Combining advertising and public relations courses? — Your Thoughts — asks PRSA

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Larry Litwin’s response below:

Combining advertising and public relations courses

Where I teach there is some interest (driven by the department chair and interim dean, who are advertising people) in combining the principles of advertising and principles of public relations classes into one class. This is due to a belief by the advertising faculty that advertising and public relations are so thoroughly integrated as to no longer need separate classes. The other PR faculty members and I (in the minority) feel this would limit the survey of material in an introductory PR class, eliminating many topics that are the foundation of the profession. We’ve even received feedback from James Grunig that this is a bad idea, because while PR and advertising frequently work together, they are separate, distinct disciplines that should be taught separately.


Samra Jones Bufkins, MJ, APR
Lecturer, Strategic Communications
Mayborn School of Journalism
University of North Texas

Larry’s response:


I fully favor combining public relations and advertising as a major…called…Strategic Communication. However, the two introduction courses must be kept independent. While the two disciplines have similarities, students are not mature enough to compartmentalize and time would not permit going into the depth needed to prepare students for their future profession.

I have had a chance to read the responses and have completed the Fullerton survey. While this may be self-serving, I’d be remiss if I did not mention it. I have authored a book — for both professionals and as a text — that combines public relations and advertising. It is in many colleges. Its 17 chapters (550+ pages) include a chapter on advertising that covers much of what a public relations strategic advisor should know about advertising. It retails for under $39.95 and is available for about $30 to students. I mention the book (“The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook”) only because one of the responses brought up the topic. Please check it out at Much of the royalties (limited as they are) go to Rowan’s PRSSA chapter. By the way…this is an excellent dialog.

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