend, Andrew Reddish, for his extensive help

with technical issues. He wrote all the computer code that was used to collect and process

the data from my questionnaire. Andrew also helped me through the frustrating times I

encountered during my thesis work by being a great listener, and he supported me during

my last semester of school.

Finally, I would like to thank my sister, Kelly Hornaman, my mom, Judy

Hornaman, and my dad, Tom Hornaman. All of my family members encouraged me to

finish my thesis, and they were great at listening. I would especially like to thank my

mom, who taught me to never give up.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S .................................................................................................. ii

A B ST R A C T ............... ...................................................................................... v

CHAPTERS

1 RATIONALE AND PURPOSE OF STUDY ............................................................1

R a tio n a le .................................................................. 1
P u rp o se of Stu dy .................................................................. 6

2 LITER A TU R E R EV IEW ................................................................ ....................... 7

The Public R relations Profession ......................................................... .............. 7
Public R relations E education ..................................................................................... 17
R research Q questions .................. ..................................... .... .... ...... ...... .. 39

3 M E T H O D O L O G Y ............................................................................. .....................4 1

R research D esign............................ .................... 41
S am ple................ ................. .............. ...... 42
T he Survey Instrum ent............... ... .. .... .............. ... ............... ....... ................ .. 45
D ata A n aly sis ................................................................................................................ 4 6

4 F IN D IN G S .............................................................................4 8

D em og rap h ics ................................................................... 4 8
Findings........................................... .............. 53

5 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS ................................ ...............79

What Public Relations Graduates Should Know ...................... .............. 80
What Public Relations Graduates Should Be Able to Do....................................... 82
What Courses Should Be Taught in Undergraduate Public Relations Education ........ 84
Subjects That Should Be Taught to Public Relations Students ............................. 87
H ow M uch Subjects A re Taught N ow ............................................................... ......90
The Home of the Public Relations Department ................... ............................. 92
The Best Two Career Plans for Future Public Relations Professionals.................... 93

iii









How Prepared Public Relations Graduates Were ................... ................ 95
The Importance of Nine Criteria of the Public Relations Profession ........................... 96
D iscu ssio n ................... ..... ................................................ ............... 9 7
Com prisons w ith Past R research .......................................................... ......... .... 103
W hat is Unique about This Research................................ ......................... ...... 107
Implications-Recommendations for Education .............. .................................. 108
Recom m endations for Further Study .................. ....................... ..... ............ 109
Conclusion ............ ................................ ............... 109

APPENDICES

A ELECTRONIC MAIL COVER LETTER................... ................. .............. 111

B ELECTRONIC MAIL FIRST FOLLOW-UP LETTER ....... .. ............... 112

C ELECTRONIC MAIL SECOND FOLLOW-UP LETTER.................. .......... 113

D CONSENT FORM AND QUESTIONNAIRE .............................. .....................114

R E F E R E N C E S ........................................ ....................................................... .... 13 0

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............................................................. ............... 136















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in
Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass
Communication

PUBLIC RELATIONS EDUCATION AND THE PUBLIC RELATIONS PROFESSION

By

Lisa Beth Hornaman

December 2000


Chair: K. Sriramesh
Major Department: College of Journalism and Communications

A review of public relations literature uncovered various views of scholars,

educators and practitioners regarding professionalism and education in public relations.

Many scholars agreed that public relations is not yet a true profession, such as medicine

or law. Scholars agreed that public relations education is a key element in public

relations' progress toward becoming a true profession, and that consensus is needed

regarding the undergraduate college public relations curricula before progress can be

made in improving it.

The purpose of this thesis was to study how undergraduate college education

prepares graduates to become professionals. The study surveyed a sample of public

relations educators and practitioners about the knowledge and skills they feel are critical

for public relations students to become successful professionals. The questionnaire asked

public relations educators and practitioners to rate the importance of knowledge, skills,

courses and subjects that are taught to public relations students. Respondents also were

v










asked to indicate how much they thought certain subjects are taught today in public

relations education, how well prepared graduates of public relations programs are, and

the importance of nine criteria of the public relations profession.

The findings indicated that public relations educators, practitioners and those who

consider themselves to be both educators and practitioners agreed about the importance

of knowledge, skills, courses and subjects that are taught in undergraduate public

relations education. The three groups also tended to agree about how much certain

subjects were taught, the best college to house the public relations department, and the

best major for the student who wants to work in public relations. Less agreement was

seen regarding nine criteria of the profession.

It appears that public relations education is helping public relations become a true

profession. The first step appears to have been accomplished: public relations educators

and practitioners agreed about the importance of subjects that should be taught to college

public relations students, and more importantly, they agreed that the knowledge, skills

and courses recommended by the Commission for Public Relations Education are all

important for students to learn. And while not all respondents agreed about the best

career plan for future public relations professionals, most respondents felt that majoring

in public relations was the best thing for students who want to work in public relations.















CHAPTER 1
RATIONALE AND PURPOSE OF STUDY

Rationale

A profession is a vocation or occupation requiring advanced education and

training, and involving intellectual skills (Guralnik 1984). Examples of professions

include medicine, law, theology, engineering and teaching. The status of public relations

as a profession is a highly debated issue. Some practitioners and educators have argued

that it is a profession (Jackson 1988), but others (Agee et al. 1995, Bivins 1993, Cameron

et al. 1996, Hainsworth 1993, Ryan & Martinson 1990, Sallot et al. 1998, Wylie 1994)

have argued that it has yet to gain status as a profession. Saunders and Perrigo (1998)

noted that professional status and professionalism are not the same. They argued that

professional status is achieved only when an occupation has met certain criteria basic to

all professions. However, they wrote, professionalism is a combination of professional

skills and ethics which all professionals should aspire to achieve.

Public relations' status as a profession is important because it influences the

credibility and reputation of the occupation, the methods used to teach it, the

accountability and credibility of practitioners, the quality of the professionals and the

quality of work done. In addition, as Ryan and Martinson (1990) stated, professional

status allows the practitioner autonomy and control over decision-making, and the ability

to perform tasks more efficiently and effectively.








2
In order to reach professional status, scholars (Cameron et al. 1996, Ryan &

Martinson 1990, Saunders & Perrigo 1998, Wylie 1994) proposed that public relations

must meet certain criteria that are basic to all professions. These criteria include

maintaining a code of ethics, serving the public interest, ensuring that practitioners of the

profession have specialized technical skills, having a body of esoteric knowledge, having

specialized and standardized education, providing a unique service and having

membership in professional organizations.

Education is one of the criteria of a profession, and it is an important aspect of an

occupation's status as a profession. Education provides a standardized method by which

professional skills and the criteria of a profession are taught to potential practitioners.

Formal undergraduate and graduate education is necessary in order for public relations to

reach professional status. Ferguson (1987) explained the importance of education:

Public relations will never reach the status of a profession, as long as people can
get into the field and prosper without having completed a fairly rigorous course of
study in such subjects as economics, philosophy and law.

Specifically, formal education in public relations is essential in order for the occupation

to become a profession. Today, almost anyone can practice public relations. Although the

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) offers accreditation, neither accreditation

nor licensing is mandatory for practitioners to engage in public relations activities. In

addition, most practitioners have a college education, but only a small percentage have

degrees in public relations, as was found in a study by Sallot et al. (1998). In their study,

the authors surveyed 251 members of PRSA, 62% of whom had bachelor's degrees and

32% master's degrees. However, only 6% of those surveyed said they had a degree in

public relations. When those practicing public relations do not have similar educational








3
backgrounds, confusion results about the exact duties of the practitioner, among other

things. If most, or all, practitioners had an education in public relations, and that

education had a standardized format, there would be consensus among them about what

services the profession should provide. Thus, the criterion of providing a unique public

service would be met when some consensus is achieved about the services practitioners

should provide.

The criterion of autonomy could be met if education was standardized to include

instruction about playing the managerial role (Baxter 1993, Falb 1992, Sallot et al. 1998).

Currently, many public relations programs focus predominantly on technical skills. For

example, the undergraduate course work at the University of Florida focuses on technical

skills, while the graduate course work focuses on managerial skills, theory and research.

At Syracuse University, the undergraduate course catalog indicates that the following

subjects are taught to undergraduate public relations majors: news and public relations

writing, public relations principles, graphic arts, public relations research, public relations

campaigns, communication law and public relations management (Syracuse University

2000). These courses tend to focus on the technical aspects of public relations, such as

writing, graphic design and campaigns. The graduate public relations program, however,

focuses a bit more on theory, administration and research. The courses taught at the

graduate level at Syracuse University include communication theory, news writing,

public relations writing, press law, organizational public relations, public relations

research, and public relations administration and research (Syracuse University 2000).

Undergraduate students, as well as graduate students, should be taught how to make

themselves heard by management, possibly by using research to show the value of public








4
relations. If students are taught these skills, the new generation of public relations

professionals can work to elevate the occupation from that which provides a support

service in an organization to one that contributes to an organization's strategic planning

process.

Another criterion, establishing a body of scholarly and esoteric knowledge, (Ryan

& Martinson 1990, Saunders & Perrigo 1998, Wylie 1994) could be met by having

standardized formal education for practitioners. Those who have a college education, and

especially those who have a graduate education, seem to possess more knowledge and the

ability to contribute to a body of knowledge. A body of knowledge takes time to create,

but if more practitioners are educated in public relations, there will be a greater pool of

people who have the specific knowledge necessary to contribute to such a body of

knowledge.

The most recent report from the Commission on Public Relations Educations

(1999), gave recommendations for public relations education. The Commission wrote the

following:

Public relations has come of age, and with that has come a critical need for
broadly-based education that is relevant and connected to the practice. (p. 1)
The Commission recommends that the undergraduate public relations curriculum
be grounded in a strong liberal arts and social science education. A minimum of
five courses should be required in the major. Coursework in public relations
should comprise 25 to 40% of all credit hours, with at least half of these courses
clearly identified as public relations courses-the remaining 60 to 75% in liberal
arts, social sciences, business and language courses. The Commission strongly
encourages a minor or double major in the liberal arts, social sciences or business.
(p. 4)

The Commission recommended that students in undergraduate public relations

programs should develop knowledge (what they should know and understand) and skills

(areas of competence necessary to enter the profession).









The necessary knowledge includes the following:

* Communication and persuasion concepts and strategies
* Communication and public relations theories
* Relationships and relationship building
* Societal trends
* Ethical issues
* Legal requirements and issues
* Marketing and finance
* Public relations history
* Use of research and forecasting
* Multicultural and global issues
* Organizational change and development
* Management concepts and theories

The necessary skills include the following:

* Research methods and analysis
* Management of information
* Mastery of language in written and oral communication
* Problem solving and negotiation
* Management of communication
* Strategic planning
* Issues management
* Audience segmentation
* Informative and persuasive writing
* Community relations, consumer relations, employee relations, other practice areas
* Technological and visual literacy
* Managing people, programs and resources
* Sensitive interpersonal communication
* Fluency in a foreign language
* Ethical decision-making
* Participation in the professional public relations community
* Message production
* Working with a current issue
* Public speaking and presentation
* Applying cross-cultural and cross-gender sensitivity

The Commission recommended the following courses as part of the ideal

undergraduate major in public relations:

* Introduction to Public Relations
* Case Studies in Public Relations








6
* Public Relations Research, Measurement and Evaluation
* Public Relations Writing and Production
* Public Relations Planning and Management
* Public Relations Campaigns
* Supervised Work Experience in Public Relations (internship)
* Directed electives

Purpose of Study

Given this rationale that college-level education contributes greatly to a

profession, the purpose of this thesis is to study how undergraduate college education

prepares graduates to become professionals. This study will survey a sample of public

relations educators and practitioners to determine if students are being taught the criteria

necessary for public relations to be a profession. Educators and practitioners will be

surveyed about the knowledge and skills they feel are critical for their students to become

successful professionals. Educators and practitioners will be surveyed to determine what

skills they feel their new recruits need to have and what they consider to be the

characteristics or criteria of the profession. When the responses from these two sides are

tabulated, the results should provide a better understanding of how education contributes

to the profession. The results should also reveal areas in which education can be

improved to help prepare better public relations professionals.















CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

The Public Relations Profession

This section provides a review of literature on the professional status of public

relations. The purpose of this review is to clarify why one needs to study the linkage

between public relations education and professionalism. The review also examines

arguments put forth by different practitioners and educators about the current status of

public relations as a profession, the criteria necessary for it to become a profession, and

proposed methods by which public relations can become a profession. The discussion

section reviews how public relations has met (or not met) the criteria necessary for

becoming a profession.

The majority of the literature reviewed indicated that the field of public relations

is not yet a profession (Agee et al. 1995, Bivins 1993, Cameron et al. 1996, Hainsworth

1993, Ryan & Martinson 1990, Sallot et al. 1998). Only one source (Jackson 1988)

claimed that public relations is already a profession. Jackson's arguments will be

discussed below. Some authors (Cameron et al. 1996, Ryan & Martinson 1990, Sallot et

al. 1998, Saunders & Perrigo 1998, Wylie 1994) discussed the criteria that must be met

for an occupation to become a profession. In addition, authors have proposed methods by

which public relations can become a profession. These methods include serving the

public interest (Bivins 1993); defining professional standards (Cameron et al. 1996);

developing, using and enforcing a code of standards or ethics (Bivins 1993, St. Helen








8
1992); certifying professional education programs (Hainsworth 1993); accrediting

practitioners and encouraging continuing education (Paluszek 1988); understanding and

using social science research (Ryan & Martinson 1990, St. Helen 1992); using

negotiation models to teach public relations (Saunders & Perrigo 1988); and licensing

(Wylie 1994).


The Criteria of a Profession

Many scholars have reviewed the criteria that public relations must meet before

becoming a profession. Cameron et al. (1996) reviewed the criteria proposed by various

authors and summarized them as five elements of a profession: professional values,

membership in professional organizations, professional norms, intellectual tradition and

technical skills. Other criteria that Cameron et al. (1996) identified include having a code

of ethics, working for the public interest, providing a unique service, and having

autonomy.

Ryan & Martinson (1990) stated that the following criteria must be met by the

field for public relations to be considered a profession:

* The use of special skills and esoteric knowledge.
* Contribution to an esoteric body of knowledge.
* Commitment to public welfare and the profession.
* Responsibility to professional organizations and other professionals.
* Independence from control by people outside the profession.
* Membership in professional organizations that can, and do, discipline members.
* Adherence to a written code of ethics.

Saunders & Perrigo (1998) reviewed five criteria necessary for public relations to

gain professional status: specialized education involving a body of knowledge, skills and

research; provision of a unique and specialized service that is recognized by the

community; emphasis on public service and social responsibility; autonomy and








9
responsibility to make decisions; and enforcement of a code of ethics by a self-governing

association of colleagues.

Finally, Wylie (1994) presented four characteristics of a profession: a well-

defined body of scholarly knowledge, completion of a standardized course of graduate

study, examination and certification by a state, and oversight and discipline (if necessary)

by a state agency. These criteria, he argued, are the criteria of the "real professions," such

as medicine and law (p. 3).

The review of literature revealed only one advocate who argued that public

relations is already a profession. Jackson (1988) claimed that the question of whether or

not public relations is a profession is "hardly debatable any longer" (p. 27). He argued

that public relations is already a profession because it performs the essential function of

building relationships. He stated that it uses data from psychology, sociology and other

social sciences to influence relationships and serves the public interest. He also noted that

PRSA has a Public Relations Body of Knowledge and a Code of Professional Standards

(PRSA 1988).

The literature review for this study identified several scholars who argued that

public relations is not yet a profession. Agee et al. (1995) argued that public relations

"does not qualify as a profession" similar to occupations such as medicine and law (p.

133). This is because public relations does not have prescribed educational standards,

mandatory apprenticeships or state laws that govern it. However, Agee et al. stated that

progress is being made toward elevating the field to professional status through theory

development, research, and publications in scholarly journals.








