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PRSA partners with universities to advance Public Relations Instruction in MBA Programs

Public Relations Society of America

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has selected five business schools to participate in a groundbreaking pilot program aimed at enhancing the strategic communication and reputation management education provided to the nation’s MBA candidates.

The schools selected by PRSA have demonstrated a commitment to teaching the strategic value of public relations at the MBA level, and currently offer or have previously offered public relations classes or coursework in their MBA and/or Executive MBA programs.

The institutions taking part in the pilot include Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, ranked by The Economist as the world’s best MBA program; the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business; Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management; Quinnipiac University’s School of Business; and the University of Texas at El Paso’sCollege of Business Administration, ranked by HispanicBusiness as the top graduate school for Hispanics.

“We’re extremely proud of the quality and diversity of the university programs that showed interest and were selected to take part in our MBA pilot program,” said PRSA Chair and Chief Executive Officer Gerard F. Corbett, APR, Fellow PRSA. “Our aim was to identify schools that were best-in-class in their respective categories and representative of various geographies, sizes and specializations, and I’d say we exceeded those goals, given the caliber of the institutions selected.”

Under the pilot program, the selected schools are being asked to integrate a new, turn-key public relations course into their MBA curricula for the 2012-2013 academic year. PRSA developed the course in partnership with Paul Argenti, professor of corporate communications at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

These schools also will be asked to work collaboratively on identifying and documenting best practices in terms of subject matter and teaching methods, and to aggregate their findings into a formal report to be released at the pilot program’s end.

Upon successful validation of the curriculum, PRSA will offer the public relations course and best-practices guide to business schools nationwide.

“It’s extremely important for us to advance public relations education in business schools,” said Corbett, “so as to influence the next generation of business leaders at a crucial point in their learning.”

PRSA Study Underscores Need for Public Relations TrainingIn October 2011, a Kelton Business Leader Study commissioned by PRSA surveyed 204 American business leaders (vice president and above) to gauge the organizational value that U.S. business executives place on corporate communications and reputation management, and on senior managers having advanced knowledge and grounding in those areas.

The survey results showed that many American business leaders view recent MBA graduates as being under-prepared in the areas of strategic communication and reputation management. The results also showed that many of the business leaders surveyed believe MBA programs lack sufficient emphasis on communications strategy and related leadership skills.

To help address this lack of training, PRSA’s MBA initiative is a multi-year, collaborative effort to advocate the value of including foundational communications strategy in MBA programs. Ultimately, the program is intended to give MBA candidates a better appreciation of public relations’ strategic value and help them understand the communications methodologies required for success in the future.

Initial funding for the initiative was provided by the PRSA Foundation, and ongoing financial and material support is being provided by MWW Group, Kelton Research, Hilton Hotels Corporation and Southwest Airlines. The program also has the support of the Arthur W. Page Society, Council of Public Relations Firms and International Association of Business Communicators.

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