PRNEWS, a highly-respected information source for corporate public relations (PR) departments and agencies for more than 75 years, has named Northeastern University to its inaugural “Education A-List.” The A-List is “designed to spotlight the top 35 educational institutions advancing the careers of PR and communication professionals in the U.S.”
The honor is a welcome professional recognition for Northeastern’s Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication program, according to Ed Powers, the faculty lead for the public and media relations concentration.
“We have offered the degree program since 2015 and public and media relations is the most popular concentration in the program,” said Powers. “We’ve been steadily building it out, year after year.”
Part of that process has been an effort to make the Northeastern program more directly applicable to the full work lifecycle of PR departments and agencies. Ed Powers has a deep understanding of that lifecycle, having worked for more than 25 years in corporate PR and communications before joining Northeastern over a decade ago.
“For the past three years, we’ve been working on a concept we call ‘the virtual public relations firm,’” said Powers. In keeping with Northeastern’s emphasis on experiential learning, students in the program have long worked in PR internships as part of their degree program. The virtual PR firm, however, takes that concept one step further.
“We were discovering that oftentimes, an internship for an individual class was too short a period of time,” explained Powers. “Just as students were ramping up and getting to know an organization they were working for, it would be time to finish up and move on to the next class.”
“One of the distinguishing features of the virtual PR firm is that we offer four courses in a row – taking students from research to strategy to two content courses,” he said. “This matches the process that PR agencies go through. The beauty of it is, as they’re learning concepts in each of those four courses, they’re actually trying them out in developing materials for their clients – and it’s the same client for the entire set of four courses.”
This year’s public and media relations students are working for four clients. One of them, Akvo, is a nonprofit organization offering big data analytics services for sustainable development projects. Three Northeastern student teams are working on op-ed opportunities, social media campaigns, and a direct mail project for the organization.
Ed Powers is pleased to see Northeastern’s innovative approach to PR studies is getting noticed by professionals in the field.
“PRNEWS is a respected source in the industry,” he noted. “We’re pleased to be on this list and be seen as one of the leading universities in the country when it comes to developing the next generation of public relations professionals. This provides yet another avenue for prospective students to learn what we’re offering.”