10
Bivins (1993) stated that "As the practice of public relations attempts to become

the profession of public relations, clarification of its ethical obligation to serve the public

interest is vital...if it is to be accepted as a legitimate profession by society" (p. 117). He

argued that public relations is striving to become a profession, and it has a responsibility

to serve the public interest before society can recognize it as a profession. The Arthur

Page Society, a group of public relations professionals, follows the advice of Arthur

Page: "All business in a democratic country begins with public permission and exists by

public approval."

Cameron et al. (1996) and Sallot et al. (1998) argued that public relations is not

yet a profession because there is no consensus about specific standards of performance.

They listed the following key elements of a profession, for which standards should be

defined: technical skills, salary levels, research competency, organizational status, ethical

performance, education, accreditation, and gender and racial equity. They stated that only

when consensus is reached among practitioners and educators about the standards of

performance for those key elements will public relations "achieve and maintain

professionalism in the field" (1998, p. 2).

Hainsworth (1993) contended that until efforts are made to develop public

relations into a profession, "it is not realistic for public relations practitioners to expect to

see themselves recognized as true professionals by anyone other than themselves" (p.

313). He argued that professional education is a major element of any true profession,

and that public relations people do not fully realize how important education is in helping

elevate public relations to professional status.








11
Ryan & Martinson (1990) held that public relations has not met all the criteria of

a profession as set out by traditional models. (Their criteria are listed in the "criteria"

section.) The authors argued that few practitioners use specialized knowledge such as

research techniques, and few contribute to a body of esoteric knowledge. Unless

practitioners begin to use research more consistently and contribute to theoretical

research, "it is unlikely that public relations will become widely recognized as a

profession" (p. 390). Finally, Wylie (1994) also claimed that public relations does not

meet all the criteria of a profession. (His criteria are also in the criteria section.) He

argued that public relations has only met one of the criteria of a profession: a defined

body of knowledge.


How Public Relations Can Become a Profession

Bivins (1993) argued that public relations must adhere to a set of values or ethics

and serve the public interest before it can become a profession. He cited numerous

scholars and professionals who have argued that public service and ethics are an

important criterion for the profession. He offered four paradigms that can guide a

practitioner in serving the public interest. The first paradigm states that the public interest

will be served if every practitioner acts in the best interest of his or her client. The second

paradigm states that the practitioner should also serve public interest causes. The third

paradigm requires professionals to assure that every person who needs or wants public

relations services receives them. The final paradigm states that practitioners should

improve the quality of debate over issues important to the public. By using these

paradigms to serve the public interest, Bivins argued, public relations practitioners can

help the occupation achieve the status of a profession.








12
Cameron et al. (1996) proposed that the study of the public relations profession

must "challenge the assumption that professional standards have yet been defined, much

less achieved" (p. 43). The authors surveyed a sample of 251 practitioners who were

members of PRSA seeking information on whether or not uniform professional standards

exist in the public relations field. The respondents viewed four aspects of public relations

as already having defined professional standards: ethics, accreditation, education, and

writing and editing skills. The respondents viewed licensing, public relations' position on

the organizational chart and public relations as part of the dominant coalition as areas in

which standards have not yet been defined. Only by defining standards of performance,

the authors argued, will professionalism be achieved and maintained in public relations.

A third recommendation for elevating public relations to professional status was

made by Hainsworth (1993). He argued that one of the most important elements of a true

profession is professional education. He claimed that although three things have lent

professional credibility to public relations-the founding of the Public Relations Society

of America (PRSA), the accreditation of practitioners and the attempts to certify

academic programs-for public relations to truly become a profession, its educational

programs should be certified by PRSA, and graduates of those certified programs should

receive accreditation from PRSA. He asked, "How can there be any kind of professional

control over the practice of public relations if those of us in the profession constantly fail

to fully appreciate formal, professional education as the major-if not the only-route

into the profession?" (p. 312).

Paluszek (1988) recommended that practitioners become accredited and continue

their education throughout their careers in order for public relations to become a








13
profession. He argued that there is "life after accreditation," (p. 30) and that a full-scale

curriculum, including articles, monographs, books and courses, should be offered for

each level of practice. This will allow practitioners to continue their professional

development throughout their careers and will contribute to the status of public relations

as a profession.

Another recommendation was made by Ryan & Martinson (1990), who argued

that for public relations to be recognized as a profession, practitioners must contribute to

the development of a body of esoteric, theoretical knowledge by doing social science

research. They argued that social science research is part of the special training needed by

practitioners, and this special training will help the occupation to become a profession.

The authors discussed their study done on social science research in public relations, the

results of which indicate that practitioners agree that knowledge of social science

research techniques are essential to the profession.

The sixth recommendation was made by Saunders & Perrigo (1998), who argued

that public relations will the achieve status of profession when practitioners achieve

professionalism, which is a combination of technical skills and ethics. The authors

reported the findings of their research on the use of negotiation as a model for teaching

professionalism. By using negotiation to teach public relations, they held, the two

components of professionalism, ethics and problem-solving, will be taught

simultaneously. By using negotiation games to enact professional decision-making,

students learn to consider ethical, human and organizational needs concurrently. "In

many ways," Saunders & Perrigo argued, this model adapts closely to the realities of

practice where there are seldom any unequivocal right answers" (p. 64).








14
St. Helen (1992) offered a variety of ways by which public relations can become a

strong profession. These included profession-wide suggestions such as improving

education, behaving ethically, educating the public and business about what public

relations is, doing research, and gaining consensus on industry priorities. The suggestions

also included personal practitioner improvements such as becoming specialized in a

certain business sector and having a strong business background.

Wylie (1994) challenged Hainsworth's arguments for certification and

accreditation of new graduates. Wylie argued that the Accrediting Council on Education

in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC), not PRSA, was lawfully chosen by

the federal Department of Education and the Council on Post Secondary Accreditation

(COPA) to accredit public relations. He also argued that PRSA does not have an

academic standing and that few schools could afford accreditation and certification.

Instead of certifying schools and accrediting graduates, Wylie argued that licensing is

necessary to protect the public and ensure that public relations is recognized as a

profession. He argued that professions such as medicine and law require students to

complete graduate studies and pass a state-administered exam to become licensed. By

following these procedures, he maintained, public relations would be "following the

procedures of the real professions" (p. 3).


Discussion

Based on this review of literature, one is compelled to conclude that public

relations is yet to gain credibility as a profession. Most scholars seem to believe that

public relations has not met all of the various criteria described as necessary for

professional status. Little published information is available about the sentiments of








15
public relations professionals on this issue. Although the occupation has made

considerable progress toward becoming a profession, it has not yet become one. In

addition, it is crucial that public relations educators, scholars and practitioners work

toward the development of standardized college-level education in order for public

relations to gain status as a profession. This is the most important step that must be taken

toward professional status and also the area in which the least progress has been made.

This study seeks to identify the sentiments of scholars and professionals on this issue.

Examination of the various criteria necessary for public relations to become a

profession, described in the previous section, can be summarized into eight criteria. Each

of the eight criteria were mentioned in two or more of the articles, which suggests

agreement among the authors that these criteria are important. This study evaluates the

sentiments of scholars and professionals about the presence of these criteria in public

relations education.

1. Maintaining a code of ethics and professional values and norms. This first criterion of
professional status has made considerable progress, almost completely with help from
the PRSA. Although authors such as Bivins (1993) argued that PRSA's Code of
Professional Standards for the Practice of Public Relations (1988) is insufficient, the
fact that PRSA has a written, published and long-standing code (since 1950) proves
that progress has been made toward this criterion. However, the percentage of public
relations practitioners who are members of PRSA is unknown, as is the percentage of
professionals who actually prescribe to the code and use it in everyday practice.
Therefore, this criterion still needs to be fully met.
2. Commitment to serve in the public interest and to be socially responsible. This
criterion has been met by some practitioners. It appears to go hand-in-hand with the
code of ethics criterion. That is, those practitioners who prescribe to a set of ethics or
professional values are also the most likely to serve the best interests of the people.
However, this criterion has certainly not been met by most practitioners because most
still focus on serving the client or employer. The criterion will not be met until the
majority of practitioners practice ethically and prove to the people the responsibility
and credibility of the profession.
3. Having a body of esoteric, scholarly knowledge. This requirement necessary for
public relations to become a profession is slowly being met. PRSA has made progress
toward developing a body of knowledge, and there are books, professional journals









and other periodicals dedicated to public relations. For example, a search of the
University of Florida's library catalog provides a list of 11 periodicals and scholarly
journals related to the public relations field. However, a search for medical
periodicals in the same catalog provides 365 entries, and a search for law periodicals
provides a list of 841 entries! Therefore, it is obvious that the public relations body of
knowledge has a long way to go before even coming close to the size of the bodies of
knowledge established by accepted professions such as medicine and law.
4. Having specialized and standardized education, including graduate study. This fourth
criterion necessary for public relations to become a profession has also made
progress. Peterson's Guide to Four-Year Colleges (1998), a comprehensive and
widely-used college guide, indicates that there are more than 235 colleges and
universities that offer public relations as a major of study. However, the same guide
lists more than 800 schools that offer pre-medicine, more than 840 schools that offer
pre-law and more than 880 schools that offer education as a major. Another
significant difference between public relations education and education for
professions such as medicine and law is that the more established professions usually
require graduate study. There are few schools that offer graduate education in public
relations. In addition, there are differences in the methods used to teach public
relations. For example, some schools take a more journalistic approach than others.
Therefore, the development of specialized education is doing well. However, a
uniform code of standards for education is lacking.
5. Having technical and research skills. Part of this criterion, having technical skills, is
widely-met. It appears that most people who practice public relations know how to
write press releases, design publications, hold press conferences, etc., because it
would be difficult to practice public relations without performing these activities.
Practitioners may learn these skills through education; most probably learn through
experience. However, as discussed by Ryan & Martinson (1990), many practitioners
do not know how to use research techniques, which is an important aspect of this
criterion.
6. Providing a unique service to an organization and the community. This requirement
has been partially met. However, public relations would be seen as a more unique
service if all public relations activities were called public relations, not public
information, communication, and so forth. In addition, the use of these nomenclatures
indicates that public relations is not well-defined (even practitioners have trouble
describing what they do!), and many people do not understand what public relations
is.
7. Membership in professional organizations. This criterion has potential, but only a
small percentage of practitioners currently belong to professional organizations, such
as PRSA and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).
However, a growing number of public relations students are members of the student
version of PRSA, the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). For
example, many students participate in the University of Florida's PRSSA chapter. It
is likely that future generations of practitioners, especially those with public relations
education, will join PRSA and other professional organizations.
8. Having autonomy within organizations and being given the responsibility to make
decisions. This criterion has only made a small amount of progress. Many








17
practitioners are technicians, and they need to be managers in order to have more
autonomy. It will be necessary for public relations to become more widely-known
before its value is realized and practitioners are given more decision-making
authority.

Finally, Wylie (1994) proposed two additional criteria that were not discussed by

the other authors cited in the literature review. Those criteria are examination and

certification of public relations practitioners by the state (after completion of graduate

study), and oversight and discipline by the state. The multitude of criteria that different

authors have suggested, such as these suggested by Wylie, indicate that there is not

consensus about the exact qualifications necessary for public relations to become a

profession. When scholars, educators and practitioners can come to a consensus about

what is needed to make public relations a profession, only then will the occupation make

significant progress toward becoming a profession.


Conclusion

In conclusion, it is clear that public relations has not yet reached the status of

profession. The majority of authors reviewed for this section provide arguments detailing

why public relations is not a profession, and they suggest various methods by which it

can achieve professional status. Their criteria provide a starting point for making public

relations a profession, but a consensus needs to be reached regarding those criteria before

progress can be made. Formal, standardized college-level education can contribute

greatly to public relations' progress toward becoming a profession.


Public Relations Education

The literature reviewed indicated that most scholars, educators and practitioners

felt that public relations is not yet a profession. Furthermore, they agreed that public








18
relations education can greatly contribute to public relations' status as a profession. The

authors also provided a variety of suggestions for improving undergraduate college

education in order to further the professionalization of public relations. First, these

authors' arguments for specialized college education will be presented, and then their

recommendations for education will be discussed.


Professionalism and Education in Public Relations

More than half of the articles reviewed for this study included some discussion

about the professional status of public relations and how undergraduate college education

can contribute to the profession. In those articles, various authors argued that public

relations is not yet a profession, and suggested that college education can lead to

professionalization. Some authors (Kruckeberg 1998, Pratt & Rentner 1989, Wylie 1990)

discussed how public relations has not met certain criteria of a profession, while others

(Bissland & Rentner 1988, Turk 1989, White et al. 1992) noted how education is linked

to the professional status of the occupation.


Public Relations Has Not Met the Criteria of a Profession

Some authors (Kruckeberg 1998, Pratt & Rentner 1989, Wylie 1990) specifically

stated that public relations has not yet met the criteria of a profession. These authors

mentioned that criteria such as having a well-defined body of knowledge, a well-defined

code of ethics, standardized graduate programs, state licensing, professional associations

or specialized training have not been met. Wylie (1990) argued that these criteria often

mark traditional programs, and that public relations is "not a profession in any real sense"








19
(p. 57-58). However, Pratt & Rentner (1989) said that "public relations as an occupation

is generally acknowledged to meet the requirements of full-time activity" (p. 56).

Kruckeberg (1998) argued that public relations is a professional occupation which

requires specialized professional education. However, he said that "public relations as an

occupational specialization cannot meet traditional criteria of a profession" (p. 238). For

example, he contended that the collection of research literature in public relations is very

small, and that there are not enough colleges that offer a Ph.D. in public relations.


How Education Relates to Professionalism

A number of authors have argued that education is the key to developing the

profession of public relations. They have proposed that specialized training or college

education and continuing education in public relations is necessary to elevate public

relations to the status of a profession (Bissland & Rentner 1988, Brownell & Niebauer

1988, Gaudino & Vanden Bergh 1988, J. Grunig 1989, Turk 1989, White et al. 1992).

For example, J. Grunig (1989) contended that "the profession of public relations requires

specialized scholarship and education" (p. 23). He argued that students need education in

public relations, rather than journalism or another field, in order to practice a more

sophisticated model of public relations. He also stated that public relations students have

not been taught much about research or theory building, which are essential tools for

elevating public relations to the status of a profession.

Turk (1989) argued that public relations can only control its status as a profession

when "it also controls entry into the profession, and the educational process involved in

becoming a public relations practitioner" (p. 51). She surveyed 561 PRSA members from

Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas about the importance of managerial skills for








20
public relations specialists. Her research found that public relations practitioners and

managers think that students should learn about the business and non-communication

aspects of their future public relations careers.

White et al. (1992) found in their telephone survey of 287 students at a major

Midwestern university that when students were exposed to the unique body of public

relations knowledge, a unique product was created-the public relations professional.

That is, the students who were exposed to public relations knowledge at the university

were found to have unique knowledge about public relations that would classify them as

public relations professionals. They argued that "progress is, perhaps, being made in

public relations' quest for professional status" (p. 43). They contended that college

education has contributed to public relations' status as a profession by teaching future

practitioners the body of knowledge.

Conversely, Schwartz, Yarbrough & Shakra (1992) found in their study of 461

practitioners and CEOs of public relations firms that some practitioners believed that

once public relations becomes more respected as a profession, public relations education

will also be respected. "Many practitioners see the status of public relations education as

directly tied to the status of the profession: Six in 10 agreed that as the public relations

profession becomes more established and appreciated, so will public relations education"

(p. 19).

However, like most of the other authors, Heath (1991) argued that the opposite is

true: that planning is needed to make sure that education will help public relations

progress toward true professional status. "As the discipline moves toward increased








21
professionalism, the curriculum may follow. But it is quite likely that curriculum needs to

lead" (p. 192).

