Master of Arts (MA)
Semester of Degree Completion
The public relations profession is in a constant state of change, and it doesn't have a clear definition. Without having a clear understanding of public relations, it is difficult to know exactly how to prepare college students who aspire to become public relations practitioners for the profession.
Moreover, there is only limited public relations research and literature regarding the required educational preparation and role of entry-level practitioners. Therefore, due to the limited literature, this study was conducted, in general, to learn more about the required educational preparation and role of entry-level PR practitioners and, specifically, to test the following three hypotheses.
H1: Skills of expression, writing and interpersonal communication, will be ranked as the two most required skills for obtaining an entry level PR position and the top two functions most performed by entry-level PR practitioners by both practitioners and educators.
H2: Skills of expression, writing and interpersonal communication, will be ranked as the top two skills to be taught to aspiring entry-level PR practitioners by both practitioners and educators.
H3: Subjects directly teaching skills of personal expression, writing an public speaking, will be ranked as the two most valuable subjects to be taught to aspiring entry-level practitioners by both practitioners and educators.
On a national scale, 200 practitioners and 200 educators were surveyed in four general areas: 1) skill requirements to obtain entry-level PR employment; 2) entry-level PR functions performed; 3) PR skills to be taught in college; and 4) PR-affiliated subjects to be taught in college. Sixty practitioners and 28 educators responded within the given time frame.
Overall, the results clearly indicate writing to be the most important skill requirement, function performed and skill to be taught, and newswriting followed with being the number one subject to be taught.
However. statistically significant differences were still found between educator and practitioner views with regard to 'skill requirements' and 'functions performed' for answers ranked lower than writing.
For skill requirements, practitioners indicated an importance of interpersonal communication with the majority (66%) of practitioners ranking it either first or second. The majority of educators ranked interpersonal communication third or lower creating a statistical difference at the .002 level.
For functions performed, educators and practitioners were found again to have significant differences (.01) in how they ranked the importance of interpersonal communication. Practitioners, more than educators, believe interpersonal communication is more often a function of entry-level practitioners. Only four percent of educators indicated interpersonal communication is the number one function while 29 percent of practitioners believe it is the function most often performed. More educators, seven percent, actually ranked it fifth (or last) rather than first.
Oelke, Kristin Mary, "A Study of Required Educational Preparation and Role of Entry Level Public Relations Practitioners: A National Educator and Practitioner Perspective" (1994). Masters Theses. 2069.