The COM 101 Take on PR

COM 101 is the first requirement for any communication student at Boston University.  As a new freshman this fall, COM 101 was my first taste of the study of communication and, more importantly, public relations. COM 101 gives a basic overview of the communication fields from journalism to advertising, film and TV, and public relations.

On November 15, various PR professors joined our class for a guest lecture on the scope of PR and the many jobs we might potentially find ourselves in one day. Public relations is the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organizational leaders, and implementing planned programs of actions in order to help an organization and its publics adapt to one another. We learned that PR is not precisely defined, as is varies from organization to organization and covers a wide variety of activities.

Here’s the breakdown of what PR people do:

  • Media Relations 88%
  • Online Communication 70%
  • Marketing 65%
  • Special Events 64%
  • Product/Brand Communication 64%
  • Crisis Management 60%
  • Internal Communication 58%
  • Community Relations 58%
  • Reputation Management 47%
  • Investor Relations 26%
  • Annual report 23%


  • Publicity is not advertising because you do not pay for time or space
  • Public relations is a broader task which includes publicity and also involves promotion, public affairs, writing, event planning…

Media Relations

  • Dealing with the media is a major part of PR
  • A PR practitioner’s role is to disseminate company information to its publics
  • Your job in media relations is to pitch and place stories
  • Media professionals have the final say on what information reaches the public, so good relationships with them are key


  • PR strategy and tactics can have a direct effect on sales of a product or service
  • PR speaks to many audiences while traditional marketing speaks only to the consumer

Reputation Management

  • Reputation is an important aspect of PR
  • Perception is reality and needs to be carefully managed
  • Strong correlation between company reputation and company success

Crisis Management

  • PR professionals are a major part of a crisis management team
  • Assist in creating a crisis management plan
  • Crisis management is one of PR’s greatest and most exciting challenges

Online Communication

  • Company websites
  • Online newsletters
  • Marketing emails
  • Employee portals

Social Media

  • Includes Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, etc.
  • Companies create social media platforms and use them as communication tools
  • There are PR specialists who focus solely on social media

Product/Brand Communication

  • Creating a brand or company identity
  • Includes: brand symbols or logos, slogans, acronyms
  • Area of communication where PR and advertising overlap

Investor Relations

  • Communication with a company’s shareholders and prospective investors
  • A major component of a company’s success
  • Combines communication and finance to convey a company’s prospects in terms of investments

Annual Report—key part of investor relations

  • A tool with which to communicate with stockholders and potential investors

Community Relations

  • The interaction between a company and its community
  • Includes company sponsorships and donations, employee volunteering, and community scholarships and awards
  • Helps increase goodwill toward a company or brand
  • Is a major part of public relations when working in the professional sports industry

Event Planning

  • Events created to help promote a company product or brand
  • Includes: product launches, company-sponsored events, media events, and community-related events

Internal Communication

  • Employee newsletters
  • Company portals
  • Human resource materials
  • Memos
  • State of the company addresses
  • Company magazines

Public Speaking

  • Includes media conferences and interviews
  • Coaching a company member or client
  • Briefing the media
  • Acting as a spokesperson for the company
  • Introducing a new product or services

Since completing COM 101, we are now all officially well aware of the many possibilities within the field of communication. It’s important to have a general understanding of all of the careers because many of the fields intertwine and overlap. Overall, the biggest lesson to be taken away is the influence that communication has in today’s world.

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