Sallot et al. (1998) stated that because educators have a strong influence on the

future of the field, they are responsible for teaching professional standards to their

students, which will in turn elevate the profession. They also argued that there is minimal

agreement among educators and professionals about what constitutes professionalism

(Sallot et al. 1997). In addition, Hazleton & Long (1988) argued that in order to

contribute to the profession, public relations students need to learn about the unique

functions and processes of the field. By learning about the unique aspects of public

relations, students will be equipped to contribute to public relations' status as a

profession.

Bissland & Rentner (1988) argued that "one of the most important ways that

public relations has attempted to professionalize itself is through developing increasingly

specialized training, especially through university degree programs" (p. 3). Their study of

650 full time public relations practitioners belonging to the PRSA and the IABC found a

trend toward more specialized education in public relations, with one-fourth of

practitioners aged 29 or younger having specialized public relations education.

Finally, it was stated in The Design for Undergraduate Public Relations

Education (1987) that "one of the unequivocal hallmarks of every recognized, respected

profession is a program of formal education" (p. 3). This report, published by the PRSA,

offered suggestions for teaching public relations at the college level, and argued that

formal academic training is essential to the profession.








22
Recommendations for Public Relations Education

The literature reviewed here pointed to a wide range of recommendations for

public relations education. These suggestions emphasize the lack of consensus among

scholars, educators and practitioners about public relations education, and this lack of

consensus hinders public relations' progress toward becoming a profession. In fact,

several authors reviewed for this study discussed the need for public relations education

to be formalized and the need for consensus among educators and practitioners about

what the curriculum should include. Coming to a consensus may be the first step in

creating uniform curricula that will help public relations become a profession.

The most commonly-mentioned recommendations for improving public relations

curriculum include providing students with a broad liberal arts background; teaching

management, research, ethics and theory; teaching writing and technology; and providing

students with internship opportunities. Also mentioned were: having licensing or

accreditation, having a balance of the genders in school and in the workforce, requiring

students to have a minor or specialization, having a separate public relations department

within the college that houses it, and teaching public relations from an Integrated

Marketing Communications (IMC) perspective.


The Need for Consensus About Public Relations Curriculum

The need for consensus among scholars, educators and practitioners about a

uniform public relations curriculum has been debated. Some authors have argued that

because public relations is a relatively new field, a consensus has not been formed

regarding the topics that public relations students should be taught and the courses that








23
should be offered in undergraduate education (E. Caudill et al. 1990, VanLeuven 1989a,

Sallot et al. 1997 & 1998).

Edward Caudill et al. (1990) argued for consensus on teaching goals and the body

of knowledge. They contended that because public relations is a relatively new field and

because a number of undergraduate public relations courses are taught by journalism

professors who are unfamiliar with the field, a consensus has yet to be reached about

what should be taught. The authors cited Farrar (1988), who said that educators should

"set forth clear and specific statements of competencies our graduates should possess"

(cited in E. Caudill et al., p. 17).

VanLeuven (1989a) interviewed three past Public Relations Society of America

(PRSA) presidents about the state of public relations education. One of the presidents

interviewed, Jackson, argued that public relations "must have uniform standards" (p. 10).

He said that in order to improve education, educators need to be familiar with new

standards. He also noted that public relations curriculum is outdated.

Sallot et al. (1997 & 1998) found in two studies that educators and practitioners

have distinct views on professional standards, and they argued that in order to improve

education, practitioners and educators need to come to a consensus about those

professional standards, including education. Consensus is important because without it,

students do not receive uniform training, which leads to confusion about the roles and

functions of public relations practitioners. This confusion makes it hard to define exactly

what public relations is, which further leads to a lack of respect for the profession.








24
Recommendations for Improving Public Relations Curriculum

Providing a broad liberal arts background

Many authors have discussed the need for public relations students to receive a

broad liberal arts education in addition to the more specific classes required for the major.

The authors suggest studies in liberal arts fields such as psychology, sociology, social and

behavioral sciences, business and humanities (Baxter 1993, E. Caudill et al. 1990, Falb

1992, Gibson 1992-1993, Kruckeberg 1998, McInerny 1995, Nelson et al. 1992,

Schwartz et al. 1992, VanLeuven 1989a, Wylie 1990). Edward Caudill et al. (1990)

argued that public relations is a profession "requiring the broadest kind of education." In

addition to knowing the literature of public relations, public relations students need to be

knowledgeable in many other subject areas.

Other courses recommended as part of a general liberal arts education include fine

arts, government, law, sciences, economics and history (Guiniven 1998, Heath 1991,

Pincus & Rayfield 1992). Guiniven (1998) surveyed 192 public relations executives

about their views toward public relations education. The respondents felt that business,

ethics, history, journalism, psychology and law were among the most important

components of a good public relations education. Executives ranked journalism as the

most important component, business the second-most important component, and ethics

the third-most important component.

Heath (1991) offered an agenda for public relations education, in which he argued

that public relations practitioners and scholars must be familiar with the humanities, fine

arts, social sciences, government, business management, law, and scientific and technical

issues. He contended that it is important for public relations students to learn these








25
auxiliary disciplines so that they can become managers and "prevent further intrusion into

their ranks by persons who were not educated in a communication discipline" (p. 192).

Pincus & Rayfield (1992) have suggested that "the generalist nature of the

profession creates almost a smorgasbord of 'must know' topics" (p. 14). They noted that

although employers and educators sometimes have differing views about what should be

included in the public relations curriculum, these two groups are the ones which can

choose the "best" combination of courses. The authors wrote that certain subjects are

commonly suggested for inclusion in a good public relations curriculum: writing,

internships, business, marketing, organizational behavior, economics, computers,

graphics and desktop publishing, public speaking, small group communication and

research.

In addition to these liberal arts courses, authors have proposed that students

receive education in communication core courses or communication science. Kruckeberg

(1998) recommended that public relations students should be able to use the knowledge

and skills ofjournalism, mass communication and speech communication. Similarly,

Wylie (1990) suggested courses in mass communication, journalism, and internal and

external communication. Kopenhaver, Martinson & Soruco (1989) studied educators'

support for core mass communication courses and found that educators were supportive

of the requirement of core courses for students. The educators who responded to their

survey felt that core communication courses were important in public relations education,

and about 74 percent of respondents disagreed that core courses were included in their

school's curriculum because of tradition rather than "recent objective appraisal" of the

importance of the courses (p. 69).









Teaching management

The need for management education was the most widely-mentioned

recommendation for improving public relations education. A majority of authors

reviewed for this study recommended that public relations curricula include a

management or business course (Baxter 1993, Berkowitz & Hristodoulakis 1999, E.

Caudill et al. 1990, Sallot et al. 1998, Falb 1992, Gaudino & Vanden Bergh 1988, Gibson

1992-1993, Griffin & Pasadeos 1998, J. Grunig 1989, Guiniven 1998, Heath 1991, Hunt

& Thompson 1988, Kinnick & Cameron 1994, Lordan 1996, McInerny 1995, Nelson et

al. 1992, Petrook 1995, Pincus & Rayfield 1992, Schwartz et al. 1992, Sparks & Conwell

1998, VanLeuven 1989a, Turk 1989, Wakefield & Cottone 1992). Pincus & Rayfield

(1992) argued that the practice of public relations is becoming more management-based

and strategy-driven, and education is needed in both communication and business. Not

only should public relations students be taught about management and business, they

argued, but business students should be taught about communication. This is necessary,

they contended, so that managers will understand what public relations professionals do

and public relations professionals can work side-by-side with management.

Heath (1991) argued that public relations needs to be taught with a management

component. He contended that public relations practitioners and scholars "should not

research and practice communication independent of business management concepts" (p.

187). Heath wrote that management education will help public relations practitioners by

giving them the knowledge to create strategic communication campaigns that are a blend

of business plan, public policy plan and communication plan. Such communication








27
campaigns, he argued, are better able to meet social responsibility standards while also

meeting the interests of stakeholders.

Kinnick & Cameron (1994) studied the management component of undergraduate

curricula across the United States and found that most undergraduate programs do not

teach management. The authors argued that public relations management needs to be

taught to undergraduates in the public relations sequence, and the management courses

should teach skills and techniques such as accounting, budgeting, scheduling, monitoring

program implementation, strategic decision-making and personnel management. They

also recommended that instructors emphasize to students that a lack of such management

skills will have a "long-range, negative impact on their life-time earnings and

advancement" (p. 83).

Gibson (1992-1993) also recommended management skills for public relations

students. "Not only is there relatively ample evidence that practitioners need management

skills, but it is becoming evident that public relations fulfills a definite management

function" (p. 46). The data from Turk's (1989) study suggested that practitioners and

managers believed that students should learn management skills while still in college.

She also argued that education needs to prepare students for lifetime careers that will

most likely include the need for management skills or involvement. James Grunig (1989)

contended that "public relations education will produce the best practitioners if it is

taught with a management component" (p. 19). In addition, Guiniven (1998) conducted a

study of 192 public relations executives from Fortune 250 companies and other smaller

firms. Respondents held executive titles such as Vice President, Executive Director or

Director. Guiniven found that the executives who responded to his survey rated thinking








28
skills significantly higher than technical skills. In addition, he found that public relations

executives believed that public relations is increasingly becoming a management function

rather than a technical function.

Finally, McInerny's (1995) study of public relations students' choice of minors

found that business was the most popular minor pursued. He surveyed 570 public

relations students from colleges and universities that had Public Relations Student

Society of America (PRSSA) chapters. He argued that by having a minor, students

position themselves uniquely, which "complements a critical advance underway in the

profession, that of public relations professionals serving as counsel to top management"

(p. 34).


Teaching ethics

Including ethics in the public relations curriculum was another commonly-

mentioned recommendation given by several authors reviewed for this study (Gibson

1992-1993, J. Grunig 1989, Guiniven 1998, Harrison 1990, Heath 1991, Lordan 1996,

McInerny 1997, Pincus & Rayfield 1992, Pratt & Rentner 1989, Smethers 1998, Turk

1989, Wakefield & Cottone, 1992). James Grunig (1989) argued that the public relations

curriculum should offer an advanced course in ethics, as well as emphasize the ethics of a

two-way symmetrical model of public relations practice. Guiniven's (1998) study found

that eight subjects of study were recommended by practitioners for inclusion in the public

relations curriculum, and ethics was among those eight. (The eight subjects included

business, ethics, history, journalism, psychology, sociology and law.) Pratt & Rentner

(1989) contended that "high ethical standards in the practice are seen as substantially

contributing to the professionalization of the occupation" (p. 53).








29
McInerny (1997) argued for the integration of ethics throughout the public

relations curriculum, and he contended that ethics are not discussed in every public

relations class, nor do public relations textbooks adequately cover the subject. He argued

that "ethics must become an element across the curriculum within the academic realm of

public relations" (p. 47). Harrison (1990) surveyed department heads and instructors from

134 colleges listed in the PRSA's publication, Where to Study Public Relations. He also

analyzed the content of textbooks that are used in ethics courses. He found that a majority

of educators agreed that ethics is important for public relations students. However, he

also found that textbooks do not include much information on ethics. He argued that not

only should a separate ethics course be required, but that ethics are needed in every

public relations course.

Of particular interest to the future of public relations is the instruction of ethics

and legal issues for new media and the Internet. Smethers (1998) surveyed 253 directors

and department chairs of the programs listed in the 1995-1996 membership directory of

the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. He found that

most mass communication programs do not offer a separate course in ethics, but rather

include the discussion of new media ethics in existing ethics or skills courses. Smethers

argued that new media pose new ethical challenges. For example, copyright law was not

designed to cover the complex media format of the Internet. In addition, disseminating

credible message by way of the Internet may be difficult, he contended, because its image

is "anything but wholesome" (p. 17). Other problems associated with the Internet include

information sabotage, credit card fraud and other crimes, and privacy concerns. Smethers

argued that the development of new media requires that students develop more








30
sophisticated ethical decision-making skills and that instruction in ethics should be more

prevalent in public relations education.


Teaching theory

Another popular recommendation was that theory should be taught in

undergraduate public relations, and it should be used as a basis for all courses (Gibson

1992-1993, Guiniven 1998, Hazleton & Long 1988, Heath 1991). Sparks & Conwell

(1998) studied colleges that had a chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of

America and found that both PRSSA programs and non-PRSSA programs tend to focus

on teaching practical skills. PRSSA schools were found to teach a 50/50 split of theory

and practical skills, while non-PRSSA schools taught a 30/70 split of theory and practical

skills. The authors recommended the 50/50 split "to encourage future practitioners to

provide sound counsel based on a knowledge of theory and hands-on application" (p. 44).

Jackson, one of the past PRSA presidents interviewed for VanLeuven's (1989a)

article argued that a balance of theoretical and practical orientations is needed in teaching

public relations. Jackson contended that public relations students fail to receive enough

instruction about theory because there is "too much attention to vocational training for the

firstjob" (p. 7).

James Grunig (1989) recommended that undergraduate public relations education

needs to introduce students to theory so that theory building can be done to contribute to

the body of knowledge. Gaudino & Steele (1988) contended that a "theoretical or

technical base and an educational system for its dissemination are necessary conditions

for recognition as a profession" (p. 4).








31
McInerny (1997) argued that a philosophical basis for public relations is needed,

and that "more in-depth study of the theoretical underpinnings of the practice should be

expected" (p. 46). He also argued that the teaching of theory will help students

understand ethics in public relations. Similarly, Pratt & Rentner (1989) argued that public

relations practitioners need to be familiar with the tools of the philosopher, and that a

theoretical underpinning for ethics needs to be developed. Kopenhaver et al. (1989) also

discussed the need for the theoretical underpinning of public relations concepts. They

argued that the results of their survey of public relations educators indicated that public

relations theories (as opposed to journalism theories) were not being treated fairly and

adequately in the courses offered at the respondents' colleges.


Teaching research

Research was another subject that was often mentioned as a recommendation for

improving public relations education (Gaudino & Steele 1988, Gibson 1992-1993, J.

Grunig 1989, Larson 1989, Pincus & Rayfield 1992). Heath (1991) argued that

respectability will come to the public relations field if useful and accurate research is

done, and in order to make progress toward professional status, public relations

curriculum needs to include a core research course. "Research and increased standards of

performance have been the route to distinction and respectability, whether the discipline

was medicine, engineering, psychology, or business administration" (p. 187).

Brownell & Niebauer (1988) argued that further research is needed to determine

the success or failure of public relations efforts, and that research will determine the

value of public relations. They argued that increased accountability, based on the

contributions public relations can make to organizational activities, will "lead to more








32
professionalism" (p. 4). Gaudino & Vanden Bergh (1988) perceived that practitioners

were recognizing changes in the occupation toward an increased emphasis on research

and accountability, and that practitioners were demanding courses in research.

Sallot et al. (1998) surveyed 127 educators to determine if professional standards

exist in public relations. They found that there was little consensus about professional

standards among educators, and that educators believed that they held higher professional

standards than practitioners. The authors contended that because educators have great

influence on the field of public relations, it is important that they "work to elevate the

profession by promulgating professional standards among their students and the

practitioners in the field with whom they have contact" (p. 28). To do this, the authors

suggested that educators offer courses in public relations research and issues

management. Sallot et al. also noted that practitioners appear to be ahead of educators in

the increased use of research. Therefore, they argued, the teaching of research should be

increased to meet the increased use of research in practice.

DeSanto (1996) studied undergraduate public relations curricula by surveying 126

public relations sequence administrators and 261 public relations teachers from the 179

colleges and universities with PRSSA chapters. She found that half of the public relations

programs studied required students to take some type of research course, but only 37

percent offered a separate course in public relations research. She also found that the

majority of other public relations courses offered were not based on research. DeSanto

argued that research is important in earning public relations a place in management and

for advancing it as a profession. She recommended that a separate public relations

research course should be offered, and that educators "should develop the research








33
element in all public relations courses if they are to meet the expectations of the

profession" (p. 31).


Teaching writing

Writing was commonly viewed as one of the most important topics to be taught to

public relations students. Because most authors viewed writing as already being taught

sufficiently, it was not discussed in detail as an area that needs improvement in education.

