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All About an Online Bachelors Degree in Public Relations

While studying for an online public relations degree, you learn about building and maintaining an image that benefits your client — whether your client happens to be a corporation, school, charity, politician, celebrity, or other public figure — then getting their message to the right audience. As such, this degree may help a student to develop and advance their natural abilities to share and interpret information. 

A public relations professional might use traditional methods to disseminate messaging like press releases, press conferences, public service announcements, and printed materials, or one might employ more modern techniques, like podcasting, blogging, and video.

What courses can I expect to take to earn an online public relations degree?

While the exact curriculum requirements will vary among schools, a communications major should know about many topics, so courses generally focus on a wide range of issues. Here is a partial list of some of the courses you might take while pursuing an online public relations degree:

  • Principles of Public Relations
  • Fundamentals of Journalism
  • Public Opinion & Mass Media
  • Mass Media and Society
  • Mass Communication Law & Ethics
  • Writing for Public Relations
  • Media Relations
  • Visual Design for Media
  • Publication Editing and Design
  • Integrated Communications Campaigns
  • Crisis Communications
  • Special Events Planning
  • Social Media for Communication Strategy
  • Political Public Relations
  • Image Management
  • Leading Public Relations Organizations
  • Publications and Market Research
  • Public Relations Seminar
  • Organizational Communication
  • Persuasive Writing

Is an online public relations degree right for me?

There are some common traits found in people well suited for life as a public relations executive. Consider this degree if:

  • You are a social butterfly; you consider yourself a "people-person."
  • You know how to communicate with clarity and diplomacy, both in writing and in-person.
  • You can keep your finger on the pulse to maintain an extensive social and professional network.
  • You know how to use the latest technologies to get messages out to a broad audience, including Internet, e-mail, and direct mail strategies also used by marketing departments.
  • You are aware of the world around you and understand their clients' role in the bigger context.
  • You can handle delicate matters with calm, discretion, and poise. If your client faces an emergency, you will be under a tight deadline and held to serious scrutiny.
  • You know more than one language.

What do public relations professionals do?

Everyone wants to convey to the public that they're the best at what they do. In a competitive market, a business depends not only on its practices, but also on its reputation to lure new customers and keep existing ones. In order to promote their clients, public relations specialists develop and maintain connections with the outside world: the media, the government, and other people in the industry. They write press releases about what's going on with their client, anything which may be considered newsworthy, and distribute the information among their network.

Often, information in a press release will become the basis for a news story or some other form of public attention. This is called publicity, and differs from marketing in that the client does not pay money to get this coverage; the public pays attention because it wants to. And sometimes, the public pays attention in a way that does not benefit the client — hence the term "bad publicity."

To accomplish all this, professionals in the public relations field carry out a wide variety of tasks. In addition to researching and writing press releases, they may set up press conferences or other presentations for the public and the media. They may have to speak to the audience themselves or develop talking points for leaders and/or public figures.

What is the average salary for someone who works in public relations?

The salaries for public relations specialists, are likely to vary from area to area, but, according to the BLS, public relation specialists made a median pay of $55,680 per year in 2014. [i]

Job Outlook for Public Relations Industry

As businesses and other entities credit more of their success to good public relations, the job field continues to grow. Although the employment of public relations specialists is expected to grow 6% in the next ten years[i] the competition may be high as more and more professionals are attracted to the field.

To compete successfully for the limited number of entry-level positions available, a candidate may want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business. 

Internships may also provide a candidate great training and experience, not to mention a much stronger résumé. Many colleges will help students find such opportunities to apply and expand their skills.

[i] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm