The recently announced changes at Bournemouth University about some very major changes to its public relations degree programmes are a signal of important dynamics in the PR industry. As Bournemouth announced that several of its business programmes are due for a “phased closure” – including hospitality management, advertising and indeed Public Relations itself – it can be seen as a symptom of overall changes in the industry. In fact, Bournemouth doesn’t just happen to run a PR degree programme at the moment. The university since the early 1990s has been a pioneer of public relations education in the UK and Europe. It has produces some famous graduates, major publications and some significant PR-academic events. The shift to a more universal marketing degree (which would still include a specialisation option or at least a set of courses on PR) comes as many PR degrees face declining student and numbers.
related courses such as journalism, business administration or marketing are not facing the same pressure – and I see it as a reasonable consolidation tendency. I have always argued in favour of a more holistic approach to corporate communications – in which marketing and PR play a role within many different sub-disciplines (although arguably it is an important and popular role). I even forecast a further consolidation, as universities will start to include even marketing itself directly into the corporate communications umbrella programmes, as it is key to any corporate communications activity to make sense within a bigger framework, i.e engaging specific stakeholders with specific objectives in a complex multi-disciplinary context that only a holistic approach to corporate communications can accommodate.