However, a few authors wrote specifically about the need for writing education and skills

for public relations students. Harrison (1989) argued that writing is a major criterion for

the future success of public relations students, and that "a really first rate.. public

relations person must know and master a wide range of writing skills" (p. 42). Therefore,

he recommended that public relations students receive specialized writing courses in the

communication field, and he especially recommended that students acquire hard news

writing skills. Harrison contended that writing ability is essential for every student who

wants to "advance beyond basic practitioner to management" (p. 43).

Guiniven (1998) found that good writing skills were rated highly by public

relations practitioners. He argued that "writing should be, or continue to be, emphasized

across the curriculum" (p. 55). In addition, Baxter (1993, p. 5) wrote that "writing is still

the key to effective practice," and that strong education in writing is needed. He

recommended that students receive as many courses as possible in English, news writing,

creative writing, persuasive writing, copywriting and speech writing. He also

recommended that internships provide students with practice writing.









Teaching new technology

The inclusion of technological instruction in the public relations curriculum is a

popular topic today and will be of increasing importance to future public relations

practitioners. Several authors recommended that public relations students be taught about

computers, new technology and new media. Sparks & Conwell (1998) recommended the

integration of current technology into the traditional teaching methods. Griffin &

Pasadeos (1998) contended that more computer skills courses are needed. Fleming (1988)

argued that students will not be prepared for practice unless they are taught computer

skills. He said, "If education is to prepare young practitioners for public relations

practice, it must include the skills required by the profession. Because computers are

important elements of the practice of public relations, education must address this role"

(p. 71). In addition, Smethers (1998) recommended that students learn to use interactive

media, which is "an important component in training tomorrow's media professionals"

(p. 15).

Baxter (1993) argued that students must be able to effectively use current

technologies, and that practitioners should help education to provide students with access

to computers and other technologies. Gustafson & Thomsen (1996) recommended that

educators familiarize public relations students with computer and online resources. The

authors argued that educators have an obligation to students and employers to develop

these essential skills, and that the use of computers and the Internet helps students

improve skills in writing, speaking, critical thinking, computers and telecommunications.









Providing internship opportunities

Providing public relations students with internship opportunities is the final

recommendation for improving public relations education that was made by the authors

of the literature reviewed for this study. Redeker (1992) wrote that employers look for

students who have had internships, and the hands-on experience that a student receives

from an internship is the single most important benefit. She argued that internships allow

students to experience the wide range of opportunities available in the profession; they

bring student and professionals together to create networks, and they help students

negotiate for their first job and salary.

VanLeuven (1989a) argued that in order for university public relations programs

to gain credibility, there should be internship opportunities for students and professional

exchanges for educators. Schwartz et al. (1992) suggested that the curriculum ought to

include a career orientation for students by providing internship opportunities. Finally,

Baxter (1993) contended that students should have internships and that the internships

should allow students to observe public relations practitioners in the roles of manager,

strategist, planner, problem-solver and counselor to management.


Other recommendations

Other recommendations were less-commonly made for improving public relations

education. They include requiring students to have a minor or specialization,

implementing licensing or accreditation, having a balance of genders in the classroom

and the workforce, having a separate public relations department within the college that

houses it, and teaching public relations from an Integrated Marketing Communications

(IMC) perspective.








36
Two scholars (Health 1991, McInemy 1995) recommended that public relations

students should have a minor or specialization to enhance their education. Heath (1991)

wrote that these auxiliary disciplines, which include such topics as advertising,

marketing, communication studies, humanities, social science, business, technology,

science, engineering and law, are necessary because such skills are essential in public

relations practice. Mclnemy (1995) argued that the minor is an important part of the

curriculum and it allows students some choice and variety in their studies. He wrote that

the minor, no matter which minor a student chooses, complements the major and is "a

natural complement for entry into a specialized niche of the profession" (p. 34).

Brownell & Niebauer (1988) recommended licensing or accreditation as a

contributor to professionalism in public relations. They suggested that practitioners

should be required to pass general examinations, with additional examinations for more

specialized areas. They also suggested requiring recertification periodically.

Hunt & Thompson contended that public relations has the image of being a

"women's field," (p. 49) and that educators and employers need to strive for a "balance

of the sexes" (p. 50). They argued that the field of public relations has a disproportionate

number of female practitioners, and unfortunately, females are often overlooked for

management positions. Therefore, public relations will have a difficult time gaining

professional status because it is not seen as a management function. Hunt & Thompson

recommended that there should be more equal numbers of men and women in the

occupation, and those men and women should be taught management skills.

James Grunig (1989) argued that the public relations department should be

autonomous or relatively autonomous from journalism, speech, business and other








37
disciplines. He contended that public relations practitioners who have educations in

journalism or other fields tend to practice less sophisticated models of public relations,

which do not help the occupation advance toward a professional status. He wrote that

"programs that train students essentially in news-editorial journalism with only a few

supplemental courses in public relations tend to limit their graduates to the technician

role and limit the potential for excellence of the public relations departments in which

they eventually work" (p. 18).

Finally, the literature reviewed for this study included two studies that were done

regarding the impact of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) on public relations

education. IMC is the integration of all communication functions-public relations,

advertising, marketing, etc.-into one function. IMC allows practitioners to utilize the

strengths of each discipline when planning communications. In the first study, Rose &

Miller (1993) surveyed 308 advertising and public relations professionals in South

Florida, and found that although public relations practitioners objected to integrating

public relations with advertising for IMC, many corporations and agencies perceive the

need for IMC. Therefore, the authors argued, colleges and universities should respond to

this need for IMC by including it in the curriculum. Rose & Miller contended that "a

broader education that cuts across both advertising and public relations fields appears to

be desired" (p. 26).

Griffin & Pasadeos (1998) surveyed 222 advertising and public relations

educators about their attitudes toward IMC and the impact IMC would have on the

curriculum at their schools. These authors found that public relations educators are

opposed to IMC because they feel that public relations is not a marketing function and it








38
cannot be represented completely in IMC. Griffin & Pasadeos did not recommend

integrating public relations into IMC because they found that public relations educators

felt that their sequences covered the necessary subject matter that students should know.


Conclusion

This literature review has uncovered various views of scholars, educators and

practitioners regarding professionalism and education in public relations. Many scholars,

educators and practitioners have agreed that public relations is not yet a profession,

although it is on its way to becoming one. They also agreed that public relations

education is a key element in public relations' progress toward professionalization, and

that consensus is needed regarding the public relations curricula before progress can be

made in improving it.

The authors reviewed offered a variety of suggestions and recommendations for

improving public relations education. The most commonly-mentioned recommendations

included providing students with a broad liberal arts background, centering public

relations education in a communication core, and teaching students management,

research, ethics and theory. The second most popular recommendations included teaching

students writing and new technologies, and providing students with internship

opportunities. Other suggestions that were made included requiring licensing or

accreditation, maintaining a balance of the genders in education and practice, requiring

students to have minors or specializations, having a separate public relations department

within the college that houses it, and teaching public relations from an IMC perspective.

The wide variety of recommendations made by the authors reveals a lack of consensus

among scholars, educators and practitioners as to what should be included in the public









relations curriculum. Until a consensus can be reached as to what courses are the most

vital, public relations education will be less effective in helping the occupation reach

professional status.


Research Questions

Based on the literature review, there are 11 areas that public relations scholars

believe are important components of a good public relations curriculum. The areas most

recommended for the public relations curriculum are:

1. Liberal arts background (Baxter 1993, E. Caudill et al. 1990, Falb 1992, Gibson
1992-1993, Guiniven 1998, Heath, 1991, Kruckeberg 1998, McInemy 1995, Nelson
et al. 1992, Pincus & Rayfield 1992, Schwartz et al. 1992, VanLeuven 1989a, Wylie
1990).
2. Core communication courses (Hazleton & Long 1988, Kruckeberg 1998, Kopenhaver
Martinson & Soruco 1989, Wylie 1990).
3. Management skills (Baxter 1993, Berkowitz & Hristodoulakis 1999, E. Caudill et al.
1990, Falb 1992, Gaudino & Vanden Bergh 1988, Gibson 1992-1993, Griffin &
Pasadeos 1998, J. Grunig 1989, Guiniven 1998, Heath 1991, Hunt & Thompson
1988, Kinnick & Cameron 1994, Lordan 1996, McInerny 1995, Nelson et al. 1992,
Petrook 1995, Pincus & Rayfield 1992, Sallot et al. 1998, Schwartz et al. 1992,
Sparks & Conwell 1998, VanLeuven 1989a, Turk 1989, Wakefield & Cottone 1992).
4. Ethics (Gibson 1992-1993, J. Grunig 1989, Guiniven 1998, Harrison 1990, Heath
1991, Lordan 1996, McInerny 1997, Pincus & Rayfield 1992, Pratt & Rentner 1989,
Smethers 1998, Turk 1989, Wakefield & Cottone 1992).
5. Theory (Gaudino & Steele 1988, Gibson 1992-1993, J. Grunig 1989, Guiniven 1998,
Hazleton & Long 1988, Heath 1991, Kopenhaver et al. 1989, McInemy 1997, Pratt &
Rentner 1989, Sparks & Conwell 1998, VanLeuven 1989a).
6. Research skills (Brownell & Niebauer 1988, DeSanto 1996, Gaudino & Steele 1988,
Gaudino & Vanden Bergh 1988, Gibson 1992-1993, J. Grunig 1989, Heath 1991,
Larson 1989, Pincus & Rayfield 1992, Sallot et al. 1998).
7. Writing (Baxter 1993, Guiniven 1998, Harrison 1989).
8. New Technology (Baxter 1993, Fleming 1988, Griffin & Pasadeos 1998, Gustafson
& Thomsen 1996, Smethers 1998, Sparks & Conwell 1998).
9. Internships (Baxter 1993, Griffin & Pasadeos 1998, Redeker 1992, Schwartz et al.
1992, VanLeuven 1989a).
10. Teaching public relations from an IMC perspective (Rose & Miller 1993).
11. Having a separate public relations department within the college (J. Grunig 1989).









In addition, the literature review revealed nine criteria of a good public relations

professional. These criteria are as follows:

1. Maintaining a code of ethics and professional norms (Bivins 1993, Cameron et al.
1996, Ryan & Martinson 1990, St. Helen 1992, Sallot et al. 1998, Saunders & Perrigo
1998).
2. Commitment to serve in the public interest and be socially responsible (Bivins 1993,
Cameron et al. 1996, Ryan & Martinson 1990, Sallot et al. 1998, Saunders & Perrigo
1998).
3. Having a body of esoteric scholarly knowledge (Cameron et al. 1996, Ryan &
Martinson 1990, Sallot et al. 1998, Saunders & Perrigo 1998, Wylie 1994)
4. Having technical and research skills. (Cameron et al. 1996, Ryan & Martinson 1990,
St. Helen 1992, Sallot et al. 1998, Saunders & Perrigo 1998).
5. Providing a unique service to the organization and the community (Cameron et al.
1996, Sallot et al. 1998, Saunders & Perrigo 1998).
6. Having membership in professional organizations (Cameron et al. 1996, Ryan &
Martinson 1990, Sallot et al. 1998).
7. Having autonomy and responsibility to make decisions (Cameron et al. 1996, Ryan &
Martinson 1990, Sallot et al. 1998, Saunders & Perrigo 1998).
8. Having specialized/certified/continuing education including graduate study
(Hainsworth 1993, Paluszek 1988, Saunders & Perrigo 1998, Wylie 1994).
9. Having examination by the state and certification of practitioners (Wylie 1994).


From these components and criteria, the following research questions are

proposed:

RQ1: What is the current sentiment among public relations educators about the
components of a good public relations curriculum?
RQ2: What is the current sentiment among public relations educators on the
characteristics of a good public relations professional?
RQ3: What is the current sentiment among public relations professionals about the
components of a good public relations curriculum?
RQ4: What is the current sentiment among public relations professionals on the
characteristics of a good public relations professional?
RQ5: Do public relations educators feel that there are other characteristics of a good
public relations curriculum?
RQ6: Do public relations educators feel that there are other characteristics of a good
public relations professional?
RQ7: Do public relations professionals feel that there are other characteristics of a good
public relations curriculum?
RQ8: Do public relations professionals feel that there are other characteristics of a good
public relations professional?














CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY

Research Design

The purpose of this study was to determine how undergraduate college education

contributes to pubic relations' status as a profession. This study explored whether

undergraduate college and university public relations programs are preparing students by

teaching the optimum curriculum, as suggested by the 11 components of a good public

relations education. This study also explored whether the graduates of public relations

programs have the knowledge and ability to meet the criteria of the profession. To answer

the research questions, as were proposed at the end of chapter two, a quantitative survey

method was employed. A self-administered questionnaire was used to gather data.

According to Babbie (1998), "Survey research is probably the best method

available to the social scientist interested in collecting original data for describing a

population too large to observe directly" (p. 256). Because the goal of this study was to

gain a general understanding of the state of public relations education and the public

relations profession, a sample from the large population of those in public relations was

needed. Babbie (1998) said that survey research is "particularly useful in describing the

characteristics of a large population," (p. 272) and it makes a large sample feasible in

terms of time and money needed to complete the research.

Babbie (1998) described other advantages of using survey research. Surveys are

flexible, allowing many questions to be asked. Also, the survey instrument is consistent

because it asks the same questions of all subjects, which allows the researcher to collect a
41








42
large amount of standardized data. The standardized format of the questionnaire increases

reliability. Finally, the self-administered questionnaire allows respondents to respond

more freely, and it is also faster and less expensive to administer, making it especially

appropriate for a national survey.

Survey research does have some weaknesses. This method does not allow for a

high level of detail, and respondents have a controlled choice of responses for some of

the questions. Babbie (1998) said that survey research cannot deal with the context, or

details, of the situation under study. In addition, surveys are somewhat inflexible because

they do not allow for the initial study design to be changed throughout the study (Babbie,

1998).

To ensure reliability in a study, Babbie (1998) recommended using methods that

have been proven reliable in previous research. To improve reliability in this study, the

survey instrument questions were based on a those used in other studies done by public

relations scholars. The researcher contacted scholars who had done research related to

this study and requested copies of their survey instruments. Table 3-1 lists the names of

the scholars who supplied their survey instruments, the studies the instruments were used

in, and any co-authors.


Sample

Based on the response rates of similar studies done for master's theses at the

University of Florida, an approximate response rate of 25% was expected. A quantitative

study using a web-administrated questionnaire done by Wheaton (1998) for her master's

thesis received a 26% response rate, and a quantitative study done by Pattilo (1999) for

his master's thesis received a 20% response rate. Because the researcher wanted to gather








43
data from at least 150 people, samples of 200 educators, 200 practitioners, and 200

people from corporate public relations were chosen.


Table 3-1. Survey instruments used to help create this study's questionnaire

Scholar Study Co-Author(s)
Dan Berkowitz Practitioner Roles, Public Relations Ilias
Education, and Professional Hristodoulakis
Socialization: An Exploratory Study
Barbara J. DeSanto The State of Research Education in the
Public Relations Curriculum
Lynne M. Sallot Professional Standards in Public Relations: Glen T. Cameron,
A Survey of Educators and Developing Ruth Ann Weaver
Standards of Professional Performance Lariscy
in Public Relations
Donald F. Schwartz Does Public Relations Education Make the J. Paul Yarbrough,
Grade? M. Therese Shakra
Steven Smethers Cyberspace in the Curricula: New Legal and
Ethical Issues
Don Stacks Survey used at a National Communication
Association (NCA) conference about the
future of public relations education.
H. Allen White Literature of Public Relations: Curriculum Carol E. Oukrop,
for a Unique Career Richard A. Nelson


The sample of public relations educators was drawn from the membership

directory of the PRSA Educators Academy (1999-2000) and the membership directory of

the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) (1999-

2000). Because the researcher wanted to contact subjects via electronic mail, only those

people who had e-mail addresses were chosen for the sample. The PRSA Educators

Academy membership directory listed 133 educators with e-mail addresses, so all 133

were chosen. The remaining 67 subjects were chosen from the membership directory of

the AEJMC. Because the AEJMC membership directory was not divided into sections by

academic area, the researcher had to scan the members' descriptions in order to choose








44
people who were designated as public relations educators and who also had e-mail

addresses. To simplify the sampling process, because the AEJMC directory listed a large

number of people, the researcher chose the first two members from each alphabetical

section who were designated as public relations educators and who had e-mail addresses.

