Auburn’s public relations program was recently ranked third in the nation by Study.com.
The University of Northwestern Illinois and Appalachian State University were the only programs to rank higher than Auburn.
Terri Knight is a lecturer and the associate director of the public relations department. She has been in this role since 2016 and manages multiple components of the program.
Knight has been at Auburn since 2011 and has watched this program develop over the years.
She believed there were many reasons that Auburn received this recognition, one of the most important being the faculty.
“We’ve really elevated the brand in the last several years,” Knight said. “We’ve had a lot of new faculty that have come on, and so, they’ve brought a new, fresh outlook on things.”
Another aspect of the public relations program that Knight believes put Auburn so high is service learning, which gives students an idea of what working in the real world is like.
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“We use real clients in the classroom, and we treat each group like its own agency, so they are really able to build on that,” Knight said.
Additionally, the program has added a number of electives to enhance the breadth of education. These courses include politics and public relations, social media and public relations and international public relations.
Knight said the variety of courses allows students to explore different areas of the field and discover what they are specifically passionate about.
According to Knight, when Auburn received this recognition, the graduates of the program were some of the most excited about it.
“I was so surprised at how many graduates reached out to me to say they were really excited that we were recognized,” Knight said. “I think it’s because they knew the work was great because so many of them are working in the industry.”
Placing third in the nation was also rewarding to students who are currently in the program.
“I think it also helps existing students in understanding that once they put that down on paper and have it on their resume, it’s something that will bring more value to them,” Knight said.
The public relations program has plans to continue growing and improving. The public-relations program has plans to continue growing and improving. Knight mentioned smaller ideas like having more speakers and visiting agencies, as well as larger projects like creating a student-run agency outside of the classroom.
“We want something that’s not inside the classrooms, kind of outside the classrooms," she said. "Other majors have that like The Plainsman or WEGL, so we would like to have that so our students can learn from an advisor and not just a teacher."
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