BYU’s public relations students have a story they’re dying to pitch, they’re just not sure if they should.
It’s not sensitive or controversial, and the students definitely have the skills to pitch it; they’re just at a loss for how to do it. PR folks make a living off pitching stories about their clients, but how does a PR program pitch a story about itself?
The story? The international public relations trade magazine PR Week recently named BYU’s public relations program one of the five best PR education programs in the country.
“This recognition affirms something we already suspected, which is that we have a very good PR program,” said Brad Rawlins, chair of BYU’s Department of Communications. “It’s nice to have a third party verification of the quality of the program.”
BYU joins NYU, Howard University, Georgetown and Alabama as finalists for the PR Education Program of the Year award, to be announced March 11 in New York. This honor will be one of 33 awards given annually by PR Week to the best corporate, nonprofit, agency and education PR teams in the country.
A panel of PR industry officials judged the education programs to determine the finalists.
BYU’s public relations curriculum was one of the first to be certified by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), and was recertified for the third time last year. The program includes five full-time faculty and one full-time director of the Bradley Public Relations Agency, a student-run PR firm.
“We have a faculty that is well-known in their respective areas, both nationwide and internationally,” said PR professor Laurie Wilson, former department chair. “In addition, we get some of the best students in the nation and our graduates are placed all over the world.”
BYU’s public relations faculty members work extensively with students in extracurricular activities. A professor and the Bradley Agency director serve as advisers to the local chapter of the national student PR society (PRSSA). The faculty also advise the editorial staff of FORUM, the national PRSSA newspaper, which BYU is producing for the second consecutive year by invitation of PRSSA. BYU students are also well represented on the PRSSA National Board, with two students having served there during each of the last two academic years.
Each year, more than 100 BYU public relations students participate in internships around the world. These students have been placed in internships with most major public relations agencies in the U.S., as well as high-level government and corporate positions.
“I know that I have gotten the internships and the opportunities that I have because people know that BYU's program is outstanding,” said student Lauren Lytle. “It makes me feel good knowing that I am in one of the top five PR programs in the country.”