Public Relations: Bridging the Gap between Professionals and Academics

Public Relations Bridging the Gap between Professionals and Academics

For many years, educators teamed students with businesses and professionals in order to bridge the gap between education and real life work experience. This took the form of volunteer work, internships, apprenticeships, research projects, and even medical residencies. In the past, this was reserved primarily for medical and technical fields, but now PR is receiving its moment in the academic spotlight.

The Penn State Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication made a key decision to fund research projects in the field. The center awards grants to research projects aimed at giving public relations faculty and students the opportunity to work together with professionals, getting real world experience in the industry.

The Research Projects

The six projects funded each focus on a specific topic, but they are all aimed at seeking in depth information about the role of ethics in public relations. Some of the topics include creating shared value, communicating with the public in the wake of a public disaster, the ethics of climate change when dealing with public relations, and millennial views on ethics in PR.

The university committed an impressive $10,000 to each research project. The practitioners expected to participate in the research come from prestigious global PR firms and organizations like Edelman and the Museum of Public Relations.

Online Modules

Aside from the direct research findings, the Center selected and granted funding to a few teaching modules which cover communications and ethics topics. PR and communications experts with years of experience in the field will work on these modules to ensure they are relevant to real world experience across the globe.

Creators will build these specifically for students, but plan to share them with other communication scholars across the globe. Some of the topics the university plans to cover include ethics in decision-making, digital ethics, transparency, public relations writing, and crisis management.

Working with Global Leaders

Working with global leaders not only brings real world experience to the research. It also brings world class knowledge in public relations, which teaches not only how to do PR, but how to do it effectively in order to deliver the best results for top clientele.

The Page Center director, Denise Bortree, said of the decision:

It was important for us to encourage faculty to reach out to practitioners so they could see different perspectives and work together to better understand each other’s needs… We had a great response from researchers all over the world, and I am excited to see the results that emerge from these innovative projects.

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