Bringing public relations experience into the classroom is a subject that’s dear to my heart — not only because I’m a field-professional-turned-educator myself, but also because I see every day the tremendous contributions that professionals and educators can make when they work together as partners.
Practitioners and educators share responsibility for making this relationship work. As practitioners, we must understand that, while our experiences are valued and welcomed, effective PR education is about more than simply bringing a string of “war stories” into the classroom. Those experiences must be firmly anchored to good communications practice and theory. Students must be taught to think critically about these experiences, or they’ll never be able to use them to create their own effective communications plans and strategies rather than simply replicate someone else’s.
We educators, on the other hand, must embrace and leverage the fact that our professional colleagues command a unique position of credibility and authenticity with our students. This is even true of former students who graduated only a few years ago and return to visit our campuses. They, after all, are the PR graduates who landed the jobs and work in the trenches every single day. While I hope that many of today’s best and brightest PR students will consider careers as educators, far more of them are likely to follow in the steps of our professional colleagues than in our own. And no one is better qualified than professionals to teach public relations students what will be expected of them in the workplace.
On the panel, co-sponsored by the College of Fellows and the Educational Affairs Committee, I’ll join some expert fellow panelists — Bob Pritchard and Jeannette Drake. I’ll discuss some of the steps to successfully translating PR experience to the classroom:
- “This is what happened … but why?” Tying your field experience to public relations theory and strategy.
- “Here’s what I did — what would you do?” Nurturing critical thinking in public relations students.
- “Curriculum-deep collaboration” — Designing classroom experiences that leverage the best of both worlds to achieve learning objectives.
By Susan Walton, M.A., APR, associate chair, Department of Communications, and associate professor, Communications, Brigham Young University. She has also held communications management positions at various Fortune 500 companies. Connect with Susan on LinkedIn.
Join Susan, along with Bob “Pritch” Pritchard, APR, Fellow PRSA, and Jeanette Drake, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, for the co-presentation, “More PR Students, Not Enough Faculty: Learn How to Translate Your PR Experience to the Classroom,” on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010, 11 a.m.–12 p.m., PRSA 2010 International Conference: Powering PRogress, Oct. 16–19 in Washington, D.C.!
For more coverage on the PRSA 2010 International Conference: Powering PRogress, visit PRSA Intelligence, follow #prsa_ic and the Conference blog.