Strategic Public Relations Degree Requirements

The Strategic Public Relations program follows an innovative approach to building professional credentials that will position you to excel in this challenging profession. You’ll master core public relations skills and the practical application of strategic thinking. The program is flexible with only seven required courses and three electives, including the option to participate in GSPM’s unique Global Perspective Residency programs. All courses are three credit hours unless otherwise noted. 

Successful public relations professionals wear many hats, from marketing and public affairs to internal and external communications and advocacy. GSPM's Strategic Public Relations masters's degree prepares you to develop a comprehensive communications strategy that integrates an organization's marketing, social media, and public relations objectives in order to maximize impact. 

Required Core Courses

PSPR 6201 Public Relations Principles & Practices
PSPR 6202 Advanced Writing for Communications Professionals
PSPR 6203 Research Methods for Public Relations & Public Affairs
PSPR 6204 Media Relations in the New Media World
PSPR 6205 The Business & Budgeting of Public Relations
PSPR 6206 Ethical Standards in Public Relations & Public Affairs
PSPR 6300 Public Relations & Public Affairs Capstone Research Project

Elective Courses

PSPR 6207 – Sustainability Communications

The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement is a worldwide phenomenon and corporations, trade associations, and non-profits are being asked to step up and be accountable. Public relations and communications professionals need to develop the skills to prepare strategic communications plans that reflect their organization's commitment to CSR and enhance their employer's reputation in the global marketplace.

This course will examine the global CSR movement, explore the unique communications challenges it presents and offer practical suggestions and tactics to respond to this trend. The class will feature in-class activities, current research, and guest speakers from NGOs, communications firms, and major corporations with practical advice on meeting this challenge in the global marketplace. We will utilize case studies, professional journals, and original research to explore the topic and develop a comprehensive CSR communications strategy as the capstone project for the class.

PSPR 6208 – Integrated Marketing Communications

A New Paradigm for Extending the Reach & Impact of Public Relations & Public Affairs
This course examines the evolution of integrated marketing communications (IMC) as a new paradigm for extending the reach and influence of public relations and public affairs through the use of both traditional and non-traditional communications approaches and technologies. Included in the mix are advertising, direct marketing, customer service, branding, blogs, podcasts, and cause marketing. Students learn about the theoretical and tactical advantages and disadvantages of integrated strategies in for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises, and they design an integrated marketing communications program, making use of both traditional and new media tools and techniques.
(Phillips - Fall 2016)

PSPR 6210 - Nonprofit and Association Communications Strategies

This course is designed to help communicators currently working in or hoping to work in trade associations, nonprofit organizations and labor unions become more effective in the planning and execution of their programs.  By its very nature, this course will be practical and reality-based, with guest speakers dawn from many organizations and communications backgrounds.

So, what does “more effective” mean?  To us, it means understanding the goals, environments, structures, constraints, opportunities and challenges facing organizations, and developing and implementing plans to achieve those goals.  Effective also means working within the limitations communicators often face such as (but by no means limited to): dwindling budgets, divided membership, fragmented boards and hesitant leadership, the decline of traditional news media, the rise of blogs and the surge of social media.

PSPR 6210 - Internal Communications and Change Management

This course examines the continuing and growing importance of internal communications and its impact on the organization. We will explore how to extend the reach and influence of internal communications through engagement with employees. We will also examine the concept of change management and the role of internal communications in managing organizational change.

