Nadia Mostafa, a public relations and corporate communication alumna and corporate external communication professional at Johnson & Johnson, said there is confusion between publicity and public relations.The NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies changed the name of its Public Relations department to Strategic Communication, Marketing and Media Management last September.
“Clearly in the age of social media, it is virtually impossible to succeed by sharing messages and thoughts without listening and understanding what key stakeholders are saying,” Mostafa said in email. “The distinction between public relations and publicity, then, is an important one.”
Paula Payton, director of the Strategic Communication, Marketing and Media Management program, said the name change of the department shows the evolution that is happening in the communication field.
“Recruiters and hiring managers in the field know that public relations now is part of the communication profession’s evolution toward integrated communication,” Payton said. “The department name change reflects that evolution and, we feel, gives our students a competitive edge.”
Because the department name change did not affect the degree, graduates in the program still earn a master’s degree in public relations and corporate communication. As for whether the department plans on implementing further changes to the content of the major, Payton said the department is consistently reviewing the program to ensure it is up-to-date and matches students’ needs.
“Over the past few years, the department has added new courses in crisis communication, reputation management, critical business skills and social media,” Payton said.
Mostafa said her degree in public relations has not limited her employment opportunities.
“I found it opened a tremendous number of doors for me,” Mostafa said. “Almost every position I have held in communication — from agency to corporate to the public sector — has required a degree (at minimum, undergraduate) in public relations and/or corporate communication.”
Payton said the field of public relations remains relevant today.
“Public relations is not a dead term or function,” Payton said. “If anything, true public relations is more sophisticated and subtle than ever.”
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Feb. 19 print edition. Marita Vlachou is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Correction: A previous version of this article stated graduates in the program still earn a degree in public relations and corporate communication. To clarify, graduates receive a master’s degree.
WSN regrets this error.