Published: Dec. 18, 2015
Erin Schauster

Blurred boundaries between advertising and public relations professions due to new roles in social media raise the question of whether educators can adequately prepare their students for a career in those growing fields, according to a new study by Erin Schauster, an assistant professor of advertising at CU-Boulder.

Schauster and her co-author—Marlene S. Neill, an assistant professor at Baylor University—interviewed 29 executives in advertising and public relations agencies to identify emerging trends and their impact on advertising and public relations education. The executives worked throughout the United States in public relations agencies, advertising agencies, digital agencies, an integrated marketing communication agency, a media planning and buying agency and as consultants.

Schauster and Neill found that while traditional advertising and public relations skills, such as writing and presentation, remain foundational, other skills are now necessary for success in both fields. Areas of deficiency among recent graduates included math skills and business skills; budgeting; applying business vocabulary; and understanding business challenges. In addition, new roles in today’s workforce include content amplification of earned media, native advertising, online community management, programmatic buying, social listening and social media analytics.

“We concluded that as public relations executives begin pursuing more paid online media strategies, they may need additional training in media planning and buying, particularly in the areas of programmatic buying, search engine optimization and search engine marketing,” Schauster said. “Likewise, as advertising executives assume online community management roles, they may need additional training in issues and crisis management.”