Chumley notes the differences in PR education programs, particularly higher education, between different countries and, I am projecting my own thoughts, different business cultures.
First, let us note that Chumley’s observation is, in his own words, unconfirmed and perhaps based upon anecdotal (or unreferenced / linked to) observations. So, my premise is more along the lines of , “What if it is true?”
… (an individual) and some colleagues, as part of a group project, had looked at how many PR diploma or post-grad certificate programs in Ontario included a formal course on research. Surprisingly few was the answer.
Now, I don’t want this to turn into a “beat up on Canada post” because I’m pretty confident this situation likely exists in other countries, and perhaps even in some programs in the U.S. Also, Canadians are nice. I like them.
How widespread it is, I don’t know. However, I believe when I get to the office I can find references to the accreditation requirements for U.S. higher education programs. I am confident that a course in research is required. But, I’ll have to check first. The AJEMC site is down right now. Sorry, I don’t keep these things on file in my mind.
My take would be the following:
- All successful communication starts with an understanding of your audience.
- A coherent and relevant understanding of your audience starts with research of said audience.
- So, any effort to teach how to communicate successfully must include a course in research.
Come on, these are basic tenets of communications – “the discipline that studies the principles of transmitting information and the methods by which it is delivered (as print or radio or television, etc.).” (Source)
To not provide that fundamental basic understanding in your curriculum would be a case of malpractice and malfeasance.
the performance, by an educator, of an act that is unjustified, in principle, and harmful, or contrary to the principles of communication study; wrongdoing (used esp. when referring to an act in violation of a student’s, client’s, or the public’s trust).
My point? To not teach students how to properly research before initiating any form of business and/or organizational communication activity would be an act of malpractice.
failure of an educator to proffer instruction through reprehensible ignorance or negligence, esp. when injury or loss follows – or a stupid press release goes out 🙂 or a PR campaign destined for failure (and wasted client funds) is initiated
This is a perfect example of the failure of public relations practice today. It is more widespread than you may believe.
Evidence this PR Week story, citing that the “2006 PRWeek/Cymfony Corporate Survey reveals that communicators on the corporate side are grasping the importance of new media and measurement – but not everyone has jumped in with both feet.” (Subscription required)
This particular survey cites that “only 51.1% of respondents have allocated some of their 2006 budget for measurement, and of those who did, more than half only allocated 1% to 5% of their budget.”
Please note that the “2006 PRWeek/Cymfony Corporate Survey polled 219 in-house professionals, drawing primarily from the technology, consumer products and service, and financial and professional service industries. Nearly half had revenues from $100 million to more than $1 billion, and half had between one and five employees in the communications department.”
Well, if this is the case, there may be justification for claims of malfeasance and malpractice among practitioners, too.
Too often you will hear practitioners state that they act on gut feelings, or what has worked for them before in other situations. Well, the latter may have relevance, but the former is just lunacy. Sure, some will say there are lies, damn lies and statistics. But, properly conducted research is essential in the practice of public relations.
The sad reality is, on the first day of our course in Survey Research, I tell the students three things.
- The good news is – we’re going to do research.
- The bad news is – for some of you, this may be some of the last research you will ever do.
- Finally, if the latter is true – do your part and push forward the ideal of research in all of your communication planning. To not do so will be a disservice to those you serve and those you wish to reach.
So, what should those programs that are not teaching research do to remedy the situation? Either revise their curriculum and start teaching research or … close their doors. Of course, I would prefer that they do the former.
Too harsh? No. More like, too little – too late. Think about it. How may graduates have they already unleashed upon the world?
I am confident that any argument attempting to justify not teaching research is – indefensible.