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“Top Ten” Intriguing Findings from the Commission on Public Relations Education’s (CPRE) Public Relations Industry-Educator Summit

NEW YORK (June 11, 2015) —

Below are the Top Ten headline findings from the May 12th Summit in which you participated. A more detailed report will soon be shared — probably by mid-to-late June.

  1. Industry leaders and educators have much in common and share great enthusiasm. We are not, in Elizabeth Toth’s words, “Mars and Venus,” but have shared goals — developing talented people for our profession — and shared concerns — the profession is changing so quickly, it’s difficult for all of us to keep up.
  2. Bringing together educators and industry leaders is essential and needs to be ongoing — one Summit is one slice in time. Also, we need to broaden involvement to include professionals from other sectors, such as not-for-profit, smaller agencies and businesses, government, counseling.
  3. Misperceptions exist (no one is teaching a class in Press Kits, and no matter what’s been claimed, industry leaders believe writing STILL is an essential skill).
  4. Undergraduate public relations education is not day-after-day in the public relations classroom. Students spend two-thirds of their time being educated in the liberal arts, and in related courses from marketing to organizational development — plus dozens of hours in internships, campus leadership, PRSSA and more. The result is graduates who are both well-rounded, and well-grounded in public relations.
  5. The hierarchy of higher education is complex, and educators can do a better job of helping industry understand the nuances of accreditation, recommended core coursework, certification, etc.
  6. The needs of industry are complex and there’s no one-size-fits-all. Some say “just teach them the core things and we’ll do on-the-job training ourselves.” While others don’t have the training resources, and need entry-level people ready to dig in on day one.
  7. It’s clear that the undergraduate degree is just one step, part of a continuum that will include learning-by-doing and professional development work (from webinars to individual accreditation to graduate work).
  8. Despite a list of desired knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) that is so long it could fill up a curriculum and then some, there is general consensus on what’s core, what’s a competency, what’s a personal characteristic, to form the basis for CPRE’s next report on undergraduate curriculum guidelines and recommendations to educators.
  9. While universities don’t allow programs and majors to be turned on a dime, feedback from industry is vital in terms of adapting existing courses, adding resources, changing methods.
  10. Educators on campuses across the country need support from industry — speakers, opportunities for students, support for scholarships, and more.