Smith Launches Public Relations for Business Leaders Pilot
In fall 2012, the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business
joined four other universities in an MBA initiative pilot curriculum called
Public Relations for Business Leaders. This project, in cooperation with
the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), aims to equip students with the
professional communication skills that are essential to leaders today.
The course is led by Ken White, associate dean of MBA and MS programs at the
Smith School, who brings to the role a wealth of knowledge from his career in
public broadcasting, marketing and communications, and leadership development.
“This is a great opportunity for the Smith School to participate in something
that may actually affect curriculum in MBA programs around the world,” says
White. “You don’t get that opportunities like this very often.”
In a survey of 500 CEOs conducted by PRSA, 90 percent of respondents noted that
MBAs lack the necessary skills to manage communication, reputation, and
multicultural understanding in the workplace. In response to this finding,
the foundation of the course is centered on communication strategy, function and
performance, and provides students with the experiential learning and feedback
necessary to grow as confident leaders.
In one project, students prepared “20/20” presentations, which consisted of
20 PowerPoint slides, with 20 seconds of dialogue allowed for each slide.
Presentation topics, decided by each individual, covered a wide range of student
interests and experiences, including volunteering, social impact bonds, the
history of beer brewing, internet memes, travel tales from Dubai and Japan, and
journeys through Brazilian, Venezuelan, Italian, Indian, Siberian, and Slovenian
"I really wanted to pick a topic that allowed me to share an experience that
I might not otherwise get to share in a normal MBA class,” said Andrew Cole, who
shared experiences from his undergraduate studies in Japan. “I wanted it
to be a topic that gave some insight into who I am as a person.”
Luke Lindberg chose a strategic educational topic for his presentation. "I
presented on social impact bonds because they are on the cutting edge of
government financing and bring together the public and private sectors to
achieve community outcomes. I saw this as an opportunity to spread the idea to a
group of future business leaders in hopes that they might engage with it at some
point in their careers."
Throughout the semester, students will have many opportunities to present and
receive feedback from their colleagues, and will finish the coursework with a
written public relations plan for an existing business, startup, or non-profit
organization. You can follow the class discussion on Twitter at
About the Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader
in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the
University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate,
full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive
education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The
school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning
locations in North America and Asia.
Megan Burkhart, MBA Candidate 2013, Smith Media Group