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Why Major in Public Relations?
Telling engaging stories. Influencing opinions. Building relationships with key stakeholders. If you already possess these talents or want to develop them, then the field of public relations could be a perfect fit. PR professionals incorporate creativity, research, analysis and communication skills across a variety of platforms to help frame the public perception of an organization, company, person or campaign. It’s a rewarding career that crosses countless industries, from business and politics to sports and entertainment.
And Belmont University offers one of the best programs to prepare students for this flexible career path. Since the establishment of the public relations major at Belmont in 2004, our public relations graduates are in demand throughout the region, from coast to coast and around the world. Whether you want to work for a prestigious firm, manage the public relations strategy for a corporation or nonprofit organization, or work as a self-employed public relations practitioner, you truly have countless ways to create an impact in the world with this degree.
An interdisciplinary program combining communication, journalism and marketing attributes, public relations courses will emphasize the writing and business savvy pertinent to this dynamic industry. Classes engage students with projects that encourage involvement within the community and provide hands-on experience graduates can add to their resumes. Our professors truly believe in not using only the textbooks, but real practice within the professional world as a teaching tool. Because of our strong connection to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the community, professors often bring in guest speakers who provide even more real-world experience and advice.
In today’s job market, the most competitive public relations graduates will be those who have experience in leadership and internships along with the recommended coursework. Nashville offers extensive and diverse PR internship opportunities, making Belmont the perfect place to study public relations.
What You'll Learn
- Communication tools that drive social change
- Crisis management
- Crafting compelling messages based on audience, purpose and context
- Critically analyzing messages
- Applying ethical communication principles and practices
- Communications Director
- Media Planner
- Media Relations Director
- Press Secretary
- Account Executive
- Public Relations Director
- Public Affairs Director
- Crisis Manager
- Community Relations Director
- Event Planner
"The Public Relations Department at Belmont is full of opportunities for students from the minute they walk into a classroom. As a first-semester freshman I was given the chance to be an executive of the student-run PR firm, take classes revolving around my Social Media Management major and go the national PRSSA conference. The department is special in that it provides experienced and personable faculty who care about each individual student and make efforts towards working one-on-one with them."
The public relations major leads to either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science. It requires 128 hours of coursework:
- BELL core requirements: 53 hours
- Major requirements (including 12 hours of electives): 36 hours
- Minor requirements: 18 hours
- General electives: 21 hours
Courses You'll Take
Public Relations majors are required to take core courses in:
- PRL 1180 Public Relations Principles
Individuals, groups, organizations and all societal institutions use public relations. This course is designed to introduce the purposes, principles and practices of public relations. Students will gain an awareness and deeper understanding of how public relations shapes society by examining historical and contemporary trends as well as the social scientific theoretical underpinnings of the practice.
- PRL 2130 Public Relations Writing I
This course introduces students to the basic concept, style and techniques of public relations writing for journalistic (i.e., uncontrolled or earned) media. It will familiarize students with the principles of strategic and ethical public relations writing for a converged media market. Students will develop and edit strategic messages and determine the optimal time and method for distributing these messages. Particular attention will be placed on the development of news releases, fact sheets, pitches and news advisories for print, broadcast and digital communication. Emphasis will also include industry-standard conventions, such as Associated Press (AP) style.
- PRL 2180 Public Relations Writing II
This course introduces students to the basic concept, style and techniques of public relations writing for organizational (i.e., owned and paid) media. It will familiarize students with the principles of strategic and ethical public relations writing for diverse publics. Students will develop and edit strategic messages for the organizational channels through which those messages are distributed. Particular attention will be placed on the development of fliers, brochures, newsletters, reports, appeals, advertisements and speeches for print, digital and oral communication.
- PRL 2810 Public Relations Cases
This course promotes an in-depth investigation of public relations principles and practices through classic and contemporary case studies. Emphasis is placed on developing the student’s strategic communication management skills, ethics, critical thinking and problem solving abilities through oral and written case presentations and discussions.
- PRL 3180 Public Relations Research
This course examines the roles and techniques of research for effective public relations theory building, decision making and accountability/reporting. Among the topics explored are the research process, background/secondary research, identification of publics, environmental scanning/monitoring, qualitative and quantitative methods, content analysis, in-depth and focus group interviews, surveys and experiments.
- PRL 3810 Public Relations Ethical Leadership
This course considers the ethical and legal responsibilities of a public relations leader in a complex and diverse society. Using a critical public relations lens, the course assesses the intersection of legal standards, ethical philosophies, and the role of public relations in civic dialogue, helping students evaluate the personal and professional standards that guide ethical decision making and explore the implications of diverse global perspectives in public relations ethical leadership.
- PRL 4190 Public Relations Campaigns
This course involves extensive team-based research, planning, implementation and evaluation of a public relations campaign, with service learning applications, for a community partner, a real-world client.
