Topic Name Description
Course Introduction Page Course Syllabus
Page Course Terms of Use
1.1: Key Innovations and Founding Figures in the Development of Public Relations URL The Economist: "Rise of the Image Men”

Read this entire article which provides insightful analysis of the beginnings, evolution, and current state of the public relations industry. Note in particular the roles played by public relations innovators Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays, both former journalists who applied their communication skills to shaping public opinion through the news media on behalf of their clients. Also, notice how PR practitioners have sought to evolve from more than just a "mouthpiece” to participating in high-level decision-making, such as in the case of the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

URL Mastering Public Relations: "Chapter 1: The Importance of Public Relations"

Read this chapter for an introduction to the definitions and functions of public relations.

URL Mastering Public Relations: "Chapter 2: What Is Public Relations?"

Read this chapter to continue your introduction to the definitions and functions of public relations.

Page Wikipedia: "Public Relations"

Review this article for an overview of the history, definitions, and methods of public relations. It is not necessary to digest the entire article, but it serves well as a touch point as the course delves into the finer aspect of successful public relations practices. As you read this overview, which describes key figures and the evolution of public relations, compare the piece with the earlier assigned article "Rise of the Image Men” for additional insights into PR practices and practitioners. You may also research the role of Doris Fleishman as one of the early women influencing the development of public relations.

URL Steve Simon's "Traditional PR Still Remains Strong"

Read this article by a long-time public relations executive. How can a PR practitioner make sure their work remains grounded in fundamental traditions and methods?

URL Peter Granat's "A Recipe for Marketing Success"

Read this article.

1.2: New Directions in Public Relations URL Marsha Friedman's "The Past, Present and Future of Public Relations"

In this article, PR agency owner Marsha Friedman interviews Al Ries, an international marketing expert and author, and they discuss case studies in traditional marketing and PR campaigns. Friedman and Ries discuss how changing times have modified PR professionals' focus.

URL Blake Miller's "The New Rules for Public Relations"

In this article, PR executive Blake Miller describes the changing strategies for challenging times in the field.

Unit 1 Discussion URL Unit 1 Discussion

After you review the unit materials, please post and respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. Feel free to start your own related posts, and respond to other students' postings as well.

  1. How do the historical foundations of public relations apply to current day news? Please share some examples.
  2. How might the role of public relations fit within a larger marketing campaign?
  3. How do you think developments in social media are impacting the field of public relations?
2.1: Essential Components of Public Relations Planning URL Mastering Public Relations: "Chapter 3: Models and Approaches to Public Relations"

Read this chapter for an introduction to the practical functions of public relations.

2.1.1: Public Relations Primer URL Steven R. Van Hook's "Media and Public Relations: A Primer"

Review modules 1-8, and make a note of any resources or templates you may find especially useful. These resources and templates may be useful as you undertake a public relations campaign. We will refer back to this primer later in the course, but for now it gives an overview of public relations and demonstrates some of the tools that PR experts use. This primer was prepared to help government and business leaders in the former Soviet Union make the transition from a centralized system to a market environment, where they were expected to interact with a freer and more independent media. The concept of "public and media relations" was new to many of these leaders, so this primer provides a fundamental overview of the basic ideas and tools of PR.

2.1.2: Fundamental Terms and Concepts URL Steven R. Van Hook's "Marketing Fundamentals”

Watch this video, which summarizes the fundamentals of marketing terminology and practices. Many of the terms and concepts found in public relations are rooted in the foundations and traditions of marketing. Please pay extra attention to the key concepts of targeting, positioning, demographics, and segmentation. These topics are critical when defining public relations audiences and the methods to reach them.

2.2.1: Preparing the Public Relations Plan URL Craig Miyamoto's "How to Write a Comprehensive Public Relations Plan"

Read this excellent primer on crafting a PR plan.

2.2.2: Public Relations Planning Primers URL Steve Le Vine's "Public Relations: Your Saving Grace?"

Read this article by PR agency founder Steven Le Vine. He provides a 5-point overview of key concepts a practitioner must keep in mind when planning a public relations campaign. 

