School of Humanities & Behavioral Science
Public relations strategically builds and maintains relationships with anyone important to an organization by communicating ethical and consistent messages. During AU’s course preparation in public relations, students learn foundations, feature and digital writing, campaigns, research, ethics, social media, and event planning with a focus on faith and hands-on experiences.
While enrolled, they learn about the professional practice of public relations and develop a minimum of 10 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:
- Public relations
- Major in public relations with a concentration in event planning
- Major in public relations with a concentration in social media
According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSSA), the field will see a 60% increase in hiring. Likewise, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an above average hiring pace by 2026. In 2020, AU’s PRSSA Chapter received the national Pacesetter Award.
Because the field is redefining itself through new technology, there is a 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 focuses on strategic brand reputation and credibility, giving students the opportunity to communicate to 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
The PR program sets students up for success in a future career by providing real-world opportunities before graduation, including working on projects with real clients. Aside from helping me build an awesome portfolio, one of these client assignments ended in an internship offer, rounding out my practical experience even further.
Caroline States ’21
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
- 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
What courses will I take?
Among the classes in the 52-hour major are:
- Public Relations:
- Event Planning and Management
- Global Communication
- Communicating through Social Media
In 2019, 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:
- Children of Promise
- Eiteljorg Museum
- Indianapolis Colts
- Indiana Pacers
- Indianapolis Motor Speedway
- Kalitta Motorsports
- St. Vincent Hospital Foundation
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
- The U.S. Attorney’s Office
- Town of Pendleton
- United Way
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
- media relations manager
- program coordinator
- events coordinator
- 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 Europe 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.
- Public Relations
Stefanie Leiter graduated from Anderson University with a B.A. in mass communications and a specialization in public relations. In 2016, she graduated with her Master of Science in Communication from Purdue University and received a graduate certificate in strategic communications in 2015.
In her previous role as director of content strategy and public relations, Stefanie was responsible for leading the content team that manages the AU website, institutional and admissions social media platforms, copy for all communication and marketing deliverables, and outreach materials supporting institutional reputation. In her 12 years in the communication field, she started 14 social media channels for Anderson University and worked through five website redesigns including the responsive AU site redesign in 2016. She served as an adjunct for 2 years before joining full time in the fall of 2017. Stefanie started her PhD in Communication from Regent University in May 2018.
Stefanie is married to Dave and has two young children, Ava and Jackson.
Hear a podcast featuring Stefanie
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Contact Professor Leiter:
Assistant Professor of Public Relations
B.A., Anderson University
M.S.C., Purdue University
A.B.D., Regent University