Public Relations (BA)

The Public Relations major at Columbia College Chicago connects you to the broad field of communications. From strategy to research to media relations to crisis communications, you’ll discover the ins and outs of fast-paced and fun careers as you engage the public and shape perceptions of organizations, products, and ideas.

We’ll use our industry connections to get you working and networking with PR professionals. With hard-earned internships and in-class projects that allow you to work with real clients on media and content strategy, you’ll build a portfolio that reflects a broad understanding of public relations. After graduating from Columbia, you’ll be ready to succeed in an agency, corporate, government, or nonprofit public relations environment.

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In the Classroom

What to expect your first year

You’ll dive into public relations practice in your very first semester. In our foundations PR courses, including Introduction to Public Relations and Public Relations Writing, you’ll write starter press materials, conduct audience research, and deliver team presentations. In Consumer Behavior, you’ll test your research skills and train on industry-standard media intelligence databases as well as conduct consumer research and monitor the media. This research experience gives you an in-demand skill set early on in your studies.

The first year isn’t too soon to start thinking about internships. We’ll discuss the dozens of opportunities available to you just steps from our campus, and you’ll begin to understand what it will take to land your first PR internship.

What to expect your last year

During your senior year, you’ll probably be working on your second internship, strategically networking with industry professionals, and developing your resume and portfolio. In courses like Strategic Media Relations, you’ll learn to pitch stories to the media, develop backgrounders and media lists using CisionPoint—one of the most comprehensive media databases on the market available to students through our participation in Cision's University program—and provide media training to real-life clients. And you’ll enroll in our PR Campaigns capstone course.

PR campaigns capstone

In the PR capstone, you’ll provide public relations services and consulting to a client. But it’s more involved than your typical senior project. In a team made of PR and Advertising students, you’ll participate in client meetings, generate reports, conduct research, develop strategies, write media plans, and pitch concepts. The clients change from year to year, but in 2018 students worked with several startups housed at 1871 Chicago. All of the campaign elements you create in this course are excellent samples for your professional portfolio.


Outside the Classroom

We’re all about learning by doing, whether that means interning at a top-notch company or meeting potential employers on a class visit.

Chicago as our classroom

Chicago is a global center of the public relations industry. From major agencies like Golin, Edelman, and Ketchum to smaller boutique firms across the city, the public relations industry is located minutes from Columbia’s campus. That translates into close alumni and faculty connections that you can depend on for internships, jobs, and field experiences.

Chicago Labs: Reputation Partners from Columbia College Chicago on Vimeo.

Public Relations Student Society of America

We also have an active and award-winning chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Collaborating with your creative public relations peers will contribute to your professional success in the future. PRSSA is a preprofessional student organization that regularly hosts events and regional conferences that bring in industry leaders, giving you a chance to network with corporate PR professionals, event management firms, PR agencies, and more.

Career Day

Each October we host Career Day for our students and alumni. Here you’ll take part in a day filled with programming, alumni panels, and structured networking opportunities, making this event an important professional development opportunity for students at any level in our program.


Internships

Beginning your junior year, you’ll have access to internships in Chicago and beyond with companies ranging from globally known media outlets to dynamic startups. Students have interned at Golin, Edelman, FleishmanHillard, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Ogilvy Public Relations, and various startups, nonprofits, and government entities. Columbia students have also taken short-term jobs with New York Fashion Week, Midwest Fashion Week, TEDx Columbia College Chicago, Gold Coast Art Fair, and Chicago Social Media Week.

Our full-time internship coordinators can help you find opportunities and professional environments that complement your coursework—you won’t be getting coffee or making copies all day. We don’t require an internship to graduate, but we highly encourage you to land multiple internships beginning your junior year.


Alumni

Employers recognize the high quality of our programs, and that’s why so many of them hire our alumni. You’ll find our graduates working for top companies and brands like Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, CBS, CULT Denim, Discover Financial Services, Dress Barn, Edelman, Eileen Fisher, Flutter Eyewear, The Grossman Group, Golin, HBO, Marine Bank, McDonald’s, Shedd Aquarium, Silk, SkirtPR, Walmart, WCIU, and many, many more.

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Ebonne Just ’10

Ebonne Just’s PR team has responded to some of the most high-profile celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Cardi B.

Read More



Faculty

Our faculty members are active, seasoned professionals who are thought-leaders in their fields. They have created campaigns for leading communications firms and Fortune 500 clients, written books, organized leading industry conferences, contributed articles to academic and trade journals, and worked as spokespeople for corporations and government agencies.

View all department faculty.