That is, two subjects were chosen from section A, two from section B, and so on. Thus,

200 people were chosen for the educators sample.

The sample of public relations practitioners was drawn from The RedBook: A

Directory of the PRSA Counselors Academy (1999). A systematic sampling design was

used. (Babbie, 1998). Again, because the researcher wanted to contact subjects via

electronic mail, only those people who had e-mail addresses were chosen for the sample.

The directory listed approximately 600 people with e-mail addresses, so every third name

was chosen in order to obtain 200 subjects for the public relations practitioners sample.

The sample of people from corporate public relations was drawn from the

membership directory of the Arthur W. Page Society (1999). The directory listed 237

people with e-mail addresses, so the first 200 were chosen.

Once the three lists of subjects were complied, each subject was assigned a unique

identification number, from 1 to 600. The subjects' names and e-mail addresses were

entered into the database program Microsoft Access. A mail merge was used to insert

each respondent's name, e-mail address and unique identification number in the

appropriate places on e-mail letters.








45
The Survey Instrument

An e-mail letter was sent in mid-May 2000 to each of the 600 subjects in the

sample (Appendix A). The e-mail letter described the research and asked the subject to

go to a web site, http://www.foosion.net/survey/index.htm to complete the questionnaire.

The survey questionnaire was designed as an electronic-response form (Appendix

D). The respondent was asked to read a consent form before completing the

questionnaire. Each respondent was asked to enter his or her unique identification

number in a text box so that the researcher could determine to whom follow-up e-mail

letters should be sent. To respond to each question, the respondent clicked a radio button

to make a selection, chose a selection from a drop-down list, or typed his or her response

into a text box. Once the respondent completed the survey, he or she clicked the

"Submit" button to submit his or her responses. The survey responses were sent to the

researcher via e-mail and also saved as a text file on the host computer.

The questionnaire had four sections. In the first section, respondents were asked

how they felt about public relations education with regard to the recommendations made

by the Commission for Public Relations Education. In the second section, respondents

were asked about their views on what should be taught in a good undergraduate public

relations program, what they thought was essential training for public relations careers,

and what skills current college graduates of public relations programs have. In the third

section, the nine criteria of the public relations profession were listed, with a brief

description of each. Respondents were asked to rank order the nine criteria and add any

others they felt were important. The fourth section asked for demographic information.








46
Of the 600 e-mails sent in the initial mailing, 157 were undeliverable and were

returned to the researcher. Of these, 50 were from the educators sample, 62 were from the

practitioners sample, and 45 were from the corporate practitioners sample.

In mid-July, two months after the initial e-mail was sent, the researcher removed

from the mailing list the names of those who had responded. The undeliverable e-mail

addresses were also removed from the mailing list. A follow-up e-mail was then sent to

non-respondents (Appendix B). A month after that, the researcher removed the names of

those who had responded to the follow-up e-mail from the mailing list. A second follow-

up e-mail was sent the remaining non-respondents in late August 2000 (Appendix C).

After these attempts, a total of 155 responses were received. The initial e-mail

resulted in 101 responses-42 responses from educators, 24 responses from practitioners,

28 responses from those in corporate public relations, and seven anonymous responses.

The first follow-up e-mail resulted in 26 additional responses-13 responses from

educators, seven responses from practitioners, and six responses from those in corporate

public relations. The second follow-up e-mail resulted in 28 additional responses-10

responses from educators, six responses from practitioners, eight responses from those in

corporate public relations, and four anonymous responses. Overall, 32.5% of educators

responded, 18.5% of practitioners responded and 21% of corporate public relations

practitioners responded.


Data Analysis

When each respondent submitted his or her questionnaire responses, a text file

was created on the web site's host computer. The researcher downloaded the 155

responses from the host computer to her own computer. A friend of the researcher wrote








47
a computer program to put all the data in a format that could be imported into the

computer data analysis program Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The

data were imported into SPSS and analyzed. The program was used to compute

percentages, cross tabulations and frequencies.
















CHAPTER 4
FINDINGS

Demographics

Of the 155 people who responded to the questionnaire, 38% were female, 57%

were male and 5% did not answer the question (Figure 4-1). Most of the respondents

were between the ages of 45 and 54 (45% of the respondents), and the next largest group

was aged 55 to 64 (25%). The remaining respondents were either over age 65 (11%), age

44 or younger (14%), or gave no answer (5%) (Figure 4-2).





No Answer
5%

Female
38%


Male
57%





Figure 4-1. Gender of respondents


Thirty-one percent of respondents had earned a Ph.D., 30% had earned a master's

degree, and another 30% had earned a bachelor's degree. One person had no college

education, one had earned an A.A. degree, two had earned a J.D., and 9 people did not

answer the question (Figure 4-3).




























Figure 4-2. Ages of respondents


Master's Degree
30% A


No Answer
6%


30%


Figure 4-3. Respondents' highest degree earned


Each respondent was asked to fill in a text box describing his or her

undergraduate major and graduate field, if applicable. The responses given were grouped

into categories by the researcher. Most respondents, 41, majored in journalism as college

undergraduates. English was also a popular major. Twenty-three respondents majored in

English as undergraduates (Figure 4-4). Communications was the most-commonly

pursued graduate field, and was the field of study of 36 respondents. Other popular

graduate fields included public relations (18 respondents) and journalism (15








50
respondents) (Figure 4-5). There were also many other undergraduate majors and

graduate fields listed by respondents, indicating that the respondents came from a variety

of educational backgrounds.



S 45 41
40
' 35
o 30 -
S23
25 -2
S 20
o 15 -
9 9 87
.. 160 4
E 5-
z 0




s c,0 ,



Major


Figure 4-4. Respondents' undergraduate major


Most respondents, 90%, were Caucasian. One respondent was Asian, one black,

three Hispanic, three "other," and seven gave no answer (Figure 4-6). Twenty-seven

percent of respondents were located in the northeast region of the United States, 26% in

the southeast, 23% in the Midwest, 12% in the southwest, 5% in the northwest. Seven

percent did not answer the question (Figure 4-7).

Fifty-one percent of respondents indicated that they were not APR certified, 44%

were APR certified, and 5% did not answer the question (Figure 4-8). Twenty-five

percent of respondents worked in corporate public relations, 23% worked in agency








51
public relations, 8% worked in non-profit public relations, and 7% worked in government

public relations. Nineteen percent of respondents indicated that they worked in a public

relations field other than corporate, agency, non-profit or government, and 18% of

respondents did not answer the question (Figure 4-9).



50 47
S45
40 -36
C 35
o
C- 30
25
,,- 18
0 20
15 15 1
E 10 -
z 5

0 -
0








Graduate Field



Figure 4-5. Respondent's graduate field


Respondents were asked how long they had been teaching and/or practicing

public relations. Respondents were asked to type in the number of years practiced and/or

worked, so the researcher grouped the responses in groups of five years. Most

respondents had taught public relations for one to five years (20 respondents), followed

closely by those who had taught six to 10 years (18 respondents), and those who had

taught for 11 to 15 years (17 respondents). Most respondents had worked in public

relations for 21 to 25 years (32 respondents), followed by those who had worked 26 to 30









52
years (24 respondents), those who had worked 31 to 35 years (21 respondents), and those

who had worked 16 to 20 years (20 respondents) (Tables 4-1 and 4-2).


Figure 4-6. Race of respondents


Figure 4-7. Respondent's region


Caucasian

90%




Black Hispanic

1% 2%

Asian No Answer

1% 5%
Other

2%


Southwest

13%


Midwest

23%


Northwest

5%

No Answer

6%





























Figure 4-8. Whether or not respondent was APR certified


Figure 4-9. Respondents' public relations field of work



Findings

Because the purpose of this study was to determine the differences and

similarities of opinions between public relations educators and practitioners, there was a

question on the questionnaire that asked the respondent whether he or she considered him

or herself a public relations educator, a public relations practitioner, or both educator and

practitioner. Of the 155 people who responded to the questionnaire, 36 respondents


APR Certified
44%


No Answer
5%




Not APR Cert
52%


Other PR Field
19%









54
considered themselves to be public relations educators, 60 respondents considered

themselves to be public relations practitioners, and 51 respondents considered themselves

to be both educators and practitioners. Eight respondents did not answer the question

(Figure 4-10). The data will be analyzed according to these categories, "educator,"

"practitioner," or "both."


Table 4-1. Number of years
respondents had taught
public relations

Number of Years Number of
Respondent Had Respondents
Taught Public Relations

0 6
1-5 20
6-10 18
11-15 17
16-20 11
21-25 9
26-30 6
31-35 2
No Answer 66


Table 4-2. Number of years
respondents had worked in
public relations

Number of Years Number of
Respondent Had Respondents
Worked in Public
Relations
0 3
1-5 4
6-10 14
11-15 10
16-20 20
21-25 32
26-30 24
31-35 21
36-40 10
50-55 4
No Answer 13


Figure 4-10. Whether respondent was a PR educator, practitioner or both
educator/practitioner


No Answer
5%
Educator
23%






Practitioner
39%


Both
33%








55
Importance of Knowledge Competence Components in Undergraduate
Education

The first part of the questionnaire asked respondents about their opinions on the

recommendations made by Commission on Public Relations Education (CPRE) in

October 1999. In Part la, respondents were asked their opinions on the importance of the

12 knowledge components that the CPRE recommended that graduates of undergraduate

public relations programs should possess. The 12 knowledge components were

communication and persuasion concepts and strategies, communication and public

relations theories, relationships and relationship building, societal trends, ethical issues,

legal requirements and issues, marketing and finance, public relations history, use of

research and forecasting, multicultural and global issues, organizational change and

development, and management concepts and theories.

Seven of the knowledge components were ranked as "important" or "very

important" by 80% or more of practitioners. Ten of the knowledge components were

ranked "important" or "very important" by 80% or more of educators. Eleven of the

knowledge components were ranked as "important" or "very important" by 80% or more

of those who considered themselves both educators and practitioners. One knowledge

component, "communication and persuasion concepts and strategies," was ranked

"important" or "very important" by more than 90% of educators, practitioners, and both

educators/practitioners, indicating that all respondents believe that this knowledge is

important for public relations students. On the other hand, another knowledge

component, "public relations history," had less importance across the three groups,

indicating that respondents feel that this knowledge area is not as important as the others.








56
With the exception of the knowledge component "public relations history," none

of the other components was rated as "not important" or "not very important" by more

than 6% of any of the three groups. "Public relations history" was rated as "not

important" or "not very important" by 25% of practitioners, 8% of educators, and 8% of

both educators/practitioners. Overall, the knowledge component "communication and

persuasion concepts and theories" received the most support across the three groups, and

the knowledge component "public relations history" received the least support. The other

10 components were generally considered important by all three groups (Table 4-3).


Importance of Skill Competence Components in Undergraduate Education

In Part lb of the questionnaire, respondents were asked their opinions on the

importance of the 20 skill components that the CPRE recommended that graduates of

undergraduate public relations programs should possess. The 20 skill components were:

research methods and analysis; management of information; mastery of language in

written and oral communication; problem solving and negotiation; management of

communication; strategic planning; issues management; audience segmentation;

informative and persuasive writing; community relations, consumer relations, employee

relations, other practice areas; technological and visual literacy; managing people,

programs and resources; sensitive interpersonal communication; and fluency in a foreign

language.

More than 80% of educators ranked 19 of the 20 skills as "important" or "very

important." Only one skill, "fluency in a foreign language," was not considered by

educators to be as important as the others. It was ranked "important" or "very important"

by 47% of educators. More than 80% of practitioners ranked 13 of the 20 skills as








57
"important" or "very important." More than 80% of both educators/practitioners ranked

16 of the 20 skills as "important" or "very important." When combined, 80% or more of

practitioners, educators and both educators/practitioners ranked 13 of the 20 skills as

"important" or "very important," indicating that there is agreement among the groups

about the importance of these skills. Two skills, "mastery of language in written and oral

communication" and "informative and persuasive writing," were ranked as "important" or

"very important" by 92% or more of educators, practitioners and both

educators/practitioners, indicating that these two skills are the two most important skills

according to all three groups.


Table 4-3. The importance of the CPRE's recommended knowledge components of
undergraduate public relations by percentage of public relations educators,
practitioners and both educators/practitioners

"Important" or "Very "Neutral" Importance "Not Very Important"
Important" or "Not Important"
Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both
Communication and 94% 90% 92% 3% 7% 6% -- -- --
persuasion concepts
and strategies
Communication and 97 83 92 -- 10 4 -- 3 2
public relations
theories
Relationships and 94 90 86 3 3 12 -- 3 --
relationship building
Societal Trends 89 82 88 6 10 8 3 5 --
Ethical issues 89 88 94 3 3 4 3 3 --
Legal requirements 86 77 80 11 17 14 -- 3 4
and issues
Marketing and finance 75 88 90 17 5 6 6 2 2
Public relations 75 30 51 14 40 40 8 25 8
history
Use of research and 97 85 88 -- 10 6 -- -- 2
forecasting
Multicultural and 94 67 80 3 27 10 -- 2 6
global issues
Organizational change 86 60 88 6 31 8 6 3 2
and development
Management concepts 89 75 86 6 17 8 3 2 4
and theories
Note: The percentage of respondents in each group may not add up to 100% due to missing responses.








58
Among educators, only one skill, "fluency in a foreign language," was not

considered as important as the other skills. Forty-four percent of educators felt "neutral"

about the importance of this skill, although only 6% felt is was "not important" or "not

very important." Among practitioners, "fluency in a foreign language" was ranked

"important" or "very important" by only 17% of the group. A higher percentage of

practitioners, 60%, felt "neutral" about the importance of this skill, and 20% felt that the

skill was "not important" or "not very important." Both educators/practitioners varied

widely on the "fluency in a foreign language" skill, with 33% ranking the skill

"important" or "very important," 41% ranking it "neutral," and 24% ranking it "not

important" or "not very important."

Other than the skill "fluency in a foreign language," the skill "participation in the

professional public relations community" received somewhat less support than the other

skills. Although this skill was considered "important" or "very important" by 83% of

educators, only 52% of practitioners and 77% of both educators/practitioners felt that this

skill was "important" or "very important." All other skills were generally considered

"important" or "very important" by a majority of each of the three groups (Table 4-4).


Importance of Course Components in Undergraduate Education

In Part Ic of the questionnaire, respondents were asked to indicate the importance

of the CPRE's recommended eight course components for undergraduate public relations

education. The eight components were: introduction to public relations; case studies in

public relations; public relations research, measurement and evaluation; public relations

writing and production; public relations planning and management; public relations








59
campaigns; supervised work experience in public relations (internship); and directed

electives.

All course components except "directed electives" were ranked "important" or

"very important" by 80% or more of educators and of both educators/practitioners. Five

of the eight course components were ranked "important" or "very important" by more

than 80% of practitioners. Overall, the course component "directed electives" was seen as

the least important component by all three groups, and the course component "public

relations writing and production" was seen as the most important component by all three

groups. Results were mixed for the other course components, although most course

components were seen to be important in undergraduate education. A very small

percentage of respondents ranked any of the course components as "not important" or

"not very important." The highest percentage of the "not important" or "not very

important" ranking was only 6%, and was found on the lowest-ranking component,

"directed electives" (Table 4-5).

