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Not Just Publicity Anymore

New public relations degree gets students market-ready and on track for management positions

Public relations isn’t just publicity and event planning anymore.

According to top employers interviewed by SMU Meadows’ Division of Communication Studies, today’s public relations professionals must also be competent in media relations, advertising, journalism, strategic planning, fostering relationships and more.

To answer this call, SMU Meadows has combined the best of its three outstanding Journalism, Communication Studies and Advertising divisions and launched a new Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations and Strategic Communications.

The program offers a palette that no other university offers: courses that emphasize not just theory but also public relations practice; learning outside the classroom; participation in a student-run consulting firm; debate (both competition and mentoring) opportunities; venues for up-close and hands-on participation in political arenas in Washington, D.C.; internships both locally and internationally; excellent partnerships with industry professionals; and a nationally award-winning chapter of PRSSA.

From left: Dr. Maria Dixon Hall, Dr. Rita Linjuan Men and Dr. Sandra Duhé, APR.

On top of that, courses are taught by industry-proven faculty from all three divisions.

Meadows Dean José Bowen has added two of the most prominent public relations voices in the industry, Dr. Sandra Duhé, APR, and Dr. Rita Linjuan Men, to the Communication Studies faculty. Both bring considerable industry and academic credentials.

Prior to her appointment at SMU to lead the new program, Duhé served as head of the public relations program and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Her corporate career includes time as a financial analyst for Conoco and as public affairs manager for Conoco, Mobil and ExxonMobil, with extensive experience in media relations, community outreach, brand management and crisis response. Her research has been published in journals including Public Relations Review and Public Relations Journal, and the second edition of her edited text, New Media and Public Relations, was published by Peter Lang in 2012.

Assistant Professor Men is a heavy hitter in corporate communication, marketing campaign planning and public relations research. She has worked internationally with L’Oreal and Ketchum and has provided communication research consulting for numerous multinational corporations and nonprofit organizations. Dr. Men is the former co-organizer and advisory board member of the International Public Relations Research Conference. Prior to joining SMU, she taught for two years in the strategic communication department at the University of Miami. Men has received multiple top awards from the Public Relations Division of the International Communication Association and the International Public Relations Research Conference, and is the 2010 recipient of the Ketchum Excellence in Public Relations Research Award from the Institute for Public Relations, one of the most prestigious research awards in the field of public relations.

“Public relations today is based largely in research and in relationships between an organization and its stakeholders,” says Duhé. “Two-way communication is essential. What we do as public relations professionals is cultivate, maintain and steward multiple relationships on behalf of an organization. We are positioned to be counselors to management, help in decision-making and help form policy. Crisis response certainly comes into play as well.

“The new public relations degree program gives students a broader view of the practice. They will emerge from this program prepared to be managers, equipped with not only the technical side of the practice but also with a broader management perspective.”

Two-Day Symposium to Draw Top Communicators
Coinciding with the announcement of the new degree, the Communications Studies Division is holding its annual Communicating Excellence Series event, “Future Speak: Public Relations Today and Tomorrow,” on Sept. 18 and 19, 2012. The event brings together top communicators to examine and discuss what is necessary for public relations professionals to be successful now and in the future.

The event is sponsored by GolinHarris and by the Division of Communication Studies and the Communication Studies Advisory Board.

View the schedule of events and registration information for "Future Speak: Public Relations Today and Tomorrow.”

For more information call 214-768-1574.

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