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Tim McIntyre (EMU ’85), vice president-corporate communications, Domino’s Pizza, receives the 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award from Lolita Cummings Hendrix, public relations professor, at the English department annual student awards reception.

Academic Service-Learning Division Director and Communication Professor Kathy Stacey (left) and Public Relations Professor Melissa Motschall (right) present Carly Ferch (center), 2006 public relations graduate, with the first Outstanding Academic-Service Learning Student Award for her efforts to increase awareness of the City of Ypsilanti Intergenerational Project.

Public Relations

“Exactly what is public relations?” It’s a question that’s often asked by students considering the major. It sounds cool, they think they can do it, but they’re just not quite sure what it is.

“I like to work with people,” they might say, and, indeed, public relations is about working with and building relationships with people. However, what does that involve? EMU’s Public Relations Program, as well as the Public Relations Society of America, like to think of public relations as the following:

Public relations is a management function that requires two-way communication and a conscious, deliberate effort to develop and maintain healthy relationships with an organization and its numerous publics.

Large and small organizations have public relations functions today, including automotive, manufacturing, healthcare, nonprofit, government, education, sports, entertainment and many others.

“What do PR people do?” As a public relations professional, you are the voice of an organization – the primary producer and disseminator of messages. On any given day, you might write a press release, talk to a reporter, work with a graphic designer to produce a brochure, draft a speech for a company executive or edit the company newsletter. If you’re considering a major or career in public relations, be ready to write – and be ready to write well. While it’s true that public relations professionals may spend some time in front of the cameras, far more time is devoted to the creation of crisp, clear and well-written messages. News releases, newsletters, feature articles, speeches and proposals are just a few types of PR communications you will write if you enter this profession.

“What skills do I need?” In addition to strong written communication skills, you also must have effective presentation skills; research, organization, critical thinking and interpersonal skills; solid knowledge of the public relations field, business and the media; and strong ethics codes that you abide by.

Check out the EMU Interdisciplinary Program in Public Relations to see if a career in public relations is right for you!


Credits: PR students developed much of the text for the home page of this Web site. Particular thanks go to: Lisa Donovan, Emily Vincent and Michael Munie.