Dr. Owen Lynch speaks to the SMU CCPA Advisory Board
Dr. Owen Lynch speaks to the SMU CCPA Advisory Board

Hello, aspiring CCPA and PRSC students! With enrollment quickly approaching, questions about the different CCPA majors are swirling.

Fear no more! We have compiled a detailed explanation for each of the tracks in CCPA: Organizational Communication, Political Communication, and Social Innovation and Nonprofit Engagement, as well as Public Relations and Strategic Communication, to help you understand which major is the best fit for you and your career aspirations. Keep reading for information about the majors and jobs each path may lead to from our division chair, Dr. Duhé, herself! Our advice? Double major so you don’t have to choose just one!

Organizational Communication – Dr. Lynch

Organizational communication is internally focused and asks questions such as:

  • Is the organization’s internal design and structure optimal for its operating environment? Are employees engaged, productive, and satisfied with their working environment? Does the organization’s culture support its goals? Are leadership and teamwork practices effective? What roles do gender and power play within the organization? Are employees appropriately developed and trained for the work they do? Is the organization – no matter what type of organization it is (for-profit, nonprofit, governmental) – optimizing human and social capital for its performance? How does organizational behavior (in a collective sense) support or get in the way of the organization reaching its goals?
  • Management consulting focuses on these internal elements. By “internal” we mean what’s going on inside the organization. Org Comm grads also work in employee relations, diversity, and human resources management, among other areas. Dr. Lynch’s and Dr. Earle’s work addressing South Dallas food deserts is a great example of building and sustaining an organization from the ground up and ensuring all the “internal” pieces are optimally designed to be effective in achieving organizational goals.
  • Dr. Lynch provided us with a list of recent alums from his program. Alums of organizational communication range from brand management for Nestle, account executives for the Dallas Stars, Apos, and Blue Prism. Organizational communication can also prepare students to take the human relations route. One alum is currently working in talent acquisition for BCG. Other alums are working in asset management, sales, business management, and marketing.  

Political Communication – Dr. Kirk

  • Political communication focuses on influencing public policy, whether at an organizational, campaign, or governmental level. Public policy affects what organizations can and cannot do, so the focus of political communication is both influence and persuasion on the public, or political, aspects of society.
  • Political communication spans all organizational types, including companies, consultancies, lobbying firms, think tanks, government agencies, elected officials, NGOs, and political campaigns. The practice includes public opinion monitoring, advocacy, issues management, and data analysis.
  • Here is some intel about where recent alums have landed and advice for how to succeed in political communication from Dr. Kirk herself! She explained that “two graduates from last year ended up at the White House working in the Correspondence office; one of them has since left and is now at Commerce working for the Secretary.  We have recent students who have gone campaign side and are part of election teams – both state and national elections.  Within the last 5 years, graduates have worked for think tanks, as House or Senate Press Secretaries or Deputy Press Secretaries, for non-profit advocacy groups in DC, and as researchers.  Over the life of the program, we have had several notable placements – today, one of our alumni is working as the Special Assistant for the Secretary General of the UN; another is working for Ivanka Trump at the White House; another for Gannett News Services; one for Bloomberg. Those that are willing to do the work end up with incredible placements.”

Social Innovation and Nonprofit Engagement – Dr. Dixon

  • Nonprofit organizations are an increasingly important part of civil society because they fill areas not adequately addressed by business and government. Socially innovative organizations that have nonprofit and/or hybrid missions (part for-profit, part nonprofit) are just as important in filling these gaps (think child welfare, public health, food/water supply, education, etc.). Our program prepares grads to design, lead, and/or found social innovation or nonprofit organizations with a focus on social welfare, branding, donor/volunteer/board relations, fundraising and philanthropy, and strategic communication in a variety of mission contexts.
  • Dr. Earle is a former corporate executive turned South Dallas social innovator helping residents become entrepreneurs. If you haven’t yet taken a SINE class, take one to find your social innovation passion! Learn how to pursue your ideas while helping others in a sustainable format.
  • CCPA alums can be found at Akola (founder Brittany Merrill Underwood started her work with Dr. Dixon at SMU), major nonprofits and corporations around the globe, advocacy organizations, and throughout the performing arts in New York, LA, and beyond.

Public Relations and Strategic Communication – Dr. Duhé

  • Public relations is the external side of organizational communication, whereby practitioners focus on serving as the face and voice of an organization and its representative to key stakeholders in its operating environment, including investors, customers, communities, activists, and media. Our program focuses on developing strategic communication programs that support business objectives, including managing crisis effectively and maintaining stakeholder relationships that are critical to an organization’s success.
  • Most people associate public relations only with publicity and working with the news media. Our program has a much broader focus that’s intended to prepare graduates for executive public relations/public affairs leadership in any organization type.
  • Our graduates work in corporations, agencies, and consulting firms, with a variety of titles ranging from account executive to public affairs manager to marketing communications to external affairs. Our grads work with Wells Fargo, Southwest Airlines, Mary Kay, AT&T, Texas Instruments, Hill+Knowlton, PepsiCo, Weber Shandwick, Pierpont Communications, Edelman, and are starting their own firms.

Feel free to email Dr. Duhé or Dr. Lynch, Dr. Kirk. and Dr. Dixon with questions. For inquiries about scheduling and course credits, Mrs. Hewitt is an incredible resource. And, you can set up a Zoom advising appointment with Dr. Duhé here before your enrollment date!