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Should you get a public relations degree if you want to work in the PR industry? Depending on who you talk to the responses will differ. For some PR pros, they believe in the impact a degree can have especially when they consider the success they’ve had in the industry. For others, a career change landed them in PR and they were able to easily learn the ins and outs of a growing sector with ease.
Regardless, if you are considering a career in PR then this post will outline insights from other current PR professionals about their thoughts on the importance of a degree when working in the PR industry.
Out of 186 votes, a staggering 48% of respondents said, “No, a PR degree is not worth it.” The other 28% said, “Yes, a PR degree is worth it,” and the remaining 23% were impartial to it. Read below for the responses from a select number of PR professionals to see what they had to say.
Is a degree in PR worth it? #prrequest
— 🤙 Jered Martin 🤙 (@JmoMonk) April 13, 2021
Frank Strong, founder and president of Sword and Script, he says:
I don’t think you need a degree in PR to work in PR. For example, a business degree can serve one well.
— Frank Strong 🤘🏻✒️🗡 (@Frank_Strong) April 13, 2021
Frank makes an interesting point and personally I’ve spoken with many other professionals who didn’t study PR but are still thriving. Although there are not direct correlations between business and PR that you might see on the surface it can benefit you when it comes time to manage clients or even run a PR business of your own.
Diana Kozak also mirrors Frank’s point above:
Not necessary, but helpful! Business or journalism degrees are also an option.
— Diana Kozak (@DianaKozakPR) April 13, 2021
Jared Meade, MPS, APR, CMPRCA, says:
I have an undergraduate and graduate degree in #PR and I definitely think they were worth it. However, I know many exceptional practitioners who don’t have a degree.
— Jared Meade, MPS, APR, CMPRCA (@Meadepr) April 20, 2021
For Jared, he started studying PR early on in his career and continued building his expertise academically and professionally. He is an accredited PR professional and has a master’s degree in strategic public relations, however, even he acknowledges that other professionals he knows are doing well without a degree.
Bob Batchelor, a former professor for 16 years and current PR professional, says:
There weren’t many #PR degrees available when I was in school — #GenXer, so got into profession b/c I could #write and #think critically. Today, serious students do well in PR, but too many coast w/o attempting to learn the #history & #context of the profession (16 years a prof)
— Bob Batchelor (@BobPBatchelor) April 13, 2021
His point is well worth noting for students and new PR professionals just starting their careers. I’m also a history buff myself and always felt as thought knowing what came before would help me to understand where we are now. Secondly, and most importantly, being a good writer and critical thinker, as Bob says, is a vital skill for ALL public relations professionals. You are constantly adapting, thinking on your feet, and literally writing!
For Sarah Graham, Account Executive at DPA, she feel this way:
Yes, worth it. I hear a lot of PR pro’s say otherwise but I always think, would I have been hired without it? Definitely not.
— Sarah Graham (@SarahGrahamPR) April 13, 2021
I can’t help but relate to Sarah from my personal experience entering the workforce. I was able to land my first job off one class I took in college and never thought I’d stand a chance without academic backing.
Demi Kriss, now a writer, studied PR and communications. Here’s what she had to say:
A degree in PR is beneficial but workforce experience via internships, etc is imperative. My degrees are in Communication and Journalism but all my experience was working in PR firms. You find that a lot of PR pro’s come from different starter career paths and filter in.
— demi kriss (@krissology_) April 13, 2021
Internships are a great way to learn on the job experience and suss out whether or not a position or role is right for you. At OnePitch, we’ve worked with dozens of interns over the years and some of them have gone on to work in PR as well as other industries. You can only learn so much in school and the benefit of direct experience has lasting implications.
Callum Taylor, a current PR intern, says:
I think it depends on how you look at it, so yes and no. I studied BA English Language and MA CCMPR. I feel like I could do my current role without the latter, and I would be in a better place financially. However, I do think it benefited me personally, gave me a (1/2)
— Callum Taylor (@CallumTaylorPR) April 13, 2021
He brings up a great question to ask, is it worth it personally and/or financially? School isn’t inexpensive and can be a huge time commitment but the lessons you learn can be instrumental for you as an individual.
Lastly, Chloe Louise Maxwell, a Junior Digital PR Executive, says:
I think a degree in PR (I have an MSc from LJMU) is helpful if A) you want to learn the history and context of PR and/or B) you want to go into ‘traditional’ PR! I’ve found a lot of areas of DigItal PR get lumped in with SEO or Digital Marketing modules
— Chloe Louise Maxwell (@ChloeMaxwellPR) April 13, 2021
In today’s environment, PR is moving as quickly as the news does and the things they teach in school may be behind once you’re settled into a career. However, you can also get ahead on your own and learn valuable skills like SEO from online resources such as Moz or SEMrush.
If you’re thinking of working in PR, whether you’re still in school or considering a career change, think about these pros and cons as you navigate through your decision process. And, if you want to know more about what to expect, read this post for advice on entering the industry.
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