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Post-Graduate Certificate in Public Relations

Broadcast your brand. The world is waiting.

Managing a brand’s reputation in the public eye is no simple task. Whether you’re responding to a last-minute media inquiry, dealing with negative publicity, or monitoring the web for newsworthy content, the message is clear: to succeed in public relations, you need to be strategic and quick to adapt to new trends and technology. Top public relations executives agree that career success means being an incredible storyteller and trusted strategic business advisor—Someone who can leverage emerging technologies and critical thinking to build lasting relationships with stakeholders. This shift in skill demands is why top companies are struggling to hire and keep the right public relations professionals.
Public relations jobs have recently grown over 30%
Recruiting + Retaining top talent are the top 2 challenges facing public relations executives
Digital skills are critical for success according to public relations employers

Why Choose York?

UNIVERSITY CREDENTIAL<br /><br /> Add credibility to your resumeUNIVERSITY CREDENTIAL
Add credibility to your resume

REAL-WORLD PROJECTS<br /><br /> Develop core job skillsREAL-WORLD PROJECTS
Develop core job skills

Learn and grow with your peers


“This program is perfect for recent graduates who want to enhance their current skills and desire the opportunity to learn directly from instructors who are currently professionals working in the field.”

Christine Bernard - Instructor, Post-Graduate Certificate in Public Relations

- Christine Bernard, Employee Relations Manager, Air Canada (Instructor)

Use the technology you need to get the public opinion you want

Using the right tools at the right time can mean the difference between a media firestorm or the recruitment of countless new brand influencers to support your cause.

Created in collaboration with industry leaders, the 8 course full-time Post-Graduate Certificate in Public Relations gives you the expertise to broadcast your brand message to the right audience, at the right time, using both traditional and digital media. Real-world project work will give you the chance to learn and practice effective public relations strategies, business principles and stakeholder relationship management, as well as how to respond to crises and manage brand reputation. All this, while building the core job skills that top employers are looking for when hiring for public relations jobs.

You’ll gain in-depth public relations knowledge, including:

  • Public relations fundamentals & strategy
  • Digital storytelling
  • Marketing principles
  • Internal communications
  • Data analytics
  • Effective writing
  • Presentation skills
  • Reputation & crisis management
  • Media relations
  • Stakeholder engagement

In public relations, it’s all about the story. Make sure the story of your career is a success.

“This program uniquely provides students with theoretical foundations for success in communications, reputation and corporate affairs, combined with practical knowledge, real-world insights and best practices. Graduates will have the right blend of skills required to excel as a public relations professional in an evolving industry.”

John Crean

- John Crean, Managing Director, Teneo Holdings (Advisory Council Member)

Who should take this program?

The Post-Graduate Certificate in Public Relations is ideal for recent degree graduates and  international students who want a comprehensive foundation in public relations.

This program can enhance the careers of people with experience or educational background in:


Liberal ArtsLiberal Arts




Political SciencePolitical Science



… and related fields


Program Format

In Ontario, gatherings are restricted, and no university is offering classes in person for the foreseeable future. We have been successfully delivering many of our courses online for years. So please know that you will not be compromising on your learning experience.
When the situation changes and it is once again safe to offer face-to-face instruction, full-time programs will make the transition back into the classroom.
Until then, this program will be offered in our “live online” format which offers students the structure and group interaction of a face-to-face experience without travelling to York’s campus. Our live online classrooms enable students to hear and interact with the instructor and other students like in a normal classroom. Course materials and assessments vary by course but students can expect online articles, videos, practice opportunities, discussion boards, etc to help learn the content.
Please note that each lesson is recorded so students can review them multiple times to ensure they meet the learning objectives. 


Optional Work Placement

After your courses are complete, apply what you’ve learned with an optional 8-week work placement at a local organization!

Statistics Canada has released a series of studies reporting that gaining work experience during student years is linked to securing full-time employment immediately after graduation. “Specifically, among those who had a job related to their field of study during their postsecondary education, 75% were employed full time three months after graduation. This compared with 48% among those who did not have any work experience during their postsecondary education, and 61% among those who did work, but not in their field of study.”

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this program, successful students will be able to…

  • Perform as a public relations/ communications practitioner
  • Plan, initiate and complete a Communications Plan
  • Think strategically and digitally to succeed in today’s marketplace
  • Determine what is newsworthy, coupled with strong writing skills
  • Create content across different channels (print, video, digital, visual, etc.) to engage targeted audiences
  • Handle and respond to incidents, issues, and crises that can threaten an organization’s reputation
  • Make data-driven decisions by using analytics and measurement
  • Apply ethics and industry codes of professional standards to Public Relations
  • Build a portfolio of work to demonstrate their knowledge and skills
  • Practice cross-functional “soft skills” to be more employable and successful in the workplace

Advisory Council

Shari Balga
Account Director, Edelman

Priya Bates
President, Inner Strength Communications

Amy Cairncross
SVP Communications, RBC

John Crean
Managing Director, Teneo Holdings

Nikki Laoutaris
Communications Manager, Lift&Co

Anne MacLennan
Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Communications, York University

Rhonda McMichael
Executive Lead, Strategic Engagement, Government Relations Office, University of Toronto

Joanne Rider
Owner, Rider Communications (former Chief Spokesperson and Director, Media Relations, York University)

Candice So
Senior Communications Manager, Rate Hub


Christine Bernard - Instructor, Post-Graduate Certificate in Public RelationsChristine Bernard, M.C.M

Read interview with Christine

Christine is a results-oriented communications professional with more than seven years of experience, specializing in internal communications. She is currently a Manager for the Employee Relations division at Air Canada and has a firm grasp of corporate messaging, branding, event planning and leadership communications. Christine has always been passionate about the telecommunications industry and enjoys enhancing employee and customer engagement through internal and external communications, along with testing new products and services. She has had success facilitating the development of employee communication initiatives including leadership blogs, vlogs, town halls, emails and speaking notes, as well as identified communication gaps between management and front-line employees. Her work has resulted in new processes that better support internal stakeholders in day to day operations.

