6 Surprising Academic Majors That Led to Great PR Careers

qualificationIf you’re considering a career in public relations, you may be surprised at just how much you will learn outside of the classroom.  Not to downplay the importance of the traditional public relations/communications course of study, but there are many majors that prepare a person for a fulfilling communications career. Especially if you’re changing careers and didn’t study communications, you may be able to use the major you obtained in school.  If you hustle by getting a mentor,  some valuable internship experience and work experience at a public relations agency, firm, or the communications department of a non-profit,  you can probably make a career in public relations work without a public relations degree.

Here are a few degrees that I believe churn out great PR pros. This list is by no means exhaustive.

Criminology; See Kara Bussabarger

If you studied criminology, you’re a master of human behavior, which gives you great insights into understanding how people communicate, why people communicate and how to communicate effectively. I think this translates well in terms of the back-end knowledge needed to understand how to write and speak effectively and persuasively, as well as how to manage crises.

Psychology; See Colleen Moffitt

Like criminology majors, psych majors also master human behavior. This helps them understand many of the complex issues that come with public relations, like media relations, customer relations, and client relations. But I also think it helps them understand and predict the behavioral trends that influence both the public and the media.

Sociology; See Jacqueline Lara

Sociologists are the kings and queens of research. When crafting the perfect pitch, this innate skill can prove invaluable.  I know of one former sociology major who enjoys “digging for a juicy statistic” to make her pitches shine. That’s a socy major, alright!

Radio-TV-Film; See Anne Williams and Marc Silverstein

Understanding the production process is key to communicating with today’s multimedia journalists. Two years ago, I would automatically named journalism as the number one lead-in career to PR (and it still can be) but for the era we’re in, digital and multimedia know-how coupled with journalism ethics trumps the basic understanding of the editorial process.

English and HistorySee Amanda Miller Littlejohn

Okay, so I just had to plug my own double major course of study. When I went to college, I contemplated journalism, but quickly decided against it and enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences. I became an English major during my first year and later bumped up my major count to two after wracking up so many history credits. English and history have served me well in PR; they’ve enabled me to observe a business problem, conduct research, and craft quick persuasive copy. The two majors together also help me to see the big picture (History) without losing sight of the details (English). Looking back, I don’t think I could have chosen a better two majors for what has evolved into an ever-changing career.

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