Journalism department introduces public relations as new major

By Brenna McDermot (@letterstowomen)

Public relations is debuting as a major in the journalism department this fall 2015 semester.

With projected job growth being 23 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of public relations is growing rapidly, especially as online communication and media become more relevant in people’s life. This in addition to public relations being journalism’s most popular emphasis prompted former journalism department professor Julie Henderson to make public relations its own major.

Moreover, UW Oshkosh is the only university in Wisconsin and one of 28 universities in the country whose public relations program achieved Certification in Public Relations.

What is public relations? According to the Public Relations Society of America, public relations is a “strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” It’s not spin. It’s not making someone or something look good.

Even though most people think that public relations practitioners only do media relations, the breadth of job options is diverse. Here are some of the fields in which public relations practitioners work:

  • Employee relations
  • Social media
  • Event planning
  • Brand management
  • Crisis communication
  • Government relations
  • Fundraising
  • Marketing

So what kind of person is most suited for public relations career? Public relations practitioners write well, talk easily with others, enjoy no two days being the same, can handle multiple projects at once, think from multiple points of view and work calmly under tight deadlines.

Students will have the opportunity to participate in real-word public relations projects such as creating campaigns and blogging in class and in Public Relations Student Society of America.

Required to take 39 credits, public relations majors can obtain a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science. The major does not require a minor, but it is encouraged.

To learn more about the major, contact professor Sara Steffes Hansen (, professor Jean Giovanetti ( or journalism department chairman Timothy Gleason (


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