Lonny Kates - Instructor, Post-Graduate Certificate in Public RelationsLonny Kates, M.C.M

Lonny is a seasoned communications professional with more than 16 years of experience in public affairs, media relations, project management and strategic communications. He has held various communications positions within the Federal Public Service and is experienced in working with senior executive levels, including the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office, several Federal Ministers and senior military officials.  Lonny has had a varied career including working as a television news producer, covering federal elections, Olympics and Remembrance Day Ceremonies. While working for the public service, he was responsible for media relations for the 2010 G-8 and G-20 Summits in Ontario. Since 2014 Lonny has been managing public affairs at the Department of National Defence (DND). In this role he has coordinated communications for national events such as the 2017 Invictus Games, the visits of the Royal Family in Canada, Ceremonial Guard activities on Parliament Hill, and Canada Day celebrations.

Cathy Cowan - Instructor, Post-Graduate Certificate in Public RelationsCathy Cowan, MBA

Cathy has worked on high profile PR campaigns with some of the most brilliant brands & marketers in Canada. She’s a 20-year PR agency veteran with an MBA, who founded Cowan & Company Communications—a communications agency specializing in premium lifestyle brands—which has been recognized 4 times as IABC/Toronto’s Boutique PR Agency of the Year. In addition to winning numerous awards for marketing communications, media relations, special events, publications, social media and social responsibility, she’s collaborated with trailblazing brands, including L’Oreal Paris, Kraft, Jamieson Vitamins, Cisco, Expedia, Nintendo and Food Banks Canada. But, ultimately, extraordinary communications results are her driving passion and greatest professional reward. She’s thrilled to share these real-world Canadian PR successes and best practices with her students at York University.

Heath-ApplebaumHeath Applebaum

Heath is a global-award-winning communications expert who has taught thousands of PR students at five different universities and colleges across Canada over the past 10 years. Outside of the classroom, he is the President of Echo Communications Inc., a reputation management consulting firm that helps companies across North America. Heath is a sought-after industry thought leader that has spoken at 70 conferences around the world and teaches communicators around the world through the International Association of Business Communicators Academy.

Heath has previously taught at the University of Guelph-Humber, Humber College, University of Victoria, and McMaster University, and has been a PR curriculum developer for Centennial College. His teaching philosophy is predicated on bringing the real world into the classroom to prepare his students for future success. He generously shares his 20 years of diverse marketing, PR and journalism experience from the corporate, agency, consulting and non-profit sectors with his students. Heath has been published in a university textbook and international journals. He was recently re-elected for his fourth consecutive term on the Board of Director’s for the Canadian Public Relations Society.


Fundamentals of Public Relations

Develop a foundational understanding of how communication strategies, tactics, and writing apply to public relations management. A real-world approach will be used to showcase the depth and breadth of the profession across a variety of sectors including: corporate, non-profit, agency and government.

Content Creation, Strategic Messaging & Storytelling

Public Relations storytelling goes beyond pretty words and pictures, skilled PR professionals must clearly communicate a strong message. Develop strategic key messages as the foundation for creating engaging content for an array of public relations channels including print, online, broadcast, video, and social media. Apply real-world public relations content development techniques to sharpen your written, verbal, visual, and digital communication skills.

Internal Communications and Change Management

Be introduced to key internal communications concepts, channels, theories, best practices, trends, and skills to be an effective public relations practitioner. Gain insight into how internal communicators support the organization’s goals–while engaging with internal audiences.

Reputation Management and Crisis Communication

Learn the steps necessary to address and overcome crisis communication and reputation management issues. Identify issues that may pose a threat to an organization’s reputation (both proactively and reactively), assess the best communications options for drafting a crisis response, select tools for monitoring a business issue in real-time and examine the importance of social media and owned content channels during a time of crisis.

Integrated Marketing Strategies

Integrated marketing combines public relations, advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing, and social media to sustain a consistent message with a given target audience. Analyze how integrated marketing strategies are developed and used to plan, execute, and measure across various traditional, digital and social media channels.

Stakeholder Relations & Community Engagement

Gain an understanding of the key relationship-building tactics needed to be an effective public relations practitioner.  Learn how to effectively perform as a spokesperson for an organization (the art of media relations), leveraging concepts of corporate social responsibility, marketing, stakeholder relations, government relations, and more.  The primary objective of this course is to understand the role that a public relations professional must play when supporting their organization and how their role influences their organization’s credibility in the eyes of the public.

Strategic Planning, Research & Measurement

Mastering the skills of strategy, strategic planning and thinking will serve you through your entire career as a communication professional. Learn how to define and use strategy to help brands and products achieve objectives, develop initiatives, and increase exposure to a target audience by using research, insights, measurement and project management to create and execute strategic programs.

Public Relations in Practice: Real World Perspectives and Possibilities

Apply the fundamental skills learned in previous public relations courses to current, relevant and challenging scenarios. Students will develop and execute public relations campaign strategies from the vantage point of agency or client in a fast paced, real-world learning environment. Gain firsthand knowledge and experience into the opportunities that await you upon graduation.

Technology Requirements for Remote/Online Courses

Program Policies



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