Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Currently, most U.S. multinational companies increasingly rely on international markets for revenue and growth. Public relations professionals, whether they are on assignment in a foreign land or based in the U.S. as part of an international team, must possess the skills to communicate effectively with target audiences from other cultures. The purpose of this study is to better understand the international qualifications and background of instructors teaching international public relations to U.S. undergraduates. This study is based on data collected through telephone interviews with select academic thought leaders in the field of teaching international public relations, and a broad email survey sent to professors and instructors teaching undergraduate university courses in the U.S. A pilot study proceeded the interviews and survey. Research findings indicate that educators teaching international public relations to U.S. undergraduates generally have a solid background for the job, but teaching qualifications are unevenly dispersed throughout their ranks. Notable disparities exist in international professional experience, language skills, and time spent working or traveling in foreign countries. These metrics have been shown to be critical to the understanding and development cultural sensitivity, which is acknowledged as a key ingredient in the success of international public relations. The findings indicate that students are not being consistently taught by instructors with high qualifications. Another key finding was that although academics and professionals recognize the importance of international public relations, no authoritative report has ever been completed on best practices for teaching the necessary skills to undergraduates. However, numerous commissions have reported on teaching basic public relations skills to U.S. undergraduates. A primary conclusion of this study is that by establishing a new commission to focus on identifying instructor qualifications and best practices for teaching international public relations academia and the industry could craft guidelines and a create a groundwork that would result in improved instruction and better prepared public relations professionals. If established, a new commission could focus on guidelines for making instructor qualifications more consistent, encouraging development of new textbooks, and developing recommendations or resources to help instructors stay up-to-date on developments in international public relations.