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What type of courses should you look for in an ideal public relations masters degree for future spin doctors?

by JERRY SILVER // Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
Digital PR specialist and CEO at Spin Factory

So, I was thinking the other day about how I would put together a perfect PR education.

I guess I would compile it something like this:

Year 1

First Semester

Media Logic I, 10 weeks
— Bandwagon Effect, Card-Stacking, Dunbar’s Number, Spiral of Silence, Market-Driven Journalism, The Tipping Point, The Long-Tail, Shannon-Weaver Model, The Global Village, News Media Logic, Social Media Logic, etc.

Media Organizations, 5 weeks
— Media Conglomerates, The Power of Media, Market-Driven Journalism, Ownership Structures, Global vs. Local Media, Circulation, etc.

Modern Marketing, 5 weeks
– The Media Mix, Bought/Owned/Earned Media, Introduction to PR, SEO Basics, Introduction to Web Strategy, Mobile Marketing, Advertising, Push & Pull, Social Objects, Media Buy Dynamics, Integrated Marketing, Branding, etc.

Second Semester

Rhetoric, 5 weeks
– Oral Presentations, Written Presentations, Pitching Basics, Classical Disposition, Presentation Software, etc.

Methodology I, 5 weeks
– Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research, Correlations, etc.

Persuasiv3 Writing, 10 weeks
– Headlines, Style, Clarity and Brevity, Call-To-Action, Prominence, Structure and Disposition, Proofreading, Copy Editing, Portfolio Production, etc.

Year 2

First Semester

Creativity Techniques, 5 weeks
– Brainstorming, Physical Feedback Loop, Image-Streaming, Variation Technique, Case Studies, Inspirational Seminars, etc.

Organizational Structures, 5 weeks
– Listed Companies, Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses, Marketing Structures, Value-Chain, Controlling, Laws, Ethics, etc.

Strategic Communications, 10 weeks
– Two-Way Symmetrical Model, Open/Closed Systems Models, Business Objectives, PR Value, and Measurability, etc.

Second Semester

Tools of the Trade, 10 weeks
– Media Training Basics, Press Releases, Policies and Guidelines, PR Strategies, Workshop Formats, Media Relations Basics, Content Creation, Infographics, SWOT Analysis, Social Media Intelligence, etc.

Methodology II, 5 weeks
– Statistics, Science Philosophy, etc.

Diploma Thesis, 5 weeks
– Students to pick the subject.

Year 3

First Semester

Web Strategy & Online Conversion, 10 weeks
– Call-to-Actions, Disposition, Structure, Wireframes, Mockups, Semiotics etc.

PR Summit, 10 weeks
– Arranging Seminars, Inviting Guests & Speakers, Event Marketing, PR Logistics, etc.

Second Semester

Media Logic II, 5 weeks
– Maslow’s Pyramide, Uses & Gratifications, Incentives & Motivators, Gift Status, Media Semantics, The Medium is the Message, Critical Theories, Perception, and Cognition, etc.

Methodology III, 5 weeks
– Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research, Advanced Science Philosophy, etc.

Bachelor Thesis, 10 weeks
– Students to pick the subject.

Year 4

First Semester

Internship / International Studies, 10 weeks
-Students to find their own internships or choose the subjects and country to study in.

Methodology IV, 5 weeks
– Advanced Research, Advanced Science Methods, etc.

Social Psychology and Persuasion, 5 weeks
– The Advisory Role, Underdog Psychology, Conflict/Diplomacy, Affirmations, Visualizations, Authority, Influencing Influencers, Spin Doctoring, The Power of Suggestions, Social Proof/Testimonials, etc.

Second Semester

Available specializations at 1/2 speed (choose 2-4):

Public Affairs and Lobbying, 10 weeks

Corporate Communications and Issues Management, 10 weeks

Social Media PR and Community Management, 10 weeks

CSR and B2B Industry PR, 10 weeks

Internal Communications and Employer Branding, 10 weeks

FMCG PR and Branding, 10 weeks

Year 5

First Semester

Master Thesis, 20 weeks
– Students to pick the subject.

Public Relations Masters Degree.

What do you think the perfect public relations masters degree should include? Let me know in the comment section.

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Behind the keyboard:

Jerry Silver is the author of Doctor Spin, a PR blog that's been around for 15+ years. Via his agency Spin Factory, Jerry is advising brands on how to adapt to a 'digital first' world. In 2016, Cision Scandinavia named him "PR Influencer of the Year". Jerry lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife Lisah, news anchor and television host, and their three-year-old son, Jack.

Doctor Spin’s comment policy:
“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Reader reactions:

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Omer Rosenbaum

5 years? Don’t wanna underestimate the profession but 5 years it too much. Think how long does it take to be an architect or M.D.
I would suggest 2 years of full-time studies (real full time, not the Swedish full-time) and 1 year internship.

Doctor Spin

At the moment, we’re doing interviews with NYC interns and no-one comes with less than four years of education. I think two years isn’t enough if you want to hit that strategic level.

Sven Wennerström

I think a lot of it is just a waste of time – things that bright young PR professionals will pick up in just a few weeks working at an agency, given a solid academic foundation.

Such a foundation should include media studies, economy (micro, macro, business), marketing and (possibly optional) political science. And math and statistics, of course. You should never hire, nor trust, a PR professional who isn’t math savvy.

Doctor Spin

The consistent feedback I get is that 4,5 years is too long. But I’m okay with that — I really wanted to emphasize that PR very well could be studied in-depth. Communication is a highly complex subject matter.

Claire Celsi

Jerry, I agree with your proposed curriculum. I would add a few mandatory business classes such as intellectual property, finance and budget and investor relations. I would also move the research classes more toward the first year. For me, it took a while for the beauty and utility of research’s role in PR to sink in. Having that knowledge ingrained within the first year of study would greatly improve understanding of that segment of PR. Thanks for posting this! Claire


looks like a great education that I would have loved to have. Two main areas I’m missing is ‘organizational learning’ and ‘intercultural communication’ which I see as major in our globalized world

Doctor Spin

Agreed, solid input.