In light of the increasing new role of social media in building brand images, traditional education for advertising and journalism students may no longer suffice. New market challenges continually prove too difficult, based on the limitations of classroom learning.
Can educators teach students how to bring different disciplines into a strong, unified base? Will students prove capable of successful public representation?
Baylor Study Reveals General Inadequacies in Education
To answer this question, let’s take a look at the article titled “Gaps in Advertising and Public Relations Education: Perspectives of Agency Leaders,” published in the Journal of Advertising Education. In this piece, Marlene S. Neill and Erin Schauster say new roles in social media brings advertising and public relations closer together.
They state that, “Educators need to address the deficiencies identified in this study and find ways to build these skills and competencies in their courses. In the study, we have provided some specific and practical recommendations on how to do so.” Education bodies can look to this study to chart the way forward.
Steps to Advance the March to Close Gaps in PR Education
Colleges generally don’t do a very good job of comprehending the business world. This includes the common mediums business people used for the greater part of the twentieth century.
Students should practice reading and analyzing investment reports and financial statements. This helps them learn to create familiarity with not just finance, but its application to their own financial situations. Students should also take current events quizzes from business and trade publications. Keeping the ear to the ground strengthens a business person’s sense of reality. This helps them to plot how public actions often plays out in the big world of global business.
Still, financial awareness is useless without the mathematical skills required to read financial data. Business professionals do not need a comprehensive understanding of calculus. But statistics is the mathematics of the social world. In fact, businessmen and accountants have used it since the nineteenth century. Professionals should not put proven tools to waste.
The Future is Social
Online communities represent the contemporary market. This means business students should practice social listening or social media audits. This helps to develop an understanding of the shape of social media, through the use of analytics, since the biggest public relations crises land on social media first.
Advertising students also need to know how to manage public issues with little time. Even insignificant social blunders can create massive consequences. With a lot of practice, even an amateur can make a difference between a PR nightmare and a modest loss.
Sometimes business calls for more strategy, but there’s not always enough time or workforce to do it. PR students should take advertising electives to understand how to pay others to do this task, and when to use them.
Data Basis for the Study in Question
In their study, Neill and her co-author Erin Shauster interviewed twenty-nine executives. They did this to learn what changes PR education must make to fill the growing gap. They interviewed executives from ten states, including Minnesota, Indiana, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Thirteen executives worked in PR agencies. Ten worked in advertising agencies. The last six representatives worked as consultants. As a sample, the executives worked at many places across the states that were studied. This helped to reduce the likelihood of bias.
Public Relations Education Is the Glue to Build a Successful Career
Everyone should know the merits of skills like writing and presentation. We watch it on Netflix in shows like Mad Men for entertainment. But the social media gap has reduced the traditional value for the modern professional. These traditional skills often prove too hard for advertising and PR professionals to master. This then creates a gap in knowledge, and hurts the effective management of professional life.
Additionally, new graduates have problems using math and business skills to understand financial documents. This includes understanding the relation-based nature of business challenges, applying business vocabulary, and budgeting.
The professors also suggest students study more subjects in order to resolve these issues. Classes in online community management, social media analytics, social listening, native advertising, programmatic buying, and content amplification help students to leave schools as more well-rounded professionals.
Finally, the two assistant professors concluded “that as public relations executives begin pursuing more paid online media strategies, they may need additional training in media planning and buying, particularly in the areas of programmatic buying, search engine optimization and search engine marketing…[l]likewise, as advertising executives assume online community management roles, they may need additional training in issues and crisis management.”