A First Look: An In-depth Analysis of Global Public Relations Education

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Public relations, now a global profession, has long merited research to document how it is being taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels in countries around the world. “Analysis of Global Public Relations – Curriculum and Instructors” is that study.

Building on valuable earlier studies, our analysis broadened the geographic scope of study and stressed in-depth qualitative discourse as a basis for its conclusions. The first phase of the study was an analysis of the web sites of 218 educational institutions in 39 countries on five continents (Appendix Table 1). Based on this array of data, researchers engaged in in-depth interviews with public relations educators in 20 of the countries (See Key Questions in the Introduction, page 5).The emerging narratives and details provided valuable insights as to how and why public relations education is generally based on several universals and yet is often combined with local variations.*

The key findings of this study are:

  1. Public relations is generally defined as a strategic function for building and maintaining relationships.
  2. Undergraduate programs are basically designed to prepare future practitioners.
  3. Curriculum frequently reflects the five-course standard suggested in the Commission of Public Relations Educations 2006 report, “The Professional Bond.”
  4. However, important cultural distinctions are often embedded within programs.
  5. Barriers to development of “the ideal public relations program” include resources, government, country culture, program structure, and inadequate or ineffective relationships with practicing professionals.
  6. Graduate programs emphasize advanced theory and strategic thinking.
    Researchers also found “moderate” influence by U.S. and European educational standards in other parts of the world.

As a comprehensive recommendation based on the interviews, the researchers suggest the development of a virtual compendium of best practices in public relations education with continuous contributions from educators around the world. This electronic “Public Relations Education Development Depository” (PREDD), could be a valuable reference resource for case studies, test banks, uploaded interviews with professionals and other sources, campaigns and recommended and rated textbooks.