When asked if the eight course components recommended by the CPRE were

sufficient for undergraduate public relations education, 67% of educators said yes, and

28% said no. Fifty-two percent of practitioners said that the components were sufficient,

and 42% said they were not. Of the educators/practitioners, 57% said the components

were sufficient, whereas 37% said they were not (Figure 4-11).


Additional Course Components Recommended by Respondents

Respondents were asked to list course components that they would add to the list

of courses recommended by the CPRE. Seventy-nine respondents gave their

recommendations for courses that should be included in the public relations curriculum.










Table 4-4. The importance of the CPRE's recommended skill components of
undergraduate public relations by percentage of public relations educators,
practitioners and both educators/practitioners

"Important" or "Very "Neutral" Importance "Not Very Important"
Important" or "Not Important"
Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both
Research methods and 97% 82% 92% -- 10% 4% -- 3% 2%
analysis
Management of information 92 85 86 -- 8 12 3 2 --
Mastery of language in written 97 95 98 -- -- -- -- -- --
and oral communication
Problem solving and 97 90 88 -- 3 8 -- 2 2
negotiation
Management of 89 82 90 6 10 6 3 3 2
communication
Strategic planning 97 82 94 -- 7 4 -- 3 --
Issues Management 92 83 86 3 7 10 3 3 2
Audience segmentation 97 73 82 -- 18 14 -- 5 2
Informative and persuasive 92 95 96 6 -- -- -- -- --
writing
Community relations, 92 77 80 6 15 14 -- 5 4
consumer relations, employee
relations, other practice areas
Technological and visual 89 78 78 6 17 18 3 2 2
literacy
Managing people, programs 86 80 82 8 12 14 3 5 2
and resources
Sensitive interpersonal 89 78 84 6 17 12 3 2 2
communication
Fluency in a foreign language 47 17 33 44 60 41 6 20 24
Ethical decision-making 89 92 92 8 2 6 -- 3 --
Participation in the 83 52 77 11 32 16 3 12 6
professional public relations
community
Message production 89 82 90 3 13 8 3 2 --
Working with a current issue 92 80 92 3 12 6 3 3 --
Public speaking and 89 88 90 6 7 8 -- 2 --
presentation
Applying cross-cultural and 86 67 77 6 22 18 6 7 4
cross-gender sensitivity
Note: The percentage of respondents in each group may not add up to 100% due to missing responses.



The researcher grouped the responses by subject area. The subject area most often

recommended was accounting/finance, and it was recommended by 22 respondents.

Courses on technology and the Internet were recommended by 10 respondents. Nine

respondents recommended that students should have extensive training in writing, nine








61
recommended that students learn journalistic writing, nine recommended courses in U.S.

or Western history, and nine recommended courses in marketing. Business management

courses were recommended by eight respondents. Interestingly, two people said that they

recommended no other courses. Table 4-6 lists the subjects that were recommended.


Table 4-5. The importance of the CPRE's recommended course components of
undergraduate public relations by percentage of public relations educators,
practitioners and both educators/practitioners

"Important" or "Very "Neutral" Importance "Not Very Important"
Important" or "Not Important"
Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both
Introduction to Public 94% 77% 92% 3% 17% 2% -- 3% 4%
Relations
Case Studies in Public 86 87 80 8 7 16 3 2 2
Relations
Public Relations 92 83 94 6 12 2 -- 2 2
Research,
Measurement and
Evaluation
Public Relations 92 93 98 6 2 -- 2 --
Writing and
Production
Public Relations 89 88 94 8 7 4 -- 2 --
Planning and
Management
Public Relations 92 78 90 6 17 6 -- 2 2
Campaigns
Supervised Work 89 87 96 3 10 2 3 -- --
Experience in Public
Relations (internship)
Directed Electives 69 55 71 22 37 28 6 5 --
Note: The percentage of respondents in each group may not add up to 100% due to missing responses.


The Importance of Subjects in Preparing College Students for Careers in Public
Relations and How Much Each Subject is Taught Now

In Part 2a of the questionnaire, respondents were asked to rate the importance of

30 subjects in preparing college students for careers in public relations. Respondents

were also asked to give their perception of how much each subject is taught now. The 30

subjects were: finance knowledge/budgeting, leadership skills, general social science









62


Yes
No Answ 67%
No
6%
42%


Yes
No 52%
28%
Educators PractitionAnswer
7%












EducatorsBoth Educators/Practitionersactitioners
No
37%



Yes
57%
Answer
6%




Both Educators/Practitioners


Figure 4-11. Whether or not the eight courses recommended by the CPRE are sufficient



knowledge (sociology, psychology, etc.), general liberal arts knowledge (English, history,


etc.), critical thinking and problem-solving skills, public opinion concepts/research


(surveys, focus groups, etc.), new PR technologies (computers, Internet, web page design,


etc.), statistics knowledge, international PR, graphics/desktop publishing skills,


organizational culture/philosophy, knowledge about crisis management, knowledge about


mass media, setting goals/objectives, long- and short-term strategic planning, publicity


techniques, meetings/workshops/seminars/conventions /conferences, PR


law/privacy/defamation/copyright/product liability/financial disclosure, etc., courses in


journalism, courses in advertising, courses in radio/TV/telecommunications, courses in










mass communication law, courses in photography, courses in film-making, courses in

art/design/graphics, courses in hypertext/web design, courses in political communication,

courses in marketing, courses in management/organizational behavior, and courses in

finance.

Table 4-6. Additional courses recommended by respondents

Subject Area Number of Respondents Who
Recommended the Subject
Educ. Prac. Both Total
Accounting/Finance/Economics/Budgeting/Fundraising 3 13 6 22
Technology/Internet 2 3 5 10
Extensive Training in Writing 5 2 2 9
Journalism/News Writing 2 4 3 9
Marketing 1 6 2 9
U.S./Western History -- 4 5 9
Business Management 1 6 1 8
Experience/Internship -- 3 4 7
Psychology -- 5 2 7
Liberal Arts Core Courses 1 4 1 6
Employee Relations/Media Relations 2 3 -- 5
Political Science -- 4 1 5
Global/International Public Relations 1 -- 3 4
Philosophy -- 3 1 4
Sociology -- 3 1 4
Media History -- 2 1 3
Research Methods 2 -- 1 3
Visual Communications (Film/Video) 1 1 1 3
Case Studies in Public Relations 1 -- 1 2
Consumer Behavior/Public Opinion/Attitude Change 1 -- 1 2
Creativity 1 1 -- 2
Crisis Communication/Issues Management -- 1 1 2
Desktop Publishing -- -- 2 2
Ethics 1 -- 1 2
Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) 1 -- 1 2
International Experience/Internship -- 1 1 2
Presentation/Speaking Skills and Interpersonal Communication 2 -- -- 2
World History -- -- 2 2
Advertising -- -- 1 1
How to Get New Business for an Agency -- 1 -- 1
Law -- -- 1 1
Organizational Dynamics -- -- 1 1
Public Affairs -- -- 1 1
Public Relations History 1 -- -- 1
Public Relations Theory -- -- 1 1
Relationship Development -- -- 1 1








64
Across the three groups, the subject "critical thinking and problem-solving skills"

was the subject that respondents felt was the most important. It was considered "quite" or

"very" important by 92% of educators and both educators/practitioners, and 93% of

practitioners. Five other subjects were considered "quite" or "very" important across all

three groups (80% or more of respondents in each group): "public opinion

concepts/research (surveys, focus groups, etc.)," "new PR technologies (computers,

Internet, web page design, etc.)," "knowledge about mass media," "setting

goals/objectives," and "long- and short-term strategic planning." The importance of the

other 24 subjects varied greatly, as can be seen in Table 4-7.

Of the 30 subjects, the subject that received the highest percentage of "not very"

or "not at all" important ratings across all three groups was "courses in film-making." It

was ranked "not very" or "not at all" important by 73% of educators, 53% of practitioners

and 57% of both educators/practitioners. Two other subjects, "courses in photography"

and "courses in art/design/graphics" were also considered "not very" or "not at all"

important by a higher percentage of each group. The subject "courses in photography"

was rated "not very" or "not at all" important by 47% of educators, 38% of practitioners

and 35% of both educators/practitioners. The subject "courses in art/design/graphics" was

rated "not very" or "not at all" important by 19% of educators, 33% of practitioners and

20% of both educators/practitioners. Results were mixed on the other variables, which

indicates that the three groups do not agree about the importance of the subjects (Table 4-

7).

When respondents were asked how much the 30 subjects were taught now, results

were very mixed. With the exception of 89% of educators who rated the subject "courses










Table 4-7. The importance of subjects for preparing college students for a public relations
career by percentage of educators, practitioners and both
educators/practitioners

"Quite" or "Very" "Somewhat" Important "Not Very" or "Not At
Important All" Important
Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both
Finance 64% 65% 34% 22% 30% 16% 8% 2% 2%
knowledge/budgeting
Leadership skills 75 72 78 19 20 20 -- 3 2
General social science 79 55 75 17 42 18 -- 6
knowledge
(sociology,
psychology, etc.)
General liberal arts 78 85 82 14 12 14 3 -- 4
knowledge (English,
history, etc.)
Critical thinking and 92 93 92 3 2 4 -- 2 4
problem-solving
skills
Public opinion 92 80 90 -- 13 10 -- 3 --
concepts/research
(surveys, focus
groups, etc.)
New PR technologies 92 83 88 3 10 10 -- 2 --
(computers, internet,
web page design, etc.)
Statistics knowledge 56 40 51 31 43 39 8 12 6
International PR 53 35 39 39 45 49 3 15 12
Graphics/desktop 64 32 69 25 48 16 6 15 16
publishing skills
Organizational 67 43 59 25 37 31 3 12 10
culture/philosophy
Knowledge about 72 82 82 22 10 14 -- 2 2
crisis management
Knowledge about 89 90 88 6 5 8 -- 2
mass media
Setting 86 85 88 6 7 10 -- 2 --
goals/objectives
Long- and short-term 89 80 90 3 10 10 3 3 --
strategic planning
Publicity techniques 72 80 73 19 13 26 -- 2 2
PR law/privacy/ 69 63 69 17 23 28 8 5 4
defamation/copyright/
product liability/
financial disclosure,
etc.
Courses injournalism 56 82 77 33 12 18 6 2 6
Courses in advertising 42 42 47 44 48 43 8 5 10
Courses in radio/TV/ 28 57 49 53 35 33 14 2 18
telecommunications
Courses in mass 42 43 51 39 38 37 14 13 12
communication law










Table 4-7-continued


"Quite" or "Very" "Somewhat" Important "Not Very" or "Not At
Important All" Important
Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both
Courses in 8 15 21 39 42 43 47 38 35
photography
Courses in film- 3 7 4 14 35 37 78 53 57
making
Courses in 44 17 28 31 43 53 19 33 20
art/design/graphics
Courses in 56 33 59 33 35 29 6 25 12
hypertext/web design
Courses in political 17 30 37 56 52 45 22 13 18
communication
Courses in marketing 75 83 78 19 12 18 -- -- 4
Courses in 72 68 71 19 23 20 3 3 8
management/organiz
national behavior
Courses in finance 47 62 53 25 30 28 19 3 20
Note: The percentage of respondents in each group may not add up to 100% due to missing responses.


in film-making" as taught "a little" or "none," there was little consensus among each

group about how much each subject is taught now. In many cases, approximately a third

of respondents rated a subject as taught "quite a bit" or "a lot," a third rated the subject as

taught "some," and a third rated the subject as taught "a little" or "none."

In general, the subjects can be grouped according to how much respondents

perceived they are taught. The subjects can be loosely grouped into three groups: those

subjects which were considered to be taught "quite a bit" or "a lot" by a slightly higher

percentage of respondents in each of the three groups, those subjects which were

considered to be taught "some" by a slightly higher percentage of respondents in each of

the three groups, and those subjects which were considered to be taught "a little" or

"none" by a slightly higher percentage of respondents in each of the three groups.

Those subjects which were perceived to be taught "quite a bit" or "a lot" by a

slightly higher percentage of respondents in each of the three groups were: "general








67
social science knowledge (sociology, psychology, etc.)," "general liberal arts knowledge

(English, history, etc.)," "graphics/desktop publishing skills," "knowledge about mass

media," "setting goals/objectives," "publicity techniques," and "courses injournalism."

Those subjects which were perceived to be taught "a little" or "none" by a slightly

higher percentage of respondents in each of the three groups were: "finance

knowledge/budgeting," "leadership skills," "courses in photography," "courses in film-

making," "courses in political communication," and "courses in finance."

The remaining 15 subjects were perceived to be taught "some" by a slightly

higher percentage of respondents in each of the three groups (Table 4-8).



Table 4-8. Amount each subject is taught now in undergraduate public relations
by percentage of educators, practitioners and both educators/practitioners

Taught "Quite a Bit" Taught "Some" Taught "A Little" or
or "A Lot" "None"
Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both
Finance 3% -- 4% 31% 23% 24% 58% 67% 73%
knowledge/budgeting
Leadership skills 19 2 8 39 30 37 36 60 55
General social science 53 23 33 33 38 45 8 27 22
knowledge (sociology,
psychology, etc.)
General liberal arts 58 42 59 28 33 37 8 15 4
knowledge (English,
history, etc.)
Critical thinking and 33 7 29 44 30 43 17 50 28
problem-solving skills
Public opinion 47 23 47 28 43 39 17 22 14
concepts/research (surveys,
focus groups, etc.)
New PR technologies 39 40 53 39 40 29 17 7 16
(computers, internet, web
page design, etc.)
Statistics knowledge 8 5 10 22 32 41 64 50 55
International PR 3 2 6 44 17 35 47 68 57
Graphics/desktop publishing 53 32 45 33 37 39 8 18 16
skills
Organizational 8 8 10 50 30 51 36 47 39
culture/philosophy
Knowledge about crisis 33 13 22 36 42 49 25 32 29
management










Table 4-8-continued


Taught "Quite a Bit" Taught "Some" Taught "A Little" or
or "A Lot" "None"
Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both
Knowledge about mass 67 60 73 22 25 28 3 2 --
media
Setting goals/objectives 67 18 41 19 40 37 6 27 22
Long- and short-term 53 10 31 36 40 43 6 35 26
strategic planning
Publicity techniques 69 62 78 17 20 16 6 5 6
Meetings/workshops/ 19 15 18 31 37 41 44 33 39
seminars/conventions
/conferences
PR law/privacy/ 28 23 29 36 35 43 31 28 28
defamation/copyright/
product liability/financial
disclosure, etc.
Courses in journalism 58 43 71 25 32 20 8 10 10
Courses in advertising 14 22 28 50 47 43 28 17 29
Courses in radio/TV/ 6 38 20 42 33 51 47 13 28
telecommunications
Courses in mass 44 22 39 36 37 37 14 27 24
communication law
Courses in photography 3 15 14 28 28 43 64 42 43
Courses in film-making 3 2 4 3 28 26 89 55 69
Courses in 31 12 20 25 32 39 39 42 39
art/design/graphics
Courses in hypertext/web 22 13 20 33 43 45 39 28 35
design
Courses in political 3 10 18 31 30 35 61 45 45
communication
Courses in marketing 39 33 14 25 23 55 31 27 31
Courses in 31 18 18 33 27 43 31 40 39
management/organizational
behavior
Courses in finance 3 12 4 14 12 20 75 62 75
Note: The percentage of respondents in each group may not add up to 100% due to missing responses.



The College in Which the Public Relations Department Should be Housed

In Part 2d of the questionnaire, respondents were asked to choose which college

they felt was the best home for the public relations department. Respondents were given

five choices: "journalism/communications," "business," "liberal arts,"

"speech/communications," and "other." The most popular college among most of

respondents was "journalism/communications." This college was chosen by 53% of








69
educators, 65% of practitioners and 59% of both educators/practitioners. Seventeen

percent of educators chose "speech/communications" as the best home for the public

relations department, and 14% chose "business" as the best college for the public

relations department. Twenty percent of practitioners chose "business" as the best home

for the public relations department. Eighteen percent of both educators/practitioners

chose "business" as the best college for the public relations department (Figures 4-12, 4-

13 and 4-14).



