Public relations is one of the fastest-growing fields for college graduates to enter; the U.S. Department of Labor states in a recent report that “employment of public relations specialists is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through 2014.”
To successfully launch yourself into this expanding career field, you need to combine a degree in public relations, or another communications-related field such as journalism, with a public relations internship. As a public relations student at Biola, you’ll have access to hands-on opportunities on campus in order to prepare you for internships in the industry, which are required prior to graduation.
With an emphasis in public relations, you’ll learn how to understand audiences and convey messages through a wide range of media. You’ll learn the techniques of both feature and news writing, and study how to use photos, graphics, audio and video messages and strategic Web sites to improve communication between people and organizations. After taking a core of journalism courses, you’ll be able to choose electives that give you the skills needed to do the market research, writing and visual design that you’ll need going into the field, whether for corporate, non-profit or government agencies, or ministry organizations. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn public relations from a Christian perspective, seeing how biblical principles such as honesty and integrity are crucial in the industry.
One of the skills identified by professional PR practitioners as most important for prospective public relations employees—and the skill they commonly identify as the most lacking in recent college graduates—is the ability to write. Biola places the public relations degree within the journalism department to demonstrate its commitment to challenging you to hone your writing skills. Besides this, you’ll also have the opportunity to work with campus media—The Chimes newspaper, The Point magazine, and the TV news program, EagleVision—giving you insight into the world of media that you’ll one day be working with.
In PR practicums, you’ll have the opportunity to take much of the leadership in planning campus events, getting experience in many aspects of PR such as targeting audiences, writing copy for promotional materials, deciding upon and using appropriate message channels, working with a budget, and, when it’s all over, evaluating your success. More opportunities come in classes such as Public Relations Campaigns & Cases, in which some Biola PR students assisted with the Chronicles of Narnia promotional campaign in the fall of 2005.
The Biola chapter of PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) is another great way to start breaking into the world of PR. Through PRSSA, members enjoy unique opportunities to learn from and network with professionals in the field, gain leadership experience, and even meet other PR students from all over the United States at yearly conferences. PRSSA provides valuable preparation for entering the professional world, and it’s an excellent way to round out Biola’s public relations emphasis.