THE EDUCATION OF PUBLIC RELATIONS STUDENTS ON PUBLIC RELATIONS THEORIES: AN INVESTIGATION ON THE CURRICULUM OF PUBLIC RELATIONS DEPARTMENTS OF COMMUNICATION FACULTIES IN TURKEY
Intermedia International e-journal
Since public relations is based on communication management, it is a field of social science which must vastly utilize theoretical work and practice. Theories provide with placing public relations on a scientific ground; they also supply the vocabulary that academics and public relations practitioners need in order to work in the field, to develop the field and to make predictions. Utilizing theories in the public relations field helps to determine right targets within the framework of rational
... amework of rational paradigms, and to bring about the successful realization of actions by presenting effective strategies and tactics. This study examines the relationship between public relations and the contingency approach. In the era of digital revolution, where technological advances gained momentum, contingency approach emphasizes the understanding that with better analysis and perception of the environment in which the organization located, the senior management make better decisions, and different strategies and tactics should be used in order to be successful under different conditions and that this approach also reveals that there is no organizational structure and form of administration valid everywhere and in all conditions. This study also reveals to what extent the curriculum of Public Relations Departments of Communication Faculties in Turkey includes courses on Public Relations theories. The population of the study is all the universities in Turkey that incorporates Communication Faculties, and the sample is Communication Faculties that incorporates Public Relations Departments. The undergraduate curriculum in the websites of Faculties is analyzed through content analysis method, one of the approaches of qualitative data analyses. As a result, it is found out that there are 200 actively operating universities in Turkey, 60 of these universities at stake have Communication Faculties, 1 of them have Communication Sciences Faculty, 4 out of these 61 faculties (30,5%) continue to build up the necessary academic staff and substructure to start education. It is exposed that there are about 46 (80,7%) active "Public Relations" Departments out of 57 active Communication Faculties. It is revealed that 9 (19,5%) out of 46 Public Relations Departments have courses about the public relations theories in their curriculum. the perception of the strategy and management of sustainability, the meaning attributed to the corporate reputation, emotional perceptions and associations created on the public opinion, the adoption and practice of the theory/theories of the senior management. Public relations practitioners' knowledge of basic social theories that affect public relations discipline laid the ground for being able to relate theory and practice, and execute this relationship. At the present time, the persuasion of people requires a deep accumulation of knowledge in the field of social sciences. And this also indicates the requirement for the social sciences in the public relations education. Sociology and behavioral sciences in general and attitudes, persuasion, propaganda, theories of learning, group dynamics, public opinion polls, consumer behavior, analysis of target audience, reception/effect studies in private should be offered in public relations curriculum (Van Het Hof & Tuncer, 2011, p. 139). With the its practices and strategies developed public relations need to participate in the decision-making processes at the highest level in terms of corporate communication. (Güllüpunar, 2015, p. 33). Therefore public relations practitioners should be given a training that will provide with them both theoretical and practical knowledge and skill. Public relations practitioners, who as a result of their training need to have a strategic perspective and global vision, and must be competent in public relations and communication theories, corporate communication, communication management, research methods and analysis, consumer behavior, effective communication skills, project management, international and intercultural communication, crisis management, new communication technologies, media and new media literacy, copywriting, conversation and writing skills in a foreign language. This study discusses the relationship between contingency approach and public relations field having a proactive attitude that foresees, predicts and protects probable trends, risks, and threats, and that public relations having a visionary line in learning from new developments in political, economic, social and technological environment and benefiting effectively from the changes. This study also discusses how a management mentality appropriate for the contingency approach, which emphasizes the best and the ideal may change according to the conditions and situations that one is in, is influential and efficient in the strategic decision-making process. This study addresses how public relations practitioners become more active in their roles in the management process if they have a strong background on how to use which theory in the public relations field. This study also puts forth to what extent the curriculum of Public Relations Departments of Communication Faculties in Turkey includes courses on public relations theories.