When I attended the PRSA Delegate Assembly in Salt Lake City (Ski Utah!) last month, I picked up research from the Commission on Public Relations Education about teaching the next generation of public relations professionals.


I was quite interested in the study because, as a boutique PR firm, we receive a minimum of 10 job inquiries every day.  Job inquiries that come through our “contact us” email on the Web site and typically say something such as, “I’m wondering if you have any job openings.”  Or (my favorite), “I think I can contribut to your pubic relations firm.” Yes, two misspellings in one sentence is going to get a response from us.  And it happens quite a bit.


I wanted to see what the report said about teaching kids how to find a job.  And once they found that job, what did the report say about how to keep that job?  Did it say anything about teaching ethics in PR? 


I was intrigued. 


The report, a consensus of 35 practitioners and educators representing 12 communications professional societies, says, in effect, “Look carefully at what today’s public relations college students are exposed to in their curriculum and in their supervised experience (internships). Look at the breadth and depth of that preparation. Then keep that in mind whenever you’re hiring at the entry level.”


It turns out the report sets a standard:


A minimum of five courses should be required in the public relations major —introduction (theory, origin and principles); research, measurement and evaluation; writing and production; supervised work experience; and a course in law and ethics, planning and management, case studies or campaigns. For graduate study, the report highly recommends that students have prior experience in the field.


So ethics is included, but nothing about finding and keeping a job.  And it’s been my experience that a good portion of new college graduates slept through their ethics classes. 


I’d like to challenge all intern coordinators and employers to work with the university of their choice to make certain the next generation of PR professionals really learn what will make them successful, and ethical, throughout their careers.