PSPR 6223 - Public Opinion, Political Socialization and Public Relations 

Through analytical research, first-hand accounts and theoretical constructs, this course explores key questions related to the formation of public opinion and political socialization. More specifically, this course looks at the process by which people view their engagement in public debates and politics and how they acquire and maintain their attitudes, biases, beliefs - in short, their opinions and the decisions they make as a result. Discussion centers on the forces that influence public opinion and political socialization, including the power of the press and its impact on our major institutions. Course goals include developing awareness and critical thinking regarding the role, formation and use of public opinion in contemporary public affairs and public relations; understanding the socialization processes that shape opinion, political and marketplace behavior; and analyzing how communications activities are used in the real world to influence opinion, attitudes and behavior.
(Zingman - Spring 2016)

PSPR 6222 - Multicultural Marketing and Engagement

As multicultural communities increase in size and reach and as diverse institutions gain national prominence, the need for engagement is clear. Today, the general market is necessarily multicultural. The course prepares students for effective and ethical public engagement on behalf of contemporary organizations communicating issues and commitments to diverse audiences and multicultural messages to the general market. From a base of cultural understanding, students will study effective engagement strategies and techniques.

PSPR 6230 - Crisis and Issues Management 

The practice of Issues Management involves the intersection of a number of communications and policy disciplines, including environmental scanning, public policy analysis, public policy advocacy, strategic communications, media relations, grassroots mobilization, coalition management and corporate reputation management. This course will explore all of the approaches in detail and examine ways in which they work together to further the broad strategic goals of organizations.

The course will be conducted as a seminar and will require robust classroom discussion. The goal of the course is to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of the various elements of Issues Management and to equip them with the practical skills needed to shape public opinion and public policy in order to advance organizational goals. 

CPS 6300 – Public Relations & Public Affairs Capstone Research Project

Applying PR & PA Skills and Knowledge to Independent Research
Students apply the knowledge and lessons gained in their courses in a major independent research project on a topic of immediate interest to their current employer or another organization that has a bearing on their professional aspirations. They design the project with the approval of faculty and in cooperation with the staff and management of the organization in question, conducting primary and secondary research, and preparing a publishable quality research paper, incisively elucidating their views and opinions with the goal of building greater understanding about and insight into the project topic.
(Parnell - Spring 2017)  

PMGT 6420  Corporate Public Affairs (3 credits; offered spring every other year)

Exploration of major functional areas in corporate public affairs, with a focus on the political and policy dynamics operating in the United States and other democracies abroad. Development and deployment of appropriate strategy, research, and tactics for corporations managing the complexities related to a global economy and shifting political alliances. (Cohen)

PMGT 6452  Digital Strategy (3 credits; offered fall)

Development of an integrated digital strategy for use in advocacy and electoral campaigns. Introduction to the theoretical concepts, distinctive technologies, applied skills, and managerial challenges associated with digital campaigning. Search engine optimization, GPS, online payment systems, customizing back- and front-end systems to meet strategic goals and budget parameters, working with IT vendors and distance volunteers, legal and cultural considerations in US and other regimes, site rollout and scaling, security and privacy.  NOTE: This is a pre-requisite for all PMGT Digital courses. (Professors I. Koski and S. Zurn)

PMGT 6456  Speechcraft (3 credits; offered fall)

Analysis and techniques used in speechwriting and presentations for public officials and candidates. Managing the political optics and understanding a speech's visual context  and non-verbal communication capabilities (Rose Garden, Oval Office, campaign stump speech, ceremonial occasion, congressional testimony). Modulating speaker style, tone, and pacing, and staging the speech for effect. (Professors D. McGroarty, R. Lehrman)

PSAD 6270 - International Public Relations and Global Advocacy

This course will survey how global public relations strategies are developed and implemented to support advocacy efforts, emphasizing successful case studies and failures.  Students will examine communications theories, and from that study, gain insights into the unique challenges arising from differences in language, culture, politics, and economics worldwide.  An approach that may succeed in Europe, for example, may fail in Asian countries.  Social media technologies are revolutionizing how public relations executives work with stakeholders who have gained tremendous power once limited to those who had the capital to own communications enterprises.  After completing this course, students will:  understand public relations and its role worldwide; develop, implement, and assess a comprehensive global public relations strategy that includes social media technologies; and strengthen writing and presentation skills relevant to public relations roles through group/individual assignments and class discussions.  Students can choose either this course or ADVO 6240 Global Advocacy: Strategies, Tools, and Tactics, depending on their desired track of learning.
(Lerch - Spring 2017)