‘Making the Leap’ and the Importance of PR Education

The cast of 'St. Elmo's Fire' in their caps and gowns.

Mary Elin Arch was laid off from The Richmond Times-Dispatch and decided to become a publicist. Sounds like the path taken by many journalists. However, the New York Times took a closer look at Arch’s journey to “the other side” and shows how a stop at Virginia Commonwealth University helped her reach her destination.

According to the story, now that PR has that oft-discussed “seat at the table,” those at the higher levels of the profession need knowledge of business as well as communications.

“To avoid being limited to pitching stories about clients or writing the company newsletter, a public relations employee needs to understand business, finance, marketing, strategic planning and research — the language of corporate America and the company boardroom, where the P.R. head is now likely to report to the chief executive,” the story reads. “That understanding doesn’t have to come from formal education, but it is the stuff of most P.R. master’s curriculums.”

The story goes on to say that there are 20,000 students currently enrolled in university-level  PR education programs.

Arch is now the publicist for a toll road in Virginia.

Has your outlook on PR education changed in recent years? Share your insights in the comments.