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Public Relations

Successful journalists and public relations professionals are effective communicators, people-oriented, analytical and curious about the world, with wide- ranging interests. Most entry-level jobs require a bachelor's degree.

Hood College offers a broad-based, future-oriented communication arts degree program that builds skills in the basics of journalism and public relations, as well as in visual media and digital technology. The program of studies also prepares graduates to succeed in related careers such as sales and marketing.

Students have opportunities to create a portfolio of professional work through internships and volunteer assignments. Hood's goal is to prepare students to adapt and thrive in the converging media environment of the 21st century.

Course of Studies

The communications field today demands that professionals be prepared to integrate visual, spoken and written messages in an evolving mix of media. The core emphasis of Hood's communication arts major is to teach every student how to tell compelling stories using all of these media platforms.

The communication arts major provides strong preparation for careers in journalism and public relations, with an intensive focus on writing, research, interviewing and editing. In addition, Hood teaches students to use other communications tools that are essential for the new breed of mobile journalists, known as "mojos." Students develop skills in shooting and editing video, writing blog and using social media tools for online reporting and posting fast-breaking news to the web. Public relations courses hone writing skills and offer the opportunity to develop a media campaign for an outside client. Courses also delve into communications theory, the history of the communications field and the ethical questions and concerns journalists and public relations specialists face daily.

Hood faculty members are excellent teachers who have extensive experi- ence as successful communications professionals. They provide individual attention and direction, helping students develop personal and profes- sional strengths and more clearly define career goals.

Opportunities for Practical Experience

Internships are required, and Hood students have found placements in the Frederick-Baltimore-Washington, D.C., region, as well as in other areas of the U.S. and even abroad. Journalism internships can be in the print, online or broadcast fields. Students have completed internships at area newspapers such as the Frederick News-Post and at radio and television stations including XM-Sirius Radio, WHAG-TV (Hagerstown, Md., NBC affiliate), WYPR-FM in Baltimore (NPR affiliate) and WFMD- AM News in Frederick. Students also have gained experience at Maryland Life magazine, National Geographic online, Frederick Magazine, Press Box magazine, 270-Inc. business magazine, Virginia-Maryland Dog magazine and Hagerstown magazine. Public relations students have interned at the Downtown Frederick Partnership, the Interfaith Housing Alliance, WFMD/WFRE radio, global public relations firm Weber Shandwick and Celebrate Frederick.

There also are many opportunities on the Hood campus to apply class- room learning to real-world situations. All students, from freshman year on, may work on the student newspaper, led and staffed by student report- ers, photographers and editors. Some students gain broadcast experience by producing their own programs on the student-run Internet radio sta- tion. Many join the Public Relations Student Society of America chapter at Hood.

Faculty members and Hood's career center staff help students find oppor- tunities that match their interests and goals.

Success of Hood Graduates

Recent Hood graduates are employed at newspapers, radio and television stations, public relations and advertising firms, corporations, nonprofits and in other settings. Our alumni include an education reporter for the Martinsburg Journal; a county government reporter at the Howard County Times; a producer at Fox 35 News in Orlando, Fla.; a reporter for Fox 45 News in Baltimore; a Business Day assistant editor at The New York Times; an assistant editor at the National Naval Medical Center Journal; an assistant account executive at Weber Shandwick; and the communications director for the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce.

In addition, many of our graduates have chosen careers as communi- cations specialists, law enforcement analysts, event planners and real estate professionals. Others have earned advanced degrees, primarily in journalism and law. Recent graduates are studying at Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University; University of Missouri; Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University; and University of Richmond Law School.

Job Outlook

Hood faculty anticipate an increasing demand for multi-platform jour- nalists who can produce visual and written content for web-based publi- cations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides information on traditional journalism careers, predicting job growth of 10 percent in broadcast news careers by 2020, little change in jobs for publications edi- tors, and an eight percent decline in jobs for reporters and correspondents. According to the BLS, by 2020 employment of public relations specialists is expected to grow 23 percent and jobs for public relations managers will increase 16 percent. Marketing/advertising positions will increase 14 percent and jobs for sales managers will rise by 12 percent.

The BLS reports median pay in 2010 was $54,100 for broadcast news analysts; $51,470 for editors; $34,530 for reporters and correspondents; $57,550 for public relations specialists; and $91,810 for public relations managers.The median salary for advertising and marketing managers was $108,260 and for sales managers, $98,530. (These figures reflect salaries of experienced as well as entry-level employees).

Resources for More Information About Careers

The Society of Professional Journalists (www.spj.org), founded as Sigma Delta Chi, is dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior.

The Public Relations Society of America (www.prsa.org), a leading voice in the industry, provides training, sets standards of excellence, upholds principles of ethics for the global public relations profession and advo- cates for greater understanding and adoption of public relations services.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 edition (www.bls.gov/ooh) provides an overview of jobs in the field and the employment outlook for the coming decade.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why prepare to be a journalist or public relations professional at Hood rather than at a school that specializes in these fields?

Hood College offers several advantages in preparing for a career in journalism or public relations at Hood College. A professional entering the rapidly evolving communications field must have the knowledge and flexibility to adapt to changes we cannot now envision. Hood's academic program is designed to prepare students for success today and in the future.

Hood's communication arts major provides broad-based preparation so that students have the skills needed by traditional practitioners, as well as familiarity with a spectrum of visual and digital communications tools that will serve them well in a wide range of related fields. They also gain historical and theoretical understanding of the field. Students are required to complete a carefully selected core courses, and choose electives―in communication arts and other departments at Hood―that match their particular interests and career goals. Hood also offers a variety of practical, hands-on experiences so that students have exposure to working in differing settings within their chosen field and can build a portfolio of professional work.

The skills taught in Hood's journalism and public relations program are transferrable to many other communications-related fields, including sales and marketing.

Hood also provides an exceptional level of individual attention, in small classes taught by faculty members who have significant experience in their fields.

What kinds of jobs are available for entry-level journalists and public relations professionals?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that most journalists work for newspapers, magazines and television or radio stations. Public relations professionals are employed by private and public organizations, as well as by public relations firms, to create and maintain a favorable image for their employer or client. Hood's communication arts major also prepares students for careers such as sales and marketing. While many of our graduates are working in traditional journalism and public relations careers, others are employed as law enforcement analysts, event planners and real estate professionals. Several recent graduates have enrolled in law school.

What's the future job outlook for journalists and public relations professionals?

Multi-platform journalists who can produce visual and written content for web-based publications are in growing demand, offsetting the expected contraction of some traditional journalism jobs. While openings for reporters and correspondents are predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)to decline eight percent by 2020, jobs for broadcast analysts are predicted to increase 10 percent and little change is expected in publications editing jobs.

According to the BLS, employment of public relations specialists is expected to grow 23 percent and jobs for public relations managers will increase 16 percent by 2020. The BLS predicts that jobs in marketing/advertising will increase 14 percent and jobs for sales managers will rise by 12 percent.

Learn more about the major.