In the fast-paced world of marketing communications and media, it’s increasingly necessary to have well-trained public relations professionals present within the marketing communications teams of all industries.
From crisis communication to social media management, there are countless specializations for public relations professionals to take on in their career and education. For professionals interested in advancing their skillset and becoming a driver of industry trends, the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) graduate program specialization in Public Relations Leadership can provide the knowledge applicable to reaching the highest potential.
West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media offers an Area of Emphasis (AOE) in Public Relations Leadership, existing within the larger framework of the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) graduate program. By pursuing a specialization like Public Relations Leadership along with your graduate degree in IMC, you are positioning yourself as a T-shaped marketer, which makes you much more valuable given your combination of specialized and general training in marketing communications theory.
Watch the short video below to hear from two faculty members who teach courses within the Public Relations Leadership AOE, Frank Marra and Marty Machowsky.
Now that you've heard from thought leaders at WVU, let’s dive into some of the many career options for professionals who have studied marketing communications from a PR perspective.
1. Director of Media Relations
This position is directly responsible for communications with media, via cultivating relationships with media reps, press releases, media kits, articles, and many other communications initiatives. It’s about being a strong spokesperson for the firm and managing all information and relationships related to the firm’s visibility. You can expect to be responsible for organizing press events, building press kits, managing media rep relationships, and much more.
2. CEO of PR Agency
As the CEO of a PR agency, you will be responsible for providing the vision for the business and serving as a spokesperson for the agency. Since a PR agency is responsible for media relations, communications, strategy, crisis communication, and more, the CEO will work closely with clients in a variety of fields. This role requires a strategic mind and big-picture thinking. If you're passionate about public relations and you love rising to the challenges that come with leading a team of diverse individuals, this might be the right fit for you.
3. Public Relations Specialist
People in this role are advocates who work on behalf of their clients — often non-profits, businesses, hospitals, and universities — in order to maintain and build strong community and media relationships. PR specialists may also be responsible for representing employers in a variety of public settings.
4. Corporate Communications Specialist
This career is geared towards the internal (and external) communications of a corporation. This could include everything from emails, newsletters, and flyers to internal messaging, direct mail, and brochures. Additionally, this job entails creating email campaigns, promotional materials, and coordinating the groups involved in the output of these marketing outreaches. It could involve direct relationships with C-suite leadership and marketing managers, and influences the entire culture and content related to communications within an organization.
A speechwriter develops and writes speeches, briefs, and communications for executives and translates the C-suite's (or organization's) philosophy, ideas, and messages for a variety of audiences, needs, and situations. Typically a speechwriter edits and prepares other types of written communications and may help with speech delivery preparation. This work is complex and often includes independent work.
6. Public Affairs Manager
Individuals in this role actively manage the communications strategy of a firm: setting the tone, developing plans, and implementing these strategies to create a streamlined communication process. The PA manager thinks holistically about all the marketing and individual components of content, media relationships, and development to ensure that the overarching goals and philosophy are being conveyed regarding the firm’s public persona and brand.
7. Media Director
The role of a Media Director is to oversee and manage the media-related activities that contribute to how a company, or firm, is perceived and promoted to the general public. They often work in advertising agencies and have a variety of clients from all different fields. Some big companies have their own in-house media directors. The focus of this role is always on which media — from traditional print marketing to digital and social media — will be best for communicating campaigns and increasing general public interest in the firm.
8. Marketing Communications Manager
These managers implement, create, and oversee communication programs, and manage the staff involved in said programs. They are responsible for making strategic decisions regarding branding (graphics and logos), fact sheets, and much more. They may also oversee some of the other specialized positions described above, including speech writers, media specialists, and PR specialists. This is a true PR leadership role in action.
How do you get the Public Relations Leadership AOE?
Adding an AOE only adds one class to your IMC coursework, since the other three classes count for your three required electives. The four courses you'll be required to take in order to obtain the Public Relations Leadership AOE are Crisis Communication, Applied Public Relations, Internal Brand Communication, and Executive Communication and Leadership.
With the AOE stamp of approval on your transcript, employers know they are talking to a person with experience and knowledge of key strategy and tactics that can help them immediately improve their ability to plan for and respond to communications crises or opportunities that arise.
Are you ready to join the IMC community?
WVU's Integrated Marketing Communications graduate program is designed with your success in mind. The IMC is the first online program of its kind, and was launched by the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University in 2003. One hallmark of the WVU IMC program is its learn-it-today, use-it-tomorrow philosophy. This philosophy is built into the curriculum and teaches students the importance of applying the best strategies and tactics in reaching key audiences.
If you're interested in learning more about pursuing the IMC degree at WVU as well as the AOE in Public Relations Leadership, we encourage you to request more information today!