The Communication Department unanimously agrees that the Public Relations option should not be moved to the College of Business Administration. Most importantly, this move would not serve the interest of students in terms of preparing them for jobs in public relations:
(1) Historically, public relations has been significantly informed by Journalism because public relations often involves the development of company publications (both internal and external), as well as the writing of press releases and the production of press kits. In addition, employers expect public relations graduates to have a grasp on proper layout and journalistic writing style, such as the Associated Press (AP) publication style. Indeed, much of public relations is about developing and maintaining relationships with the media. Yet, the P & R recommendation would have the Journalism Option and its curriculum remain in the Communication Department. The College of Business would then produce public relations practitioners who've never taken a journalism writing course? This would hinder students’ abilities to get jobs in many sectors of public relations. Currently, we require all our public relations majors to take Writing for Communication Practitioners, Reporting I, Reporting ll, Magazine Journalism, and PR Writing. These five courses help prepare Public Relations students for the intensive writing they can expect when they start their careers.
(2) Public relations is also significantly informed by Organizational Communication/ Communication Studies. One of the main functions of public relations is to manage organizational relationships with a variety of publics, both internal and external, which extends far beyond the reach of marketing. Generally in all sectors, public relations professionals are expected to be the conduit to both their organizational publics and their external publics, including consumers, stockholders, the media, environmental groups, and community residents, just to name a few. Thus, many public relations options, not just Cal Poly Pomona’s, require students to take Communication Theory, Organizational Communication, and Persuasion—all Communication Studies courses. At Cal Poly, we also require all our students to take Communication Ethics, Communication Law, and Communication Research. Yet, under the P & R recommendation the Communication Studies option and its curriculum would also remain in the Communication Department.
To be sure, Public Relations, Journalism, and Communication Studies share a vibrant symbiotic relationship. Yes, PR does involve public persuasion, as does Marketing, but so do many other disciplines in one way or another. That argument alone is not a viable justification for combining the two disciplines.
While the Communication Department does not believe that Public Relations should be rehoused, we do recognize the need for closer ties and interaction between the departments of Communication and International Business and Marketing. More Communication students should be encouraged to minor in International Business and Marketing, and more IBM majors should consider minoring in Public Relations. Additionally, there may be a course or two—perhaps not yet even established—that would blossom by being team-taught by both disciplines. Finally, student clubs in Public Relations and IBM would benefit by extending their reach and opening their ranks to each other.