Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Time to Make the Universities Honest

I have been noticing courses being advertised by universities claiming to offer 'Public Relations' when it is obvious that they can offer nothing of the sort.

For example:

Marketing, Advertising and Communications
This programme is designed to equip you for a career as a marketing communications specialist in a creative agency or client firm. You’ll gain an indepth understanding of how marketing communications influence society and individuals, developing your talents in areas such as persuasive advertising, e-marketing and public relations.
This description was taken from a four years Honours degree and with the best will in the world, the ability to learn about Marketing, Advertising, Communication, Creativity, Agency Practices, Persuasion, e-marketing (whatever that encompases) and Public Relations is just impossible. It is too much to learn in the time available.

For example, where in this syllabus is the student to learn about the cultural, political, economic and social relevance of reputation? Is this going to include a study of the literature of cultures in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society; psyphology, representation of the people and government including local, regional, national and supra national representative politics; macro and micro economics including the corporate finance and investor relations and the nature of society and social interaction? When it comes to e-commerce, which part of the 20% of retailing will the student learn as it grows to be 34% by the time they graduate?

While I personally disagree with this as of any real substance, the Darren Lilleker mantra that political campaigning now comprises informing, mobilizing  harvesting data and interacting would not figure in the majority of courses advertised.  After all, what is the worth of PR as part of the most expensive national election ever?

That part of the Marketing course will also have to be integrated with theory and PR skills education together with a similar amount of work for the other subjects. many of them are part of PR anyway, for example the psychology of persuasion from George and Alfred Tack to social cognitive and affective neuroscience is pretty heavy too.

Of course “Business has only two functions: Marketing and Innovation”  according to Peter Drucker. He had no concept of business Public Relations but a lot of so called public relations is marketed as being part of marketing. Remind me again, how much did BP pay in compensation for the Gulf oil spill? Or, perhaps, how long will the Jimmy Saville slime take to wash off the BBC?

Would marketing courses automatically introduce this paper in a lecture on Corporate Social Responsibility. It says 'Bankers beware - the human brain is unforgiving'. How then, one would ask a student, should the in-house practitioner advise her Board? ).

Of course, these so called graduate courses are full of University Bull Shit.

Not just one University - many of them.

They are designed to deceive vulnerable teenagers. They are not going to teach much about PR.

After all, would you want to employ such a graduate after she has got past her sell by date as Cheap Tweet Labour? What would she know of the world that an ordinary English graduate would not?

Then there is the question as to what a Chartered organisation purporting to represent the practice of Public Relations do about bringing these universities to a realisation of their misrepresentation?