Posted by: Rajiv Harjai | April 8, 2007

Only people with PR Degrees, should be hired for PR Jobs

PR Education debates are happening all around the PR blogshpere. Last month the Indian PR blogsphere was all over PR education and now in the British PR blogsphere, a debate has sparked off, after a student (from my university) sent a letter to PR Week.


The debate is that do you need a PR degree to get a PR Job? My loyalties lie towards the qualifications side. I strongly agree with the idea that PR degree holders should be the first in line to be entitled to PR jobs. “It should be a must.”


My perspective stems from the very simple equation that with a degree one can attain work experience. However with work experience you cannot gain theoretical knowledge. No matter how many years of work experience a person might have, it will never enlighten him to the theoretical aspects of the job that can only be mastered through a specialized educational degree.

I completely fail to understand the hue and cry (like TWL) over whether PR degree holders should be the only ones to be entitled to a PR job. Hasn’t the world already awoken to the notion of specializations in every field, which are now considered the order of the day. Isn’t it true that you need to hold an MBA degree for a management job, a teaching credential to become a teacher, a journalism degree to become an editor. So why should it be any different for PR degree holders. I think it’s only fair enough that only PR degree holders should be considered for PR jobs.

Stuart Bruce puts it well when he says “One of the big benefits of PR degrees is that they try to equip students with the ability to see the big picture and understand PR in context. They also teach the basics of many skills needed…”

I can challenge any student today who doesn’t have a PR degree to do better than me in this field. I just think it is not possible. The knowledge I have acquired about PR history campaigns, current affairs of PR, is so much more than a student who does not have a PR degree. I don’t think that a person studying English as a major would be interested in current affairs or history of PR neither will He/she start learning the strategies to organize a campaign. It is just not going to happen.

These days I am organizing a campaign on social media, and trust me it is not as easy as it sounds. I am sure that a person from journalism or any other major will not even know about the ideas and strategies I am using. He will be better than me in only one thing, which could be writing (Not to be boastful), but I doubt mine and my fellow PR students witting skills are any less competitive.

Lastly, No matter how many years of work experience (without specialized qualification) one might put into a PR job, he can only specialize or master aspects of PR that he has worked on. This cannot beat the person who has attained qualifications through the highly structured and extensive curriculum taught in a PR degree course.

Any PR companies hiring people today, should consider what I have said above.

Continued in my next post as well – The Uproar over PR credentials



  1. Strong stuff, Rajiv! You have certainly got the foundations of a good blogger… being prepared to stick your neck out and stand by your word.

    I would disagree that only people with PR degrees can succeed in PR.

    I have a BA in English and a MA in Modern Literature 😉 as mentioned in your post and yet I have an insatiable thirsdt for current affairs, international affairs, politics etc… that’s why I never made it to a PhD and ended up working in PR.

    PR is also about so much itself; and way more than any degree could teach you about. For instance I’m currently studying for the CIPR’s diploma which teaches you all about startegy and academic theory. Great stuff but without practical experience you would never realise that Grunig’s theories don’t get a look in when the client’s on the phone demanding results NOW!

    You must also realise too that the CIPR has a vested interest in pushing PR courses – they make money out of it!

    A final point to consider is that most the industries leading figures – and those who founded this relatively moden sector – are almost all without formal PR qualifications.

  2. Simon, I agree with you that the practitioners who found PR, and many great practitioners till date don’t have PR degrees, but then PR is a fairly new profession. I also agree with you that qualification alone is not enough, experience plays a great role in a person’s success, but specialized education will always have an advantage.

    You are also enrolled in a CIPR diploma currently after your degree in English Literature. 😉 I mean PR education does provide a structure, which is specialized. It has an ‘advantage.’

    If CIPR is pushing for this issue, they have an agenda for it, it’s not going to benefit only CIPR, the students, CIPR members, PR as a profession will benefit. ME, YOU AND OTHER THOUSANDS of professionals…

    Furthermore, by doing this, PR professionals will be at par with LAWYERS, CA, DOCTORS etc… These are professional degrees, chartered degrees and specialized jobs. Don’t you want PR to be in that category, at that level?

  3. Ha! I don’t believe PR will be like law or medicine – at least in the short term. It is a far too broad industry. Perhaps by limiting the scope of certain PR functions eg. corporate or financial comms we can get a grip on what is and isn’t acceptable. But in a sector where people like Max Clifford are practicing PR professionals law won’t come close!

  4. I agree with you… you can further read my comments on my new post.

  5. Rajiv,

    I don’t believe PR is a profession. When I was a journalist I didn’t believe that was a profession either – it was a trade. Indeed, we did not take professional qualifications. Doing NCTJ was closer to doing an apprenticeship – after university you signed away two years of you life to learn your trade: shorthand 100 words per minute, newspaper law and doing loads of really boring jobs.
    As David Brain of Edelman said to me once: “PR is not a profession it is a knack”. Once you start talking to journalists you will discover this is the case.


  6. Ian, Thanks for dropping by…

    I really think that was the old saying “PR is not a profession, it is a Knack” but now with the new education system, and thanks to many great practitioners this profession has eaten into the advertising and marketing sector and has rising at a phenomenon rate. So much so that now some companies don’t even hire marketing companies anymore, they are happy with Public Relations.

  7. Hmmm. I think it’s a risky business linking to increased formal PR education and its growth as a sector. The growth is argubly more linked to what society and consumers want rather than PR being a more formally educated sector.

  8. I would have to disagree with you however I wish you much luck with your career and I’m sure you’ll do quite well. You mentioned that “with work experience you cannot gain theoretical knowledge” and to me that implies that strategic skills are primarily gained by reading text books and drafting responses that your professors want to hear. Isn’t most theoretical and strategic knowledge gained through real business experience?

    PR embraces much more than just social media however I do agree that social media is incredibly useful when applied in an approapriate situation.

    I graduated with a doube major in international relations and Spanish and would welcome your challenge. My degree has equipped me with a broad understanding of the business and communications field and I am happy that I don’t have tunnel vision.

  9. Lara, thank you for your wishes. That was a very nice gesture.

    It’s not about tunnel vision. My point on this that PR education gives you an edge over other majors if you are entering the ‘World of PR.’

    Furthermore, My vision is much broader taking into consideration that my ultimate goal is not for me, but it is for this profession called PR. I would like that people working in PR at a level much higher than they currently are.

  10. Too good to ignore. And better late than never.

    As someone who spent 17 years on daily newspapers, then moved into PR (initially without a Degree and now with a PhD) I can categorically state you do not need a degree to do PR.

    Yes. It is a knack. And it’s about common sense, nouse and contacts.

  11. That should read “nous”.

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