Journalism / Comm
53%





No Answe Business
8% 14%
Other speech /Comm
8% 17%


Figure 4-12. Educators' choice of the best college for the public relations department


Respondents' were also given the choice to type in their choice of the best college

to house the public relations department. Fifteen people typed in their choice of college.

Three people felt that the public relations department should be in a communications

college, but not under journalism or speech. Three people felt that the public relations

department should be in a communications college that includes journalism, speech and

mass communications. Two people felt that the public relations department should have

its own college, two felt that it should be housed with business communication, and one

felt it should be housed with marketing. Other responses given were: "depends on the








70
local context," "depends on the institution," "where the institution's culture provides it

with the most supportive environment," and "it makes no difference as long as there is an

appropriate curriculum."


Figure 4-13. Practitioners' choice of the best college for the public relations department


Figure 4-14. Both educators'/practitioners' choice of the best college for the public
relations department


Journalism / Comm
65%




Business
20%
No Answer 20%
7% 1 Liberal Arts
Speech / Comm 7%
2%


Journalism / Comm
59%



No Answer
2%
Other
16%


Business
18%








71
The Best Two Career Plans for Future Public Relations Professionals

In Part 2c of the questionnaire, respondents were asked to choose the best two

career plans for future public relations professionals from a list of six choices. The

choices were:

* Major in PR, minor in a professional field (like business, education, etc.)
* Major in a professional field, minor in PR
* Major in a general liberal arts field (like English, history, etc.), minor in PR
* Major in a general liberal arts field, minor in a professional field (like business)
* Major in social science (like psychology, sociology, etc.), minor in PR
* Major in journalism, minor in PR

The choice of best and second best career plans according to educators was clear.

Most educators (75%) chose "major in PR, minor in a professional field (like business,

education, etc.)" as the best career plan for future public relations professionals. For the

second best career plan, 36% of educators chose "major in professional field, minor in

PR," and 22% chose "major in journalism, minor in PR."

Practitioners, on the other hand, varied greatly in their choices for best and second

best career plans. Although a majority of practitioners (37%) chose "major in PR, minor

in a professional field (like business, education, etc.)" as the best career plan, three other

career plans followed closely in the amount of support they received for best career plan.

Twenty percent of practitioners felt that "major in general liberal arts field (like English,

history, etc.), minor in PR" was the best career plan, another 20% felt that "major in

journalism, minor in PR" was the best career choice, and 17% felt that "major in a

professional field, minor in PR" was the best career plan. The support for second best

career plan also varied among practitioners. Thirty-three percent of practitioners chose

"major in journalism, minor in PR" as the second best career plan, 23% chose "major in a

professional field, minor in PR," another 23% chose "major in a general liberal arts field








72
(like English, history, etc.), minor in PR," and 22% chose "major in PR, minor in a

professional field (like business, education, etc.)" as the second best career plan.

Most of both educators/practitioners, 67%, chose "major in PR, minor in a

professional field (like business, education, etc.)" as the best career plan for future public

relations professionals. Following that, "major in journalism, minor in PR," received the

support of 16% of both educators/practitioners for best career plan, and "major in a

general liberal arts field (like English, history, etc.), minor in PR" received the support of

12% of both educators/practitioners for best career plan. For the second best career plan,

results varied among both educators/practitioners. All career plans except "major in a

general liberal arts field, minor in a professional field (like business)" were chosen by at

least 14% or more of both educators/practitioners as the second best career plan (Table 4-

9).


Table 4-9. The best and second best career plans for future public relations professionals

Best Plan Second Best Plan
Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both
Major in PR, minor in a 75% 37% 67% 3% 22% 14%
professional field (like business,
education, etc.)
Major in a professional field, 11 17 8 36 23 33
minor in PR
Major in a general liberal arts field 3 20 12 8 23 22
(like English, history, etc.), minor
in PR
Major in a general liberal arts 3 7 8 3 8 8
field, minor in a professional field
(like business)
Major in social science (like -- 2 2 8 8 22
psychology, sociology, etc.),
minor in PR
Major injournalism, minor in PR 8 20 16 22 33 28
Note: The percentage of respondents in each group may not add up to 100% due to missing responses.








73
Preparedness of Public Relations Graduates

In Part 2d of the questionnaire, respondents were asked if they had ever, or were

currently, working with or supervising college graduates who majored in public relations.

Respondents who answered "yes" were asked to complete a section of the questionnaire

about the preparedness of those public relations graduates. (Those who

answered "no," that they had not worked with or supervised public relations graduates,

were asked to skip the section.)

Of the educators, 39% were working with or had worked with public relations

graduates, 42% had not, and 19% did not answer the question. Of the practitioners, 67%

were working with or had worked with a public relations graduate, 30% had not, and 3%

did not answer the question. Of the both educators/practitioners, 73% were working with

or had worked with a public relations graduate and 28% had not.

Because some respondents had never worked with a public relations graduate and

therefore did not answer the questions about the preparedness of graduates, the

percentages given here are the percentages of those who responded. For example, for the

first variable, "media production skills," 12 educators answered the question, and five of

the 12 indicated that the graduates they had worked with were "quite" or "very" prepared

in "media production skills." Therefore, 42% of the educators who responded to the

question considered the graduates "quite" or "very" prepared in "media production skills."

There were 12 topic areas on which respondents were asked to rate the

preparedness of graduates. The topics were: media production skills, management skills,

writing, presentation and speaking skills, research, campaign planning, problem-solving,








74
audience analysis, media relations, application of PR theory, ethics, and new technology

(computers, Internet, etc.).

Of the 12 topics, only one, "new technology (computers, Internet, etc.)," was a

topic in which most of respondents felt public relations graduates were "quite" or "very"

prepared. Seventy-three percent of educators, 77% of practitioners and 75% of both

educators/practitioners felt that public relations graduates were "quite" or "very" prepared

in "new technology (computer, Internet, etc.)." For all the other topics, the responses

were varied. A good percentage of respondents indicated that public relations graduates

were moderately prepared in the remaining 11 subjects (Table 4-10).


Table 4-10. The preparedness of college public relations graduates

"Quite" or "Very" "Moderate" "Little" or "None"
Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both Educ. Prac. Both
Media Production 42% 18% 27% 25% 61% 41% 33% 21% 32%
Skills
Management skills 18 3 5 55 21 43 27 76 51
Writing 58 24 51 33 55 38 8 21 11
Presentation and 50 33 49 50 39 35 -- 27 16
speaking
Research 33 12 27 58 55 30 8 33 43
Campaign planning 27 12 32 55 52 35 18 36 32
Problem-solving 25 6 28 50 47 50 25 47 22
Audience analysis 33 13 28 33 34 36 33 53 36
Media relations 45 25 53 36 50 39 18 25 8
Application of PR 25 19 37 75 56 31 -- 25 31
theory
Ethics 50 41 43 33 34 43 17 25 14
New technology 73 77 75 27 23 22 -- 3
(computers, internet,
etc.)
Note: The percentage of respondents in each group may not add up to 100% due to missing responses.


The Importance of Nine Criteria of the Public Relations Profession

In Part 3a of the questionnaire, respondents were asked to rank the order of

importance of nine criteria of the public relations profession from most important (1) to









least important (9). Respondents' opinions on the order of importance of the nine criteria

were varied, as can be seen in Table 4-8. To simplify this analysis, the criteria have been

called "criterion A," criterion B," and so on. The nine criteria are as follows:


Criterion A
Criterion B


* Criterion C



* Criterion D



* Criterion E



* Criterion F



* Criterion G


* Criterion H




* Criterion I


Maintaining a code of ethics and professional norms.
Commitment to serve the public interest and be socially
responsible.
Having a body of esoteric, scholarly knowledge. (This includes
scholarly journals, books and other publications that comprise a
body of literature and knowledge specifically for public
relations.)
Having technical and research skills. (Technical skills include
writing, speaking, planning, etc. Research skills include the
ability to conduct quantitative or qualitative research through
surveys, interviews, focus groups, etc.)
Providing a unique service to the organization and the
community. (Public relations professionals are specially trained to
provide a service that cannot be offered by any other type of
professional.)
Having membership in professional organizations. (A large
percentage of public relations professionals and scholars are
members of professional organizations such as the Public
Relations Society of America, etc.)
Having autonomy and responsibility to make decisions. (Public
relations professionals are given the freedom and responsibility to
make decisions about how they perform their work.)
Having specialized/certified/continuing education, including
graduate study. (Public relations professionals are trained in
public relations at the college level, that education is certified by
either the state or a professional organization, and graduate
education and continuing education are commonly pursued.)
Having examination by the state and certification of practitioners.
(Upon completion of a course of study, public relations
practitioners are required to pass a state examination to become
certified public relations practitioners.)


There was clear agreement among all three groups on only one of the criteria.

Criterion I was rated least important (9) by 56% of educators, 62% of practitioners and

61% of both educators/practitioners. There was little agreement either between groups or

within groups about the importance of the other variables. Percentages of respondents








76
were widely distributed. For example, 17% of educators ranked criterion A as the most

important (1) criterion, 36% of educators ranked criterion B as the most important (1)

criterion, and 25% of educators ranked criterion D as the most important (1) criterion.

Overall, there seems to be a general trend among the three groups to find the first four

criteria (A, B, C and D) as more important (Table 4-11).


Additional Criteria Recommended by Respondents

Respondents were asked to type in criteria that were not listed but that they felt

were important. Fifty-eight respondents gave their suggestions. There was a wide range

of suggestions, which were grouped into categories by the researcher. The most common

recommendation, given by eight respondents, was that public relations professionals

should be outstanding writers. The next most common recommendation, given by seven

respondents, was that public relations professionals should be knowledgeable in business

and finance. Six respondents recommended that public relations professionals be creative

problem solvers with good critical thinking skills. Five respondents said that public

relations professionals should have outstanding communication skills, and five

respondents said professionals should be team workers. The recommendations are listed

in Table 4-12.
















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Table 4-12. Additional criteria recommended by respondents


Recommendation Number of
Respondents Who
Gave the
Recommendation
Be an outstanding writer. 8
Have business and finance knowledge. 7
Be a creative problem solver and have critical thinking skills. 6
Have outstanding communication skills. 5
Be a team worker. 5
Have curiosity. 4
Have good judgment. 3
Think like a journalist and understand the news media. 3
Be part of management. 3
Be good at planning and executing. 3
Have marketing knowledge. 3
Have common sense. 2
Be trustable. 2
Be respectable. 2
Have a strong work ethic and high energy. 2
Be creative. 2
Be able to make decisions on deadline. 2
Know many subjects. 2
Have a lot of knowledge about the business area in which you practice. 2
Be confident. 1
Have poise. 1
Be a good listener. 1
Have a sense of humor. 1
Be able to handle stress. 1
Have a positive attitude. 1
Be organized. 1
Be a self-starter. 1
Have people skills. 1
Have leadership skills. 1
Have a passion for public relations. 1
Be attentive to detail. 1
Have personal integrity/professional norms/ethics. 1
Understand you audience. 1
Put the client's goals and objectives first. 1
Have good time management. 1
Be committed to diversity.
Adjust to change. 1
Be able to link public relations to organizational goals. 1
Be able to present differing ideas to management. 1
Do an internship at an agency, regardless of what type of public relations 1
you want to do.
Take part in mentoring. 1
Learn a foreign language. 1
Be computer literate. 1















CHAPTER 5
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

The purpose of this study was to determine how undergraduate college education

contributes to the public relations profession by preparing students to become

professionals. Because public relations educators and practitioners are directly involved

in public relations work and education on a daily basis, they are the ones who best know

the state of the profession today and what needs to be done to improve it and its methods

of education. Therefore, to better understand how education contributes to the profession,

the researcher surveyed public relations educators, public relations practitioners, and

those who consider themselves to be both educators and practitioners. The three groups

were asked questions to determine what they think is important to be taught, what is

being taught now, how well prepared graduates are, and the importance of the criteria of

the profession.

It was important to differentiate between public relations educators, practitioners

and both educators/practitioners because the people in these groups have differing

opinions about public relations education. The survey revealed the similarities and

differences in opinion between the three groups, indicating how close the groups come to

consensus about what should be taught in public relations education. As discussed in the

literature review, consensus is important in advancing the public relations profession.








80
What Public Relations Graduates Should Know

The literature review revealed knowledge and subjects that scholars felt was

important for undergraduate public relations students to learn. The questionnaire asked

respondents how they felt about the importance of the knowledge and subjects.

Respondents were first asked about the importance of 12 knowledge components

of undergraduate public relations education. The survey results indicated that there was

consensus among educators, practitioners and both educators/practitioners about the

importance of most of these knowledge components. For 11 of the 12 knowledge

components, most of the respondents in each group indicated that the knowledge

components were "important" or "very important." It was easy to see that the three groups

agreed that the knowledge component "communication and persuasion concepts and

strategies" was important for students to know because 94% of educators, 90% of

practitioners and 92% of both educators/practitioners said this component was

"important" or "very important."

Although differences between the three groups were minor, there was some

difference of opinion seen among practitioners. While most of each group found the

knowledge components "multicultural and global issues," and "organizational change and

development" important, practitioners differed somewhat in opinion when compared to

educators and both educators/practitioners. That is, while 94% of educators and 80% of

both educators/practitioners found "multicultural and global issues" to be important, only

67% of practitioners found this knowledge to be important for students. A similar

difference of opinion among practitioners was seen in the "organizational change and

development" component, with 86% of educators and 88% of both








81
educators/practitioners indicating that this knowledge was important, while only 60% of

practitioners found it important. So although all three groups generally agreed that 11 of

the 12 knowledge components were important, there was some slight variation between

groups.

One knowledge component, "public relations history," received less support from

each of the three groups about its importance. This component was rated "important" or

"very important" by 75% of educators, 30% of practitioners and 51% of both

educators/practitioners. Again, a smaller percentage of practitioners rated this component

as important when compared to educators and both educators/practitioners. In fact, 25%

of practitioners said "public relations history" was "not very important" or "not

important." Another interesting difference was found among educators. Most educators,

75%, felt that public relations history was important, although the other two groups did

not find it to be as important.

Overall, the 12 knowledge components can be organized from most important to

least important by totaling the percentages of respondents in all groups who felt the

component was "important" or "very important." Although the items at the end of the list

were seen to have less importance, it must be noted that they were still considered to be

important by most respondents. The most important knowledge components were, in

order of importance, starting with the most important component:

* Communication and persuasion concepts and strategies
* Communication and public relations theories
* Ethical issues
* Relationships and relationship building
* Use of research and forecasting
* Societal trends
* Marketing and finance
* Management concepts and theories









* Legal requirements and issues
* Multicultural and global issues
* Organizational change and development

As was stated previously, the knowledge component "public relations history" was

viewed to be somewhat less important that the other 11 components.


What Public Relations Graduates Should Be Able to Do

When asked about the importance of certain skills in undergraduate public

relations education, the three groups of respondents generally agreed about the

importance of the 20 skills. The majority of educators, practitioners and both

educators/practitioners indicated that 19 of the 20 skills were "important" or "very

important." That is, the percentage of respondents who indicated the skills were

important usually fell within 75 to 97% of the respondents in each group. There were, of

course, some exceptions. For example, a lower percentage of practitioners, 52%, felt that

the skill "participation in the professional public relations community" was important,

while 83% of educators and 77% of both educators/practitioners felt it was important. A

similar trend was seen with the skill "applying cross-cultural and cross-gender

sensitivity." While 86% of educators and 77% of both educators/practitioners rated this

skill as important, a slightly lower percentage of practitioners (67%) rated it important.

