By Kylee Julian, May 9, 2019
The University of Central Missouri’s public relations program changed my life. When I transferred to UCM, I had never heard of a public relations major, and I certainly didn’t know I could get a degree in it! I didn't know what strategic communications was either, and it's pretty much the same thing. I wasn’t in the dark very long. I told my friends and academic advisor that I liked to tell stories, was intrigued by organizational management and business, loved being creative, and felt good helping other people. It didn’t take long for me to discover that everything I liked to do is actually a major at UCM - a public relations major - and what a ride it has been!
The program’s tagline for public relations helped me figure it all out. We’re taught that PR is the “voice behind the voice.” No wonder I didn’t know I wanted to major in public relations BEFORE I got to UCM. There really does exist this thing called the public relations field, and a college student can earn a public relations degree in it. Behind every great front page story of a newspaper, you’ll find a public relations professional. Behind every great speech, is a public relations professional. The strategist behind a successful event series? You got it - a public relations professional. Behind every video that pulls you in and gets you excited, there’s a public relations professional working hard.
Public relations people are everywhere. They help their organizations or other people BE HEARD. That’s pretty cool. They don’t get the limelight or byline, but that’s okay with me. They even set the stage so that marketing, development and advertising people can get their jobs done. The relationships they form with journalists, financial analysts and other influencers often set the course for an organization’s success or failure. Who knew? But, gosh, it’s exciting.
It’s an awesome degree that lets you develop all kinds of skills - more than 10 by my count. I know a little bit about a whole lot of things, and people pay me for it…already. I got paid for my internship. Now, I am getting paid to help other students learn about public relations at UCM. We’ll team up together to help Innovative Public Relations clients (IPR is UCM’s award-winning student-led public relations firm) be heard. I can actually use Adobe Creative Suite to create brochures, web images, logos and all other kinds of things. Plus, I know what kind of resolution is best for digital or print, or when video is better than a still image.
I’ve been challenged a lot by the UCM public relations faculty, but it’s been all good. They’ve given me marketable skill sets and confidence. I even got to travel with the program when it helped 33 students take an awesome study abroad trip to Brisbane, Australia. We had so much fun, learned about public relations in another country, put our storytelling skills to the test (yep, we produced blogs and social media posts with a purpose), and connected with more than 25 international professionals. Now that’s what I call an awesome education. It’s what UCM folks call “learning to a greater degree.” Australia? Well, it was opportunity in action.
As a closing thought, here’s what’s really cool. As I get ready to graduate, I know I can do something many graduates from other majors cannot do. I can use my PR skills in any industry I want (and get paid more than $40K to do it). Finance needs public relations. Entertainment needs public relations. Fashion needs public relations. Animal safety enthusiasts need public relations. Engineering companies need public relations. Agricultural companies need public relations. Companies in crisis need public relations. Hospitals need public relations. Manufacturers need public relations. Universities need public relations. Every organization needs public relations.* I can start out an events coordinator, media relations specialist, crisis communication strategist, public affairs officer, public relations manager, promotions coordinator or social media manager. Need I say more? It really is “one degree, a world of opportunities,” just like the UCM public relations program claims; with so many different career paths, it's no wonder PR is often called strategic communications! For more information, check out ucmo.edu/pr.
*According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for PR managers from 2016 to 2026 is 10%, which is faster than the average for all other occupations. The median manager salary reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2018 was $114,800. This is similar to the median salary reported by PRWeek in its 2018 Salary Survey of $95,000 for all levels of public relations employment, not just managers.
Public relations major at UCM
UCM Innovative Public Relations
UCM Study Abroad – Public Relations in Australia