The new semester is here and I’m happy to report that after a summer of some serious integrated marketing, Hofstra University’s new graduate program in public relations is up and running. With just four months’ promotion, 17 students have registered full- and part-time, and our first three classes will kick off over minimum capacity and on schedule.
Aside from what’s already in the syllabuses, what should my colleagues and I be teaching PR graduate and undergraduate students in this fall? What are the current issues within our profession, and where should the emphases be placed? What’s the industry buzz about new directions, new technologies, and new ways to effectively reach our audiences?
Clearly the ability to target audiences grows more sophisticated each day. We’ve entered the Age of Big Data in which we capture, analyze and share massive amounts of information about our audiences and ourselves. Big Data gives large entities from government to retailers–and small entities as close as the people sitting next to you–incredible access to your personal attitudes, likes and habits.
The use of video and photos have become highly central to effective messaging. PR people and other communicators must have the technical ability and persuasion skills to bring visual elements into everything we do online.
The concept of online news being supplemented by paid-for stories adds another layer of questions about how we use the new media. If PR and marketing professionals are creating and placing more and more content, it means we need to take extra care to do it responsibly, accurately and honestly.
And what’ll be next year’s Pinterest or Instagram? Is Facebook really losing its luster among young people? Will news become even more Twitter-centric? Will LinkedIn’s surge in effectiveness and popularity continue? Are newspapers and press releases really going to die? Faculty must stay in close touch with professionals so we can share and discuss the trends and practical knowledge in our classrooms.
I can’t wait to get started. This semester of PR promises to be more challenging–and more fun–than ever. So, welcome back! Your thoughts?