Interestingly, there seemed to be a trend for a slightly higher percentage of

educators to rank each skill as important and a slightly lower percentage of practitioners

to rank each skill as important. However, it was clear that some skills were highly valued

by all three groups. The skill "mastery of language in written and oral communication"

was deemed important by 97% of educators, 95% of practitioners and 98% of both

educators/practitioners. It is clear that the three groups agreed on the importance of this








83
skill. In addition, the three groups agreed that the skill "informative and persuasive

writing" was important-92% of educators, 95% of practitioners and 96% of both

educators/practitioners indicated that this skill was "important" or "very important."

Only one skill, "fluency in a foreign language," was found to be less important to

the respondents. Practitioners in particular did not find this skill to be very important.

Only 17% of practitioners ranked this skill as "important" or "very important." A larger

percentage of practitioners, 60%, rated this skill to be of "neutral" importance, and 20%

rated it as not important. The educators/practitioners had varied opinions on the

importance of the fluency in a foreign language skill. Thirty-three percent of both

educators/practitioner rated this skill as important, 41% found it to be of neutral

importance, and 24% felt that it was not important. Educators were the most supportive

of this skill, with 47% who said the skill was important. Only 6% of educators felt that it

was not important for students to learn a foreign language.

Although there were some minor differences in opinion, there tended to be a

general agreement among all three groups about the importance of the skills. Overall, the

20 skill components can be ordered from most important to least important by totaling the

percentages of respondents in all groups who felt the component was "important" or

"very important." Although the items at the end of the list were seen to have less

importance, it must be noted that they were still considered to be important by the

majority of respondents. The most important skills were, in order of importance, starting

with the most important component:

* Mastery of language in written and oral communication
* Informative and persuasive writing
* Problem solving and negotiation
* Strategic planning









* Ethical decision-making
* Research methods and analysis
* Public speaking and presentation
* Working with a current issue
* Management of information
* Management of communication
* Issues management
* Message production
* Audience segmentation
* Sensitive interpersonal communication
* Community relations, consumer relations, employee relations, other practice areas
* Managing people, programs and resources
* Technological and visual literacy
* Applying cross-cultural and cross-gender sensitivity
* Participation in the professional public relations community

As discussed, only one skill component, "fluency in a foreign language," was not seen to

be as important as the others.


What Courses Should Be Taught in Undergraduate Public Relations Education

The trend of responses continued with the analysis of the importance of eight

course components for undergraduate public relations education. As with the knowledge

and skill components, the eight course components were viewed to be important by the

majority of educators, practitioners and both educators/practitioners. All eight courses

were considered important, but again, one component was seen to have somewhat less

importance. Here, it was the "directed electives" component. This course was considered

to be important by 69% of educators, 55% of practitioners and 71% of both

educators/practitioners. The rest of the courses were considered to be important by 77%

or more of each group.

As with the knowledge and skill components, practitioners differed in opinion

slightly about the importance of certain courses when compared with the opinions of

educators and both educators/practitioners. For example, a lower percentage of








85
practitioners (77%) rated "introduction to public relations" as important, while 94% of

educators and 92% of both educators/practitioners felt this course was important. A

similar type of difference among practitioners was also seen in the course components

"public relations research, measurement and evaluation," and "public relations

campaigns." A lower percentage of practitioners (83%) rated the research course

important, as compared to 92% of educators and 94% of both educators/practitioners. A

lower percentage of practitioners (78%) rated the campaigns course as important, as

compared to 92% of educators and 90% of both educators/practitioners.

Although there were some minor differences in opinion, there tended to be a

general agreement among all three groups about the importance of the courses. Overall,

the eight courses can be ordered from most important to least important by totaling the

percentages of respondents in all groups who felt the component was "important" or

"very important." Although the items at the end of the list were seen to have less

importance, it must be noted that they were still considered to be important by most

respondents. The most important courses were, in order of importance, with the most

important course listed first:

* Public Relations Writing and Production
* Supervised Work Experience in Public Relations (internship)
* Public Relations Planning and Management
* Public Relations Research, Measurement and Evaluation
* Introduction to Public Relations
* Public Relations Campaigns
* Case Studies in Public Relations

Again, only one course, directed electives, was considered somewhat less important by

all three groups.








86
It is interesting to note that the public relations campaigns and case studies

courses were deemed by respondents to be of somewhat lesser importance. Although

these two courses rank very closely in importance to the other courses, perhaps their

lower ranking indicates that respondents felt it is more important for public relations

students to learn how to do things by using intellectual techniques rather than past

examples. Perhaps the respondents felt that it is better for public relations professionals to

think of original materials and solutions for public relations campaigns and problems

rather than rely on techniques that were used previously.

When asked if the eight course components were sufficient for undergraduate

public relations education, 67% of educators said yes, 52% of practitioners said yes, and

57% of both educators/practitioners said yes. Although these percentages comprise most

each group, it was apparent that a good percentage of respondents felt that other courses

should be included in the public relations curriculum. When asked to list other courses

that should be included in undergraduate public relations education, respondents gave a

wide variety of answers. The most commonly given recommendation was an accounting

and finance course, which was recommended by 22 respondents. Because this section

solicited open responses, and the respondent was free to skip the section, it would seem

that those who chose to type something felt strongly about their recommendations. The

fact that 22 respondents felt strongly enough to recommend an accounting and finance

course suggested that this course may be important in undergraduate public relations

education.

Other recommendations for courses that should be included in the public relations

curriculum included technology and the internet, extensive training in writing,








87
journalistic writing, marketing, history and business management. Each of these course

topics was recommended by eight or more respondents. The respondents who chose to

answer this section felt strongly about their recommendations. Many respondents wrote a

long paragraph describing their recommendations) and rationale. For example, one

respondent who recommended journalistic writing courses wrote:

From within the JMC program students should take additional course in news
writing-not just "PR writing"-and other writing courses that polish their
writing and editing skills. My view is that much of what a PR person does ain't
brain surgery, but if they are wonderfully skilled at writing, they will perform an
important function that others in the organization cannot. Too many of today's PR
students are not as well trained in writing as their counterparts in print journalism.
In fact, our PR program often gets requests for entry-level PR people "who are
print journalist majors and not PR majors."

Interestingly, one respondent said that he or she does not believe there should be

an undergraduate degree in public relations. The respondent said, "I have an

undergraduate liberal arts degree [and a graduate degree] and I couldn't have been better

prepared except for a grad degree in business and PR together!" Another respondent said:

A PR person has to be very well-rounded on a lot of issues. Study in political
science, sociology, psychology, marketing, business etc. A strong journalism
curriculum requires this same level of broad understanding and PR folks need it
as well.

Although some of the recommendations for courses were made by only a few

respondents, the responses showed that although there was a general consensus about the

importance of the eight courses listed on the questionnaire, there were still some

differences in opinion about what makes a good public relations curriculum.


Subjects That Should Be Taught to Public Relations Students

When respondents were asked to rate the importance of 30 subjects for preparing

students for public relations careers, results varied. This differed from the trends seen on








88
the knowledge components, skill components and course components, where most

respondents in each group rated most components as important. Instead, the responses

given about the importance of the subjects suggested that some subjects were definitely

more important that others. However, although some subjects were more important that

others, it appeared that educators, practitioners and both educators/practitioners generally

agreed about the importance of the subjects, because similar percentages of respondents

in each group were found for each subject.

Other than grouping the subjects in a general order from most important to least

important, it was hard to determine any other trends in the data. For example, in the

previously examined data, it was seen that sometimes lower percentages of practitioners

rated a variable as important when compared to educators and both

educators/practitioners. However, a similar trend did not reveal itself here. Although

there were some variables on which the percentage of practitioners was lower, there were

other variables on which the percentage of educators was lower, or the percentage of both

educators/practitioners was lower, etc. That is, the percentages of respondents in each

group and on each variable varied. However, there was a general trend in which the

groups agreed about the importance of the subjects. Overall, the 30 subjects can be

arranged from most important to least important by totaling the percentages of

respondents in all groups who felt the component was "important" or "very important."

The researcher divided the subjects by "most important," "of somewhat lesser

importance," and "least important" by totaling the percentage of respondents in each

group (for a maximum total of 300 percentage points) and placing the subjects that

received 200 points or more in the "most important" group, the subjects that received 100









points or more in the "of somewhat lesser importance" group, and the subjects that

received fewer than 100 points in the "least important" group. The most important

subjects were, in order of importance, with the most important subject listed first:

* Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
* Knowledge about mass media
* New PR technologies (computers, internet, web page design, etc.)
* Public opinion concepts/research (surveys, focus groups, etc.)
* Setting goals/objectives
* Long- and short-term strategic planning
* General liberal arts knowledge (English, history, etc.)
* Knowledge about crisis management
* Courses in marketing
* Leadership skills
* Publicity techniques
* Courses in journalism
* Courses in management/organization behavior
* General social science knowledge (sociology, psychology, etc.)
* PR law/privacy/defamation/copyright/product liability/financial disclosure, etc.

The subjects that were rated to be of somewhat lesser importance were as follows:

* Organizational culture/philosophy
* Graphics/desktop publishing skills
* Finance knowledge/budgeting
* Courses in finance
* Courses in hypertext/web design
* Statistics knowledge
* Courses in mass communication law
* Courses in radio/TV/telecommunications
* Courses in advertising
* International PR
* Meetings/workshops/seminars/conventions/conferences

Finally, the subjects that received the least support as being important subjects were as

follows:

* Courses in art/design/graphics
* Courses in political communication
* Courses in photography
* Courses in film-making








90
Interestingly, although the subject "finance knowledge/budgeting" received

somewhat less support across the three groups (64% of educators, 65% of practitioners

and 34% of both educators/practitioners), this subject area was most often recommended

by respondents in the free-response section of courses (discussed previously) that should

be included in the public relations curriculum.


How Much Subjects Are Taught Now

As the respondents rated the importance of each of the 30 subjects on the

questionnaire, they were also asked to rate how much each of those subjects is taught

now in undergraduate public relations. The responses varied greatly. While there

appeared to be some general consensus among educators, practitioners and both

educators/practitioners on some of the variables, there was also evidence that the groups

did not agree about how much each subject is taught. For example, approximately one-

third of all respondents thought the subject "PR

law/privacy/defamation/copyright/product liability/financial disclosure, etc." is taught

"quite a bit" or "a lot," one-third who thought it is taught "some," and one-third who

thought it is taught "a little" or "none." So while there were similar percentages of

respondents in each group, the perception of how much each subject is taught varies from

much to none.

There were some subjects in which it was easier to see a consensus among the

three groups of respondents. Most educators (58%), practitioners (67%) and both

educators/practitioners (73%) felt that "finance knowledge/budgeting" is taught "a little"

or "none." A similar response was seen with the subjects "statistics knowledge,"

"international PR," "courses in film-making," "courses in political communication," and








91
"courses in finance." Most respondents in each of the three groups felt that these subjects

are not taught much. Although these subjects were perceived to be taught less, it is

important to note that respondents felt that finance knowledge/budgeting, statistics

knowledge, international PR and courses in finance were all considered to be important

by respondents. The only subject that was not considered important and was also

perceived to not be taught much was "courses in film-making." "Courses in political

communication" was considered to be of moderate importance even though it is

perceived to be taught little.

On the other hand, some subjects were perceived to be taught "quite a bit" or "a

lot" by most respondents. The subjects that were perceived to be taught more were

"general liberal arts knowledge," "knowledge about mass media," "publicity techniques,"

and "courses in journalism." Interestingly, all of the courses that were perceived to be

taught a lot were also considered to be important by most of the respondents.

The rest of the subjects received mixed results about how much they are taught.

Although respondents did not agree about how much the remaining courses are taught,

they still agreed that these courses are important:

* Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
* New PR technologies (computers, internet, web page design, etc.)
* Public opinion concepts/research (surveys, focus groups, etc.)
* Setting goals/objectives
* Long- and short-term strategic planning
* Knowledge about crisis management
* Courses in marketing
* Leadership skills
* Courses in management/organization behavior
* General social science knowledge (sociology, psychology, etc.)
* PR law/privacy/defamation/copyright/product liability/financial disclosure, etc.
* Organizational culture/philosophy
* Graphics/desktop publishing skills
* Courses in hypertext/web design









* Courses in mass communication law
* Courses in radio/TV/telecommunications
* Courses in advertising
* Meetings/workshops/seminars/conventions/conferences


The Home of the Public Relations Department

It was clear that most respondents felt that the public relations department should

be housed in the college of journalism and communications. Fifty-three percent of

educators, 65% of practitioners and 59% of both educators/practitioners felt that this was

the best home for public relations. The business college was the runner-up, with 14% of

educators, 20% of practitioners and 18% of both educators/practitioners who said this

was the best home for the public relations department. With the exception of 17% of

educators who said the speech communications college was the best home for public

relations, there was little support for other colleges.

The choice of college for the public relations department is important because, as

discussed in the literature review, the college can affect how public relations is taught, the

educational background of professors who teach public relations, the financial support the

department receives, etc. Some scholars feel that if public relations is housed in the

college of journalism, the education students receive focuses too much on journalism and

not enough on public relations. However, it should be noted that some of the survey

respondents indicated that it is important for public relations students to have training in

journalistic writing techniques. Journalistic writing courses are important because, as one

respondent wrote, journalism teaches students about "probing for accuracy, reporting

with objectivity." Another respondent discussed the importance of a public relations

education with a "sound grounding in journalism." That respondent wrote this:








93
"How to recognize what news is, and what it isn't, and how to communicate to the
fourth estate about that which is important, is paramount to our profession. Too
often the recent grads I talk to bubble on about how their 'team' is working on a
project but cannot identify one or two reasons why that project is important. If
they cannot answer the question: 'why should I care' they are not prepared for the
real world."

The respondents were given the choice to type in their choice for the best home

for the public relations department. The recommendations given were interesting. Two

people recommended that public relations should have its own college, one said that it

should be "where the institution's culture provides it with the most supportive

environment," and another said "it makes no difference as long as there is an appropriate

curriculum." Answers like these indicated that respondents wanted public relations to be

housed wherever it is seen as its own entity and not as a sub-discipline.


The Best Two Career Plans for Future Public Relations Professionals

Respondents choices for the best career plans for public relations students were

very interesting. Seventy-five percent of educators felt that "major in PR, minor in a

professional field (like business, education, etc.)" was the best career plan. This seemed

to be a likely choice for educators, since they are public relations educators-it would

seem likely that they would support the curriculum in which they teach! For second best

career plan, 36% of educators chose "major in a professional field, minor in PR," and

22% chose "major in journalism, minor in PR." Both of the most commonly

recommended second-best choices included public relations as a minor. Again, it

appeared that educators were supporting the field in which they teach.

On the other hand, practitioners varied greatly in their choices for best career

plan. The career plan "major in PR, minor in a professional field" did receive the most








94
support from practitioners (37%) which indicated that practitioners do feel public

relations education is valuable. However, three other career plans received a good amount

of support for the best career plan. Twenty percent of practitioners felt that "major in

general liberal arts field (like English, history, etc.), minor in PR" was the best career

plan, another 20% felt that "major in journalism, minor in PR" was the best career choice,

and 17% felt that "major in a professional field, minor in PR" was the best career plan.

This was worth noting because it may be related to the wide variety of majors in which

practitioners majored in themselves. That is, it seems likely that a person would chose

their own major as the best career plan. Given that the people who responded to this

survey represented a great variety of majors, it could be that this was reflected in the

great variety in choice of best career plan. For example, journalism was a commonly

listed major of respondents, and 20% of respondents felt that majoring in journalism

would be good for future public relations professionals. Also, there were many other

majors listed by respondents, such as engineering and forestry. These types of majors

could be categorized as general liberal arts fields or professionals fields, which were also

supported as good majors by practitioners. Finally, it was interesting to see that each of

the best career plans chosen by practitioners included public relations either as a major or

a minor. Practitioners' choice of second best career plan was spread among four of the six

plans listed. This may also reflect the varying educational backgrounds of practitioners.

Most of both educators/practitioners supported the career plan "major in PR,

minor in a professional field" as the best plan. After that, "major in liberal arts, minor in

PR" and "major in journalism, minor in PR" received a little support (12 and 16%,




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