Bournemouth University

The Media School

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PR courses receive European recognition

06 December 2010

Professor Tom Watson

BU PR courses are recognised in ’Comunications Director’ magazine.

Public Relations courses at Bournemouth University’s Media School have been recognised by ‘Communications Director’, the magazine of the European Association of Communication Directors (EACD).

In an article on the education and training of senior corporate communicators, BU’s PR courses are the sole representative of academic studies in this Europe-wide report, which includes commentators from Belgium, Poland and France.

Professor Tom Watson, who is widely quoted in the report, said that university education in public relations and corporate communications is running ahead of current practice. There is a strong emphasis on social media, ethics and ethical communication, corporate social responsibility and other important topics.

“Taking the long-established BA (Hons) Public Relations at Bournemouth University as an example, all these topics are taught, along with core skills like writing and visual communications for public relations, integration of PR with advertising and marcoms,” he said.

“We also teach consumer and audience psychology, PR strategy and tactics, reputation and issues management and a wide range of options including political communication and marketing PR. The students also learn about business and management from first year onwards.

“As this course has been running for 21 years, with some changes over time, there is a large group of younger PR practitioners and corporate communicators already prepared for these and other complex issues.”

Professor Watson said that the future corporate communicators and senior PR practitioners will all enter with a first degree and continue their studies with masters and doctoral studies as ‘life-long learners’.

“World-wide, the business of PR and corporate communications has become graduate entry and, increasingly, there is an emphasis on postgraduate education in communication strategy and management skills,” he said.

 “There are still many senior practitioners with a journalism background but the trend is away from this route. I see that future senior communicators will start with a first degree in PR and communication and, in the early to middle period of their working life, undertake a Masters/MBA or Professional Doctorate that moves them into a higher level of analysis and offers them the potential to advise at Board level.”

Professor Watson’s research for the Institute of Public Relations on the future senior corporate communicator found that education and training in management and familiarity with the width of organisation’s operations will be essential in order that corporate communicators make an effective impact.

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