The space of communications in India is changing FAST – the rise of new media platforms; the shift in the way Indians consume news and information – has all challenged traditional approaches to Public Relations, and will continue to evolve it. But more importantly, it has created a need for people who understand these shifts and can skill up the Public Relations community rapidly – The Public Relations Faculty.
Formal education in Public Relations is relatively limited in India. Apart from media courses in various colleges, there are very few in the field who can effectively educate the aspiring professionals in application of advanced techniques of public relations.
Several international universities that have dedicated focus on Public Relations education, look for certain unique attributes in their public relations faculty. These attributes help the faculty equip their students with both skills and knowledge that they will need to excel as Public Relations professionals. A major ask is also for them to create an environment around their students that allows them to test these skills and gain ample insights on their strengths and areas of improvement.
I discuss in this post the traits of such ideal public relations faculty.
1. Understanding of the fundamentals
First and foremost, a good Public Relations faculty needs to understand the craft of Public Relations very well – how the various media vehicles interact with each other, as well as ways to wield them accurately.
2. Relationship of PR with other media services
The media ecosystem of which PR becomes a part has other entities that influence its effectiveness. A good Public Relations faculty must know how to tackle the rhythm of these elements, and deploy these efforts well.
3. Understanding the complex characteristics of media entities
From the ideological alignments, to interests, rhetoric, ownership, hierarchy, organisational structures etc. the ecosystem of earned media is quite definitive in certain aspects. Public Relations education must include knowledge of how to identify and map such characteristics, and the limitations of media entities.
4. Nurturing street smarts
There is ample theory and information for students of Public Relations to learn and memorise frameworks. However, application of Public Relations is happening in increasingly heterogeneous and complex scenarios and faculty must put the students through scenarios that hone their ability to think on their feet
5. Propagate ethics
Scholars of Public Relations are likely to understand the relevance of ethical boundaries only once they are practising professionals. A good public relations faculty must lay additional emphasis at the time of their education to convey the importance of sustaining this value.
6. Intertwined with the profession
Dynamic as our profession is, approaches and norms change all the time. Some are natural evolution of the way we interact, while some are sparked by happenings in the profession. A good public relations faculty must not only stay updated on such events, but also guide their students on how to keep themselves intertwined with them once they are Public Relations practitioners.
7. Gives real-world feel to classroom
When students step out into the real world as practitioners, there may be a lag before they are able to apply their theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios. That is a lag that not everyone may afford. Through case studies, simulations, industrial interactions etc. faculty can ensure that students experience that application beforehand.
Finally, a good Public Relations faculty must be a good mentor, during and after the education period. Such mentorship can go far in continuous enrichment of their students’ talent, and can further breed the habit of mentorship and guidance.
In addition, a good Public Relations faculty, must by virtue of his profession, be a great communicator. He must be able to gauge his student body well, understand how they grasp different concepts. Public Relations students vary immensely in age group, background and other factors, and the ability to connect with varied personalities is essential for a good Public Relations faculty.
School of Communications & Reputation (SCoRe) — India’s only institute dedicated to PR education. Know more about our PG programme in PR, and other activities we do to share PR Knowledge: www.scoreindia.org