Expanding Public Relations: APU Welcomes New Communications Professor

Public relations and social media are two of the fastest growing communications sectors of this day and age. Rightfully so, as the two go hand in hand and are widely embraced by the up-and-coming business leaders of the 21 century.

Nearly every company, organization, church, and even small business uses some form of public relations and social media strategy. Such a rapidly growing field requires educating future employees, managers, and directors with the skills needed to excel.

"The field of Public Relations is booming," said Ryan Hartwig, Ph.D., interim chair of the Department of Communication Studies. "The Public Relations Society of America is estimating nearly 60 percent increases in hiring in the field in the next several years."

Azusa Pacific's Department of Communication Studies currently offers a handful of public relations courses, but beginning in 2016-17, a public relations major will be an option for students hoping to propel into the public relations field post-graduation.

"We're well-positioned to design a cutting-edge program that cultivates graduates who will not only find jobs upon graduation, but lead the field in the decades to come," Hartwig said.

A new degree in public relations brings new course options that will complement the existing Public Relations, Advanced Public Relations, and Multimedia Publishing and Design classes. To help teach these courses, this September the department welcomed new a journalism professor with a background in public relations, Ismael Lopez Medel.

At a young age, Medel began working for the photography magazine his family owned—an experience that gave him his first taste of advertising and public relations. In college, Medel traveled through Europe attending press conferences and product presentations while working on advertising campaigns and product strategy projects.

“Strategic communication is the one of the largest growing industries in the United States, especially when you add social media to the mix,” Medel said. “This is a perfect time for a generation of students who are technologically savvy. This may be the last generation that has a window of opportunity to bring social media skills into the industry."

Medel soon realized the growing need for public relations in both the public and private sector, and is working with faculty in the Department of Communication Studies to prepare future professionals to meet this need.

Focused on social media, technology, and creative strategies, the program will explore all elements of public relations. “In this particular moment there is a great need for technology applied to the industry—social media, desktop publishing, web publishing, video editing. Those tools are crucial and our new PR program will facilitate them,” Medel said.

Moving forward, Medel hopes to transmit passion and enthusiasm for the profession. “I hope to be able to share my unique combination of experiences to motivate students to achieve great dreams and face upcoming challenges,” he said. “I want my students to be updated, on top of the profession, the trends, the needs, the technology and to be able to demonstrate their professionalism through a portfolio of pieces and cases to showcase to future employers.”