Have you ever wondered how brands amass such a large cult-like following? How do they deal with unwanted situations, such as Dove’s apology for their advertisement of a black woman turning into a white woman after using the product?
This is the magic of public relations — using strategies and effective communication to garner media attention and help brands in times of crisis.
This comprehensive guide on Public Relations reveals everything you need to know about the course in Malaysia and will hopefully help you determine if it is right for you.
#1. The Basics of Public Relations
a) What is Public Relations?
Public Relations (PR) is the act of effectively communicating, influencing and generating positive perceptions of an individual, a brand or an organisation. It also involves safeguarding the reputation of companies, making it essential for most brands and organisations.
For example, the successful opening of IKEA Cheras in November 2017 saw the home furnishing giant achieving front cover and lead stories in prominent publications, with the hashtag #IKEACheras topping the trending chart on Twitter! This is thanks to the hard work of the public relations team that worked tirelessly to secure media coverage on behalf of IKEA.
As a public relations specialist, you will be required to draft and disseminate press releases to the media, organise publicity events for brands or organisations, manage bad press and PR crises, and produce other promotional material that would help your clients.
#2. Studying a Public Relations Degree
a) Entry Requirements & Qualifications
To study Public Relations, you are required to meet the entry requirements set by colleges or universities.
(i) Diploma in Public Relations
If you are planning to pursue a Diploma in Public Relations, these are the general entry requirements that you are required to meet:
- SPM / O-Level: Minimum of 3 credits, including English
- UEC: Minimum of 3Bs, including English
A Diploma in Public Relations typically takes about 2 to 2.5 years to complete.
Upon completion, you can choose to join the working world or further your studies to a Degree in Public Relations, entering from the second year onwards.
(ii) Degree in Public Relations
To pursue a Degree in Public Relations, you need to complete your SPM or an equivalent qualification and a pre-university programme.
The requirements for a Public Relations Degree are:
- A-Level: Minimum 2 passes; or
- STPM: Minimum 2 passes; or
- Australian Matriculation: Minimum average of ATAR 55; or
- Foundation in Arts or Foundation in Science: Minimum CGPA of 2.00; or
- Diploma: Minimum CGPA of 2.00
In addition to that, you will also need a minimum of 3 credits in SPM, including English.
A Degree in Public Relations is usually 3 years long.
During the course, you will develop knowledge in Public Relations and the basics of other Mass Communication subjects (e.g. Advertising, Broadcasting, Media Studies). You will learn to apply media and communication theories to execute strategies successfully as well as communicate effectively.
b) How Does Your Education Pathway Look Like?
Upon the completion of your SPM or equivalent qualification, you can opt to enrol into a pre-university (STPM, A-Level, etc.) or Foundation in Arts programme. Alternatively, you can also choose to pursue a Diploma in Public Relations.
Completing a pre-university or a foundation programme will enable you to proceed to a Public Relations Degree.
c) What Will You Study in Public Relations?
Public Relations Degrees are designed to provide you with a wide range of knowledge and skills related to the communications field upon graduating.
Here are some of the subjects you may cover:
- Introduction to Mass Communication
- Media Writing
- Visual Design Communication
- Principles of Public Relations
- Crisis Management
- Media Relations
- Media and Communication Laws
- Public Opinion and Persuasion
Typically, you are exposed to the basics of communication theory, media writing and other specialisations (e.g. advertising, marketing, broadcasting) in your first year. Subsequently, you will cover more PR-related subjects (e.g. crisis management, media relations).
At some universities, you may be required to undergo industrial training or internships as part of the university’s degree programme. This helps you obtain practical experience to better understand and apply what you have learnt in university.
#3. Why Should You Study Public Relations?
If you enjoy meeting new people and like the idea of helping brands grow through different channels, then a Degree in Public Relations might be for you!
Here are some traits that would make you suitable for this course.
(a) You like people
Do you enjoy meeting new people and have a positive personality? This career requires you to be friendly, sociable and approachable, and also be proficient at building relationships with the media, influential people and other brands. As part of this, you can also look forward to attending various events such as product launches, media conferences and media events.
(b) You have excellent writing skills
To excel in public relations, you also need to have the ability to communicate well in the written form. Whether it’s a finely-crafted press release, an engaging social media post or a compelling email requesting for publicity, your success can depend on how well you can write!
(c) You’re interested in current trends
In order to best advise your clients when proposing ideas, you’ll need to be on top of the latest issues, news and trends. For example, staying in the loop when a new magazine or lifestyle website has launched will ensure that you reach out to them when promoting your client.
#4. What Skills Do You Need for a Public Relations Course?
Here are some of the key skills and qualities you need to develop to do well in a Public Relations programme.
(a) Ability to communicate effectively
Public Relations is all about communicating with your clients, the media and the masses — you will need to be an excellent listener and presenter. This means having to translate industry jargon into layman terms so that your audience who aren’t in the industry will understand it better.
(b) Ability to work under pressure and within strict timelines
As a PR specialist, you will be presented with different challenges and situations that you’ll need to troubleshoot with minimal issues and within a short frame of time. Expect to work around the clock to handle matters effectively, especially for time-sensitive crises.
(c) Good analytical and critical thinking skills
Problem-solving is part and parcel of public relations. You will need to exercise strong analytical skills to understand the demands of your target audience, which means monitoring consumer behaviour both offline and online. You will also need to identify, address and solve complex issues.
#5. What Career Options Do You Have with a Public Relations Degree?
Public Relations graduates can seek employment opportunities from a wide range of industries in consultancy and in the media.
Here are some careers that you can seek upon graduating:
- Public relations executive
- PR and corporate communications executive
- Media relations officer
- Marketing communications executive
- Social media executive
#6. Where Can You Study Public Relations in Malaysia?
If Public Relations is right up your alley, then check out some of the best universities to study Public Relations in Malaysia.
Bachelor of Mass Communication (Hons) (Public Relations)
Campus: Subang Jaya, Selangor
Intakes: Jan, Mar, Jun & Aug
Estimated Fees: RM93,000
Scholarships: Up to 100% tuition fee waiver
Hands-on exposure to real campaigns and real clients through the student-formed agency, proPassion Communication
Dual-award degree with University of West England (UWE), UK, with an option to transfer to UWE in the final year
Mix and match modules depending on your strengths and passions through the new Taylor’s Curriculum Framework
Bachelor of Communication (Hons) Public Relations
Campus: Kampar, Perak
Intakes: Jan, May & Oct
Estimated Fees: RM39,660
Scholarships: Up to 100% tuition fee waiver
Gain in-depth understanding of various communication theories and how they can be applied to the real world
Ranked top 100 in the Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2018, coming in at 99 and placing at No. 2 in Malaysia
Affordable tuition fees
Bachelor of Arts (Hons) English & Public Relations
Campus: Kota Damansara, Selangor
Intakes: Feb, May, Jul, Sep & Oct
Estimated Fees: RM55,600
Scholarships: Up to 100% tuition fee waiver
Double major degree with a dual award from the University of St Mark & St John (MARJON)
Arms you with strategies and practices of successful public relations campaigns