News at Smith

Smith MBA Leads in Strategic Communications

Sep 18, 2013
Experiential / Reality-based Learning


COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Public Relations Society of America is rolling out an MBA-Level Strategic Communications Course and credits the Robert H. Smith School of Business for supporting the launch. 

A PRSA white paper highlights Smith, along with four other leading business schools, for “best practice” performance in an innovative pilot program that is the foundation of the forthcoming course and a broader call-to-action for B-schools to add strategic communications and reputation management course work to their curricula. 

Smith has been joined in the pilot program for teaching strategic communications at the MBA level by Tuck at Dartmouth, the Kellogg School at Northwestern University, the College of Business at the University of Texas-El Paso and the School of Business at Quinnipiac University.

“Corporate recruiters and CEOs tell us they’re seeking MBAs who possess high quality communication skills on strategic and tactical levels,” said Ken White, Ph.D., associate dean of MBA and MS Programs at the Smith School. “Hopefully, thanks to our participation in the pilot and our work with PRSA, other business schools will see the great value in such a course.”

PRSA also announced three launch schools that will offer the course during the 2014-2015 academic year. The launch schools include Syracuse University, which will offer the course via an innovative partnership between the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Whitman School of Management, Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University and Opus College of Business at University of St. Thomas. These schools will offer the PRSA-designed reputation management coursework as part of their MBA curricula. 

“We are not only thrilled that these three launch schools have agreed to offer our course, but that this program is flourishing and growing,” said PRSA Chair and CEO, Mickey G. Nall, APR, Fellow PRSA and Managing Director, Ogilvy PR, Atlanta. “Communications is a vital part of any successful business; learning effective communications skills and strategies will benefit MBA students greatly in their future careers.” 

PRSA encourages business schools across the country to integrate the MBA-Level Strategic Communications Course into its regular course offerings to students. The course offers strategic and communications management instruction to students in an effort to help them better understand the importance and value of these skills as they pertain to business. 

Smith MBA Highlighted in White Paper

The following is an excerpt from the newly released PRSA white paper, ‘Bridging the gap between strategic communications education and master of business administration curriculum’:

“Many Smith School students bring work experience in the corporate, government and nonprofit realms of the Washington, D.C./Maryland/Virginia area to their academic pursuits.  As a result, Maryland Associate Dean of MBA and MS Programs Ken White, Ph.D., said the need for a course in strategic communications provided a compelling opportunity. In fact, Smith School of Business professors reported that meetings with the business community often included a lament that graduating MBAs lacked communications skills. After learning of the program through his affiliation with PRSA, White set out to gain approval from the Marketing Department of the School of Business for a spring 2013 class. The curriculum rapidly gained approval from the business school, with 27 students initially enrolled in the course. The participants included MBA students in their second year of a full-time program. In addition to the corporate communications and reputation management dimensions, students also learned media relations and public speaking skills. Students visited with a professional media trainer and learned executive skills for navigating a multimedia environment. Students participated in case study analysis, including both positive and negative perspectives, to identify companies that deftly handled communications crises and ones in which the corporations faltered. Based on positive feedback from the innovative offerings, White anticipates the formation of a Communications Center at the Smith School.”

About the University of Maryland's 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, online MBA, specialty masters, 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.