Iowa State’s Newest Major: Public Relations

Public relations has proved to be one of the industry’s fastest growing careers. It is one of the highest paid careers in communication with an average of $28 an hour. By 2020, public relations specialists’ employment should increase by 23 percent. Studies show that is a much faster rate than average occupations. With such a demand for a rapidly increasing field of study, Iowa State University publicly announced that they had added public relations as a major on Thursday, August 22, 2013. Students could now earn a Bachelor of Science degree in the expanding field. Iowa State already had an award-winning PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) chapter, earning a National Star Award in 2012. The team, led by advisor Erin Wilgenbusch, met eight out of ten criteria for overall excellence. I spoke with Erin WIlgenbusch after her Journalism and Mass Communications class, Intro to Public Relations class and asked her for a little more information.

HC: About how many students have added public relations as a major?

Erin: On Tuesday alone we had 70 add and 12 to 15 took an add slip. They have to talk to advisors in another area about adding.

HC: Who brought up the idea of adding public relations as a major?

Erin: It was a combination of faculty and students. The faculty fought for it for a few years plus the attention from students that were majoring in journalism and mass communications with an emphasis in public relations. The priority wasn’t high but we worked for it.

HC: What are some different job areas a public relations major will now be more suited for?

Erin: There is no “new” job areas but in places where companies were looking for a communications specialist, they realize that public relations is a program on its own and are now asking for people with a public relations background.

HC: What are some traits that prospective students should have if they are considering changing to or adding public relations as a major?

Erin: They would need to be a good writer. That’s probably the most important. They would need to be good strategic thinkers and also be able to pull diverse groups together.

Now that you have a little more information on what the public relations major is like. If you have more questions or are considering adding it, feel free to contact the Greenlee School at 515-294-4341 or visit http://www.jlmc.iastate.edu.

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