School of Humanities & Behavioral Science

Public Relations

Public relations strategically builds and maintains relationships with anyone important to an organization. This is done by communicating ethical and consistent messages, and Anderson University offers a unique experience for students due to its faith focus and emphasis on hands-on learning.

While enrolled, they learn about the professional practice of public relations and develop a minimum of 16 pieces of work for their portfolio by the time they graduate. Students have three track options to choose from as well as an option to complete the program in three or four years. Track options include:

  1. public relations
  2. major in public relations with a concentration in event planning
  3. major in public relations with a concentration in social media

According to the Public Relations Society of America, the field will see a 60% increase in hiring. Likewise, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an above average hiring pace by 2026.

Because the field is redefining itself through new technology, there is high demand for well-prepared professionals. Anderson University’s program offers a strong ethical foundation in Christ-centered communication positions and therefore cultivates graduates who will not only find jobs upon graduation but lead the field in the decades to come.

PR vs. Marketing

If you are asking yourself, “Do I want to study public relations or marketing?” you are not alone. These two majors lead to similar careers with public relations having a broader focus and marketing using a more direct approach.

Public relations uses objective and trustworthy two-way communication to earn unbiased support, often without the use of paid advertising. It creates broad support for an organization or initiative by focusing on trust and relationships. Marketing is similarly focused on gaining support but is more specific in its efforts. Marketing professionals use pricing, distribution, and promotion to create brand awareness for a specific product or service.

Together, public relations and marketing work to encourage customer loyalty and company support. When combined, they comprehensively tell the brand’s story while maintaining credibility and a strong reputation.

PR vs. Communication

Once you understand the differences between the fields of public relations and marketing and how they successfully work together, it is important to understand the study of communication. Communication is a broad field and includes written, verbal, and nonverbal expression.

A public relations degree offers focus to this wider discipline by focusing on strategic brand reputation and credibility. This degree gives students the opportunity to communicate with a focus on a specific industry (i.e. healthcare, sports, fundraising, nonprofit, corporate, crisis, etc.). A degree in public relations enhances your resume and makes you more marketable because it develops your skills in storytelling, message distribution strategy, and brand awareness.

Hear a podcast about our Public Relations Student Society of America chapter

Your AU Story Begins Now

During the fall of my senior year, I was able to complete an internship at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Because of classes like PR Foundations and the Fifth Street Communications pr agency, I was confident in my writing skills going in. While my experiences in the classroom helped me to be prepared for my internship, the internship really allowed me to strengthen my writing and other PR skills. It also gave me a chance to get to know the Indianapolis area a bit more fully!

Christina Nesslage BA ’18

Public Relations and Christian Ministries Complementary Major

 

I credit the education I received at Anderson University for helping me develop the roots to establish a successful career in public relations and marketing. I walked away with the foundational knowledge and tools I needed to take off quickly – strong core skills in writing, practical experiences with real businesses to extend what I learned in the classroom and the confidence to let my natural curiosity and creativity lead the way.

Rachel Faulkner BA ’00

Director of Public Relations, Genesys

AU is the connection to my past, present, and future. I learned so much while I was there – about myself, about people, and about what I wanted out of a career. And it’s because of an AU connection that I found my job at Fishhook. That job has turned into a calling to a mission that I hope to be part of for a very long time.

Aimee Cottle BA ’12

Director of Marketing, Fishhook

Program Options

Program Options

  • Public relations major
  • Major in Public relations with an event planning concentration
  • Major in Public relations with a social media concentration
  • There is also an optional 3-year degree track
  • 18-hour minor in public relations

The liberal arts program at AU graduates students with not only interpersonal soft skills the workplace is seeking but also prepares students with the hard skills needed in the PR field.

  • Strong written communication skills
  • Project management with clients
  • Media relations exposure
  • Event planning experiences
  • Campaign strategy, planning, and implementation of knowledge
  • Social media and website analytics training
  • Public speaking and presentation practice
Classes

What courses will I take?

Among the classes in the 52-hour major are:

  • Public Relations:
    • Foundations
    • Campaigns
    • Writing
    • Research
  • Event Planning and Management
  • Global Communication

View the complete curriculum.

Internship Opportunities

In 2018, 100% of Anderson University public relations graduates found employment in the field or started graduate school. Because we understand how important it is to enter the job market right after graduation, we pave the way to a first job in the field of public relations with strong internship opportunities. Some of these companies and organizations are within in the county and others are in our neighboring communities of Fishers and Indianapolis:

  • BLASTmedia
  • Children of Promise
  • Dallara
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway
  • Kalitta Motorsports
  • Media Fuel
  • St. Vincent Hospital Foundation
  • The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
  • The U.S. Attorney’s Office
  • Town of Pendleton
  • United Way
Careers

What kind of jobs can I anticipate after graduation?

PR professionals can use their skills generally, or they can specialize in almost any area or context. This includes working in a PR staff within a single organization as well as in agency settings to serve a variety of companies. Common job titles in the field of public relations include:

  • communication specialist
  • content manager
  • internal communications coordinator
  • fundraising specialist
  • social media manager
  • copywriter
  • media relations manager
  • program coordinator
  • events coordinator
Experience
  • As a public relations major, you’ll work with Fifth Street Communications®, the department’s student-staffed PR agency. At the agency, paid student account executives lead teams that do strategic planning, copywriting, social media analysis, media relations, and event planning. In these roles, you will have opportunities to create and publish portfolio-quality work. 
  • You will also complete an internship for credit, and you will be active in the Department’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. PRSSA gives you a chance to attend Half Day with a Pro, speed networking, and luncheons through the Hoosier Indiana Chapter. On campus, students also have the opportunity to participate in a Lunch+Learn series that brings in professionals from around the state to network and teach.
  • Every two years, the Global Communication course travels through Tri-S to London for students to fully immerse themselves in the course material and also the culture of another country.
  • Anderson University offers an optional Certificate in Principles of Public Relations through the Public Relations Society of America. This certification is valuable because it gives our graduates’ resumes an advantage among the pack of applicants in the job market.

Our Faculty

Stefanie Leiter

Stefanie Leiter