Public Relations is a broad field that spans all industries and businesses. PR graduates can be found representing professional sports teams, global clothing manufacturers, Hollywood production studios, energy companies, hospitals, international non-profits and small businesses. This wide variety of opportunities is due to the fact that PR people are professional communicators, and all organizations, big and small, must communicate with a variety of audiences in order to succeed.
The Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture’s undergraduate program in PR prepares graduates to successfully enter the public relations field.
The primary role of a PR practitioner is to create, maintain and build relationships with an organization’s publics. To accomplish these tasks, practitioners may write news releases, organize grassroots organizations, plan events, create newsletters, lobby government officials, form coalitions among organizations or maintain a presence in social media outlets.
Research is also an important part of PR. Creating surveys and organizing focus groups are common techniques used to gain insights into what groups of people believe and think. Based on the information gathered from these tools, practitioners create strategic communications plans aimed at changing attitudes and perceptions held by mass audiences. A number of concepts from psychology play an important role in this process.
PR practitioners are ethical. Being misleading or lying can not only damage the reputation of a practitioner, but it can also damage the reputation of whatever organization the practitioner represents. Because of this, practitioners are often forced to make difficult decisions and guide organizations though ethical dilemmas. Due to occasional conflicting interests between an organization and its publics, a PR practitioner bridges these gaps, sometimes being an advocate for the organization, while other times advocating on behalf of the publics to executive management. See salary information for PR practitioners starting at roughly 5 years experience from the Public Relations Society of America.
Learn more from the VCU Bulletin about the undergraduate sequence in public relations.