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Best Elective to Enhance PR Degree: Business

October 22nd, 2011 · 11 Comments

During a Skype conversation Friday afternoon with Professor Carolyn White Bartoo’s students at the University of Delaware, senior PR major Joe Mashek said he was planning his final semester class schedule and wanted to know the one elective course I’d recommend over all others.  Without a second of contemplation, I said he should take the most challenging business course possible.

Too many public relations practitioners today go out of their way to avoid left brain coursework.  Most of the best jobs, however, are in the business world, either in agencies or corporations.  Knowledge of how organizations make money and awareness of business fundamentals are essential if you want to move up the career ladder to positions of leadership. 

Undergraduates who still have an option to pick up a minor should seriously consider business.  Besides solid internships, a business major will dramatically differentiate your resume from stacks of others.

Tags: Advice from a Pro · Future Leaders

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Megan // Oct 22, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Well that’s nice to hear! I’m a PR major, with two minors: -General business and -Advertising and promotion.

    Throughout my last two years, I’ve really enjoyed having a mixture of business and communication classes. They aligned so nicely with each other. When a COM teacher was explaining a business model I already knew it and could even help others understand it better. The same went for my business classes which broadly covered communication theories and methods.

  • 2 Kristin M // Oct 22, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    I got my Bachelors in Business, and am now working on a Masters in Communication with an emphasis in PR. I will be taking a few graduate Marketing classes to round everything out. As Megan said, the two disciplines mesh well together. I find that there’s a lot I can take from my business classes (marketing in particular) that I can use in my communication classes, and vice versa. I feel that once I start applying for PR jobs, my business background will be an asset.

  • 3 Culpwrit // Oct 22, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Megan and Kristin: You are wise to incorporate business knowledge into your academic programs. Your knowledge of business will serve you well in your job searches and careers. Good luck.

  • 4 Caleb Lallement // Oct 23, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    This is such a relief to hear. I am a Public relations major with a minor in Marketing. Too often do we discuss the difference between Public relations and marketing. I hear all the time that mixing the two together is a good idea, but when I look around in my Marketing classes I see one or two PR majors and it somewhat worries me. Did I choose the wrong minor? What would have been a better choice?

  • 5 Culpwrit // Oct 23, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Caleb: Marketing is a good minor and should give you some strong business knowledge to help you in your future job search and job. Stay the course.

  • 6 madison // Oct 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    I am in the same boat as you, Caleb! In my marketing classes my teachers usually look at me like they have no idea why I would be in their classes, but I have found that the two compliment each other nicely.

    Do you think that an emphasis in advertising and promotions is beneficial or should I also try to take a general business elective before I graduate?

  • 7 Culpwrit // Oct 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Madison: If possible, you should try to do both–advertising/promotions and general business. You’ll never regret doing so.

  • 8 Tara Mueller // Oct 26, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    This is so great to hear! I am about to graduate and I am a PR major and have a marketing minor. I feel like the combination between the two is great. I get the communication background and learn how people interact with my PR and learn about the business side of things. I feel like I am earning a valueable well rounded education and that is a comforting feeling from a college grad about to enter the big world.

  • 9 Heather // Oct 26, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    This post is a great inspiration to me. I have a B.S. in Business and Marketing and am now pursuing a Masters in Communication with an emphasis in PR. I have always felt that now matter your passion, is that having a business background can always be helpful. I’m glad to read encouraging words about combining public relations and business and how they can be an asset to someone.

  • 10 Molly // Oct 26, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    I received this advice in high school when I was job shadowing in the communication field, to incorporate business into public relations/communication. I was told you will be seen more valuable and people will give you the respect you deserve if you can talk and think business. After hearing this advice, I decided to major in Public Relations with a double minor in General Business and Advertising Promotion. I don’t regret my choice at all and after reading your advice I’m even happier this is the path I chose.

    I have found throughout my courses that the public relations and marketing/advertising classes tie in very nicely, and the general business classes are a good add on. Through my business classes I have learned about management, financial accounting, business law and much more that I feel is going to greatly benefit me. This general knowledge about the business world I would have never learned through my communication or advertising degree.

  • 11 Salama Ayad // Oct 31, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    This post was really interesting because I thought an advertising or a marketing degree would the most suitable major to consider doubling up on for a public relations major. Marketing is usually taught in business schools, but I don’t think that is the business major being recommended here. What this article is suggesting is to go after the business classes that help you break down the numbers, which makes a great deal of sense. Public relation practitioners generally have a weak perception of how markets work, and to have a better understanding of peoples’ reactions, we have to understand the factors that cause them to behave certain ways.

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