Many would assume anyone who studies public relations in graduate school is destined for a career at a public relations agency or in-house at an organization. But Joe Martinelli ’16 knows the abilities required to succeed in public relations can translate to a wide range of fields — including education.
Martinelli, who is pursuing an M.A. in Public Relations within the College of Communication and the Arts, regularly uses the skills he learns in courses like Theory and Evolution of Public Relations to teach University Life and advise Seton Hall University freshmen. Specifically, he applies communication and writing skills to work more effectively with his students and fellow faculty members.
He also shares public relations concepts with his students. “I recently learned about reputation management and turned it into a lesson on appropriate social media behavior,” said Martinelli. “When (my students) come to the University as 18-year-olds, they do not realize their actions or what they post on social media may represent them in the future. I applied that lesson from my public relations coursework.”
Martinelli decided to pursue public relations after a career as a middle school special education teacher. Although he explored other options, he said he decided to study public relations because he realized it was a versatile degree applicable to many settings.
“Public Relations gives you skills that you can apply in almost any workplace, no matter your position,” Martinelli said. “Communication skills are important, especially in today’s world where you see different issues involving the inability to communicate effectively. It would be nice to be able to go in and help bring change to the world through effective communication.”
Martinelli hopes to make a positive impact through public relations just as he did as an educator. While working as a teacher, he said he loved helping students learn while inspiring them to pursue opportunities they never thought they had. He said finding ways of letting his students use their strengths to shine was especially rewarding, particularly when they told him he made a difference in their lives afterward. If there was one thing he learned through teaching, he said, it was that special education children are not “less than” general education students — every child learns differently.
Now that he is studying public relations, Martinelli hopes to take advantage of the abilities he developed as an educator. For instance, he said working in a classroom taught him a lot about time management and working with different types of people, which are two skills needed to thrive in public relations.
Martinelli is also honing his public relations skills through volunteer work. Last year he volunteered for two golf tournaments — the Presidents Cup and the U.S. Women’s Open — where he said he received experience in planning and implementing an event from start to finish. Additionally, he learned more about event planning while volunteering for Operation Shower, a nonprofit that throws baby showers for military families.
Looking ahead, Martinelli said he would enjoy working in event planning, particularly for athletics. He said he could also see himself working for a university, with a return to teaching always being an option. For now though, he said he is eager to continue learning about public relations at Seton Hall, where professors like Dr. Kristen Koehler and Dr. Renee Robinson have impressed him with their scholarly publications, professional experience, and willingness to work with students both inside and outside the classroom.
Martinelli is impressed by his peers, too. “Students in the program take what they are doing seriously,” he said. “They are all here for a reason — they want to advance themselves. So, it is nice to see a high level of professionalism in the program.”
The College currently offers three Master's-level programs, including Museum Professions, Strategic Communication, and Public Relations. In addition, four dual-degree options, including three accelerated B.A./M.A. programs and a dual M.A. degree with the School of Diplomacy and International Relations are offered. A Ph.D. program is currently under development.