At Georgia Southern, students who major in public relations start off with a core set of classes followed by specialties that cover a broad range of interests.
“A lot of people are interested in health communications; another large group is interested in event planning or international PR,” Andrews said. “There’s also a difference between working in a firm or corporation and a nonprofit, and we have courses for that, too. Students can focus on Web content, development, layout and design. But if there’s something specific they’re interested in, they can minor in it, (such as) getting a bachelor’s in PR with a minor in international relations or fashion merchandising.”
In the third year of the program, students work with actual clients to research and produce a PR campaign. The “clients” are businesses and members of the local community.
“We also have clients from right here on campus,” Andrews said. “For some classes, the student may be responsible for finding a client; in some, the professor has a list to suggest. We get a lot of referrals from people in the community who have worked with our students and enjoyed what they produced. Either way, it gives them a chance to produce pieces and design a campaign.”
Although the PR field is often depicted as glamorous, Andrews said students need to know that it also requires a lot of hard work.
“While I can’t say if there is an ideal candidate for PR, it does need to be someone who is willing not only to learn theoretical concepts but to also put them into action,” she said. “It’s also a good fit for someone who enjoys writing. If you can write, you can write your own ticket, but that’s also the hardest part. Many students don’t realize the amount of writing that’s necessary in the PR field.”
Graduates of the program have a wide range of options open to them, including going into public relations, marketing or advertising jobs, or enrolling in graduate school.
“Our graduates are in so many places across the board,” Andrews said. “The jobs are there. That may be why PR is one of those degrees that, when we can offer a class, it always fills up, even during the summer.”