Public Relations

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Undergraduate Major

Description

The Public Relations major within the Bachelor of Communication equips students with the abilities and knowledge to strategically plan, develop, execute and evaluate communication strategies that present an organisation to the public, clients and other stakeholders. Specialisations within this field include consumer and product public relations, public affairs (lobbing), issues and crisis management, media management and publicity, and internal communications within organisations.

Graduates may conventionally seek employment in public relations, yet also forge careers in event management, promotion, advertising, marketing, and policy development in public and private sectors. Industries of employment are vast, with varying levels and departments of governments and companies, as well as individuals, requiring mediatory skills of a professional communicator.

Work Experience

Due to the highly competitive nature of contemporary public relations, it is recommended that students undertake industry experience in order to expand their portfolio and gain employment on graduating. In addition to the compulsory practical placement embedded in the third year, students are urged to take as many opportunities as possible to implement their skills.

View our Bachelor of Communication in the Program Handbook and the online prospectus What Can I Study?.

Academic advice: view Study Pathways for this major »

Honours:

An Honours year is available to students as a separate program in the form of an additional year to those who meet the entry requirements. For more information about this program, see Bachelor of Communications (Honours).

Postgraduate Study:

Some occupations require a higher level of completed study than an undergraduate degree, and for this reason it is worthwhile considering the range of postgraduate study options available. Postgraduate study may also be useful for specialising in a particular area, or to stimulate career change. Some of the postgraduate study options include:

Research:

Masters
PhD

Coursework:

Postgraduate coursework programs can add further specialisations in areas including business, safety, quality assurance and teaching. To explore such options please visit the Postgraduate Handbook.

Sample Jobs

Graduates majoring in Public Relations can find employment in a variety of roles in many different types of organisations. The list below provides typical job titles for graduates from this major.

Some of these jobs will depend upon the amount and level of study undertaken, level of experience, and the combination of other majors and electives studied, for example some may require further study.

Not everyone uses their degree in the same way and the transferable skills gained through university study may allow graduates to pursue a range of careers that might not be directly linked to their study. Below is a sample list of job titles that might be suitable for graduates with the skills gained majoring in Public Relations.

Some of these jobs will depend upon the amount and level of study undertaken, level of experience, and the combination of other majors and electives studied, for example some may require further study.

 

Getting the Edge

Most employers seek to recruit people who have relevant work experience and an appreciation for their industry. Here is a check list of ideas about gaining experience and industry knowledge.

  1. Check the type of experience most employers in your field of interest expect. Don’t overlook the part time work you may be currently doing. Most employers understand that the skills are transferrable even if the work is not in their industry.
  2. Check your academic program for any courses that involve a placement or the opportunity to undertake an industry based project.
  3. Check your school for Summer Scholarships for research opportunities.
  4. Check vacancy sites for advertised traineeships, part time employment and vacation work opportunities in your field.
  5. Source and approach organisations directly about possible work shadowing or information interview opportunities.
  6. Source and approach organisations directly for paid work opportunities.
  7. Consider volunteering.

Note: Gaining experience may be important but not at the expense of your studies. Make sure you do not overload your timetable with unrealistic work commitments.

 

Sample Employers

Employment opportunities for graduates majoring in Public Relations exist in a wide range of industries within small, medium, and large organisations, across a range of industries. Below are some examples of major organisations who recruit Public Relations graduates.

Check employers' websites for a section called Employment, Careers, Graduate Programs or similar titles. Some of these employers may offer vacation work opportunities.

Recruitment Timing

Some large organisations have specific graduate recruitment programs designed to employ the pick of graduates each year. You must be in your final year of study or recently completed to apply for these programs. The timing of these recruitment drives varies and may occur at any point in the academic year, in some cases starting as early as the first few weeks of the first semester or trimester.

Find out if employers in your area/s of interest have graduate programs, when they typically recruit and what recruitment methods they use. Check with the Careers Service .

Societies and Associations

Associations and societies often provide relevant and up to date information about a variety of issues relating to specific industry sectors. These can be a good starting point to learn more about occupations through profiles, industry news, links to academic journals and information on research developments. Many also offer student membership, conference and professional development activities, newsletters and the opportunity to participate in projects.


Don’t overlook student societies and associations. As well as student chapters of professional associations, some faculties or schools have discipline based student associations. Check your school or faculty web site; perhaps you might start one if one doesn’t exist.

Some academic disciplines run Seminar Programs that involve regular seminars presented by University of Newcastle academics, visiting academics and postgraduate students. Check your schools website for the timetable.

Job Search Sites

Searching job sites is a good way to gain an understanding of: industries recruiting professionals in this field; types of roles and the requirements or expectations of employers for these roles. There are many online job search sites, here are a few to start with:

Australian and International

  • CareerHub: the University of Newcastle Careers Service careers and job search site for enrolled students and graduates.

Australian

  • CareerOne: Australia wide job listings, all levels and industries including executive positions
  • MyCareer: Australian and international listings
  • Seek: comprehensive Australian job listings, also includes New Zealand and UK listings
  • The Big Chair: Management and Executive Jobs

International

Graduate Attributes and Employability

Graduate attributes for the Bachelor of Communications are the skills, abilities and knowledge sets that are highly sought after in the construction industry. Below is the complete list of attributes that graduates will have demonstrated upon the completion of the degree.

Graduate Attributes

On completion of the Bachelor of Communication degree, a graduate will be able to demonstrate:

  • In-depth knowledge and ability to appropriate to a person seeking entry to communication and cultural industries or seeking to undertake further study in the discipline.
  • Ability to recognise the inter-related nature of communication practices and the inter-related nature of informing disciplines.
  • Capacity to engage in constructive public discourse to sustain communities.
  • Understanding of methodologies and theories of interpretation relevant to communication practice, research and creative endeavour.
  • Critically reflect on the practice of communication, engage with and interpret complex text and seek creative solutions to multi-faceted problems.
  • Ability to work co-operatively and collaboratively in communication productions, showing appropriate levels of independent initiative and professional judgement.
  • Competence to research and interpret issues in a chosen field and to use information communication technologies in research, learning and communities of practice.
  • Capacity to construct and present narratives and arguments with clarity and effectiveness in written, oral and multimedia forms.
  • Knowledge of ethical, justice and equity issues relevant to society, communication and cultural industries.
  • A level of cultural awareness, knowledge and sensitivity that will be required for constructive social action and to develop the skills and motivation necessary to support life long learning.