- PRL 4910 Public Relations Internship
Students gain on-the-job experience with public relations in a professional context. Internships will be consistent with the student’s professional objectives.
- PRL 4015 Public Relations Senior Capstone
This course is the culminating experience for public relations majors and fulfills the University’s senior capstone requirement. Students will reflect on their whole educational experiences in becoming young public relations professionals. Following a review of essential public relations knowledge, skills and abilities, students will develop personal public relations plans to guide their transition to life beyond Belmont.
In addition, students choose 12 credit hours from the following elective courses:
- PRL 2010 Tower Creative Practicum
This course provides students with practical experiences in public relations. Using actual, campus-based and off-campus clients, students will apply their knowledge and skills to real-world public relations problems and opportunities. Students research, plan, write, coordinate, produce, implement and evaluate various communication strategies and tactics. This course is designed for associates of Tower Creative Communications, Belmont University’s student-run public relations firm.
- PRL 2510 Sport and Public Relations
This course familiarizes students with the principles and basic techniques of sport public relations for collegiate and professional sports. Particular attention will be placed on the role of media and sport, the creation and dissemination of messages and their distribution systems, the management of crisis situations and the demonstration of social responsibility through sport.
- PRL 2650 Nonprofit Public Relations & Development
This course explores the role of strategic communication management in advancing the mission and causes of nonprofit organizations. Emphasis will also include the operations of a development program, including how to find donors, manage the fundraising process, write grant applications and secure other financial support.
- PRL 2710 Social Media and Public Relations
This course examines current and emerging web-based and mobile technologies and associated trends that are affecting public relations. Emphasis is placed on the use of social media to discover and interact with connected publics by curating, creating and sharing content, monitoring and measuring engagement and analyzing and applying insights to integrated communication strategies.
- PRL 2820 Public Relations Design & Production
This course equips students with the knowledge and technical skills to conceptualize, design, produce and manage various print and digital media that are commonly used in public relations programs and campaigns.
- PRL 2880 Social Media Content Development
This course explores storytelling for strategic communications and introduces students to essential social media platforms through which purposeful stories can be produced and disseminated. Students will gain first-hand experience creating strategic content for web-based and mobile platforms using text, images, audio and video.
- PRL 2960 International Public Relations
This course explores the growing impact of globalization on public relations by examining how communication management is practiced in international contexts.
- PRL 3380 Social Media Measurement & Analytics
This course emphasizes the identification of key performance indicators for strategic communications, determination of relevant and trackable metrics, measurement of communication outcomes and analysis of data for strategic decision-making. Students will learn how to gather, assess and analyze data than can be used for trend-spotting, policy recommendations and forward-looking communication strategy.
- PRL 3680 Risk and Crisis Management for Social Media
This course introduces students to the key elements of risk and crisis management on social media. The course will consider the variety and life cycles of online crises as well as their benefits and limitations of traditional crisis responses. Finally, students will learn to develop and apply a multi-faceted and multi-channel strategy that protects and enhances online community management.
- PRL 3710 Event Planning
This course focuses on planning, promotion, implementation and evaluation of events as a communication tactic. Emphasis is placed on creating events that are aligned with public relations strategies and support communication objectives.
- PRL 3800 Media Relations
This course equips students to practice the media relations function of public relations by applying theories and skills needed to work effectively with traditional and new media gatekeepers. Emphasis is placed on researching media outlets, managing contacts, pitching, media training and interviewing.
- PRL 3910 Advanced Public Relations Campaigns
This course creates a real-world learning environment that engages students in the research, planning, implementation and evaluation of public relations through an intensive client-based project. Through the course, students learn how to strategically plan a campaign, implement a campaign, and make adjustments in the midst of a campaign. Emphasis is also placed on the ethical and social responsibility of communication actions and the opportunity to create positive change for a client-organization and its stakeholders.
- PRL 4380 Social Media Planning and Management
This course is designed to amalgamate the principles and practice of social media management, particularly in the process of campaign planning and management. Students will engage in formative research, define objectives, develop strategies and tactics, and determine appropriate measures for effectiveness.
- Public Relations Student Society of America: PRSSA is a nationally affiliated organization for students interested in public relations to develop themselves pre-professionally outside the classroom through networking, internship opportunities and professional education.
- Tower Creative Communications: Tower Creative Communications is the nationally affiliated, student-run strategic communication agency at Belmont University. Established in 2006 as a professional development initiative of Belmont’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), Tower Creative strives to deliver excellent communication strategies and tactics to meet actual needs, solve real problems and, ultimately, advance their clients’ missions. The agency welcomes a diverse group of student associates—from any major or minor—with knowledge and skills in public relations, marketing, management, audio/video production, graphic design, photography, social media management, web design and writing. Working together, associates sharpen their skills, build their portfolios and bolster their confidence while serving the communication needs of on- and off-campus clients.