Public Relations Major

The public relations major at Westminster College follows the Public Relations Society of America's recommendations for undergraduate study. These guidelines emphasize the inherent connection between strategy and tactics, theory and practice. In keeping with these guidelines, Westminster College public relations majors are educated and tested in the classroom as well as the field. When such a major is strengthened by the liberal arts environment, as is our own case, it better prepares the students to meet the increasing demand for qualified, well-rounded public relations counselors.

According to the 2006 Report of the Commission on Public Relations Education, "Undergraduate public relations education has been shifting and repositioning itself in step with the practice of public relations... When practitioners aid organizations indeveloping mutually beneficial relationships among diverse publics, organizations thrive." The findings and recommendations of the commission reflect the interdisciplinary nature of public relations and the importance of preparing students for a leadership role in a modern society that demands a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving. Therefore, while our students are thoroughly grounded in the knowledge and skills of public relations and its branches, they are strongly encouraged to minor or double major in a related area that gives context and depth to their core curriculum. In addition, we advise public relations majors to take full advantage of the wide range of electives offered by Westminster College. Our ten-course major covers the "ideal" undergraduate course recommendations of the commission: 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 Campaigns; Supervised Work Experience in Public Relations (Internship); and Directed Electives.

The Commission's recommendations for necessary knowledge include 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
  • Uses of research and forecasting
  • Multicultural and global issues
  • Organizational change and development
  • Management concepts and theories

Students should demonstrate competence in the following skills:

  • 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, and 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 Westminster College public relations faculty constantly strives to meet these guidelines in an effort to offer our students an education that exceeds the needs and demands of a career that is experiencing impressive growth and change as it enters the next century.

Vision Statement

We envision majors who demonstrate increasing intellectual sophistication, not only in their own field of study but also in their ability to synthesize and apply knowledge and skills gained across the disciplines. We envision majors who are strategic thinkers, who can develop researched-based public relations programs and campaigns. We envision professional leaders who always keep the public interest in mind and work to build and maintain healthy relationships with others. And we envision majors who will become excellent public relations counsels and spokespeople, who will use their written and oral communication skills to guide their organizations with a moral compass, providing the ethical vision in times of trouble and success.

Mission Statement

The mission of the public relations program is to prepare students for a multi-faceted, protean profession that draws upon expertise in a variety of disciplines and integrates them with the skills and values of public relations. We recognize that many career titles fall under the umbrella of public relations. Therefore, we seek to make students aware of the wide variety of professional and academic opportunities available and to recognize the increasingly global application of their knowledge and skills. Through a program that builds toward increasingly difficult and complex assignments, including the internship and culminating in the capstone experience, we hope to empower students through their education to have the courage and confidence to become leaders in their professions.

Program Goals

In keeping with our mission, the goals we set for our students are as follows:

  • To make ethical decisions
  • To understand multiple audiences
  • To identify problems and opportunities
  • To listen effectively
  • To speak persuasively
  • To write clearly in a variety of styles
  • To conduct thorough and focused research
  • To develop strategical and tactical skills
  • To carry out extensive work with little supervision
  • To work productively with others
  • To cultivate global awareness
  • To respect cultural, racial, and gender differences
  • To demonstrate confidence with contradictions, complexities, and ambiguities
  • To prepare to be the one, clear voice