The picture of advertising and public relations education that has emerged from this study represents a panorama skills, knowledge, and experience that are taught to students. This study examined questions of program effectiveness through four key areas—a) curriculum model, b) core skills, c) experiential learning, and d) practitioner and educator partnerships—through the perspective of award-winning agencies and university programs. This research found that there is a lack of focus when viewing pedagogy through the lens of the industry needs. From a distance, the picture appears to show harmonious composition between industry needs and education objectives, but closer inspection of the fine details reveal certain imperfections that may affect the appraised value of advertising and public relations education. This issue of misalignment between industry needs and education practice is not new, but one that should be continuously addressed to ensure the success of new graduates as advertising and public relations practitioners.
In the context of the preferred curriculum model of advertising and public relations pedagogy, this study found that there is an agreement between practitioners and educators to merge those programs in some fashion, but there was disagreement on the scope of the integration ranging from a limited “hybrid” program to full convergence. An examination of core skills taught in the advertising and public relations curriculum found a misalignment of educational priorities between educators and practitioners. Those differences highlighted the practitioners’ prioritization of: a) business writing over creative writing, b) small group communication and teamwork, c) enhanced critical thinking and research skills, d) a strong foundation of business management knowledge, and e) a repertoire of computer software proficiency. For experiential learning, there was noted support for pre-professional organizations and student agencies to supplement classroom learning, but further value should be placed on student competition participation, along with enhanced internship management practices to protect students’ educational interests. Finally, this study found that there is existing partnership between the industry and academy, but there must be improved efforts to strengthen those relationships to optimally serve the education of advertising and public relations students.