URL Pari Noskin Taichert's "Plan It: A Four-Point PR Primer"

Read Pari Noskin Taichert's brief summary of the four initial steps for preparing a public relations plan.

Unit 2 Discussion URL Unit 2 Discussion

After you review the unit materials, please post and respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. Feel free to start your own related posts, and respond to other students' postings as well.

  1. What seems to be the most important aspects of preparing a public relations plan?
  2. Which marketing concepts may especially apply to effective public relations campaigns?
  3. If you are undertaking your own public relations campaign currently or in the future, please share any aspects of your planning process.
3.1: Publics and Demographics URL Mastering Public Relations: "Chapter 7: Identifying and Prioritizing Stakeholders and Publics"

Read this chapter, which discusses the steps in identifying the publics you will want to build beneficial relationships with. Pay attention to the definitions of stakeholders and publics, their linkages to an organization, the ways publics may behave, and the useful public relations case study of how a company sought to build its corporate headquarters in a prestigious neighborhood.

URL Steven R. Van Hook's "Who Are Your Publics?"

Watch this video on publics and demographics. Among the most important aspects of a communication campaign is forming a clear picture of just who the targeted audience is. This video helps describe key publics, demographics, and segments we should identify early in our communication planning.

3.2: International and Global Demographic Research Resources URL Steven R. Van Hook's "Marketing Research Resources"

Review this international research resource for connections to domestic and global demographic data including gender, age, income, national profiles, and company reports. Among the most useful for international campaigns are the CIA World Factbook and the Economist Country Briefings, which provide extensive demographic, economic, and political detail on nations around the world. Please share any useful findings by posting to the course discussion board.

3.3: Formulating Messages for Diverse Demographics URL Formulating Messages for Diverse Demographics

Read these articles by public relations experts who specialize in connecting with diverse audiences. The articles cover topics like understanding the psychology of your target, the importance of skilled cross-cultural communications in a global marketplace, the effectiveness of bringing passion and zeal to your communications, and the varied and challenging environments you might encounter working in different countries.

URL Steven R. Van Hook's "Transcultural Communications"

Watch this video on international communication tactics, using themes and images that transcend cultural differences. If you publish a website, then you are positioned to reach a global audience. English may connect us in global business with a common language, but we still need to be sensitive to cultural differences.

Unit 3 Discussion URL Unit 3 Discussion

After you review the unit materials, please post and respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. Feel free to start your own related posts, and respond to other students' postings as well.

  1. What are some of the key publics you have worked with, or plan to work with, in your professional communications?
  2. What useful websites and tools did you find in your investigation of research resources?
  3. What nations and cultures have you worked with? How are they different and similar to one another?
4.1: Traditional and New Media Outlets URL Steven R. Van Hook's Media and Public Relations Primer: "Module 3: Understanding the Media"

Revisit this primer and focus on module 3, which features a summary of criteria that editors and reporters may use in deciding which stories to cover and provides a brief overview of characteristics particular to specific media.

URL Media and Technology

Read these articles written by public relations experts specializing media relations. These articles address the changes underway in the field, which are affected by evolving technologies, social media, and the adaptations by mainstream media.

4.2.1: Attracting Media Attention URL Attracting Media Attention

Read these articles written by PR experts who specialize in media relations. These articles cover the topics of attracting the attention of busy assignment editors and winning more play in print and broadcast media.

URL Steven R. Van Hook's "Communication Appeals & Tactics”

Watch this video, which presents basic appeals and tactics for effective communications. This video answers questions about how to get someone's attention and what to do if you manage to catch it. Remember that though you are going through the media's gatekeeping editors and reporters, it is ultimately their audiences you are trying to reach. Have an appeal that works for their audience, and the media will help you do that.

4.2.2: The Media Release URL Media Releases

Read these four articles written by PR experts who specialize in media relations. These articles cover key topics such as formulating your message for specific occasions, events and circumstances justifying a media release, effective alternatives to media releases, and how to tailor your release to specific media.

URL Steven R. Van Hook's Media and Public Relations Primer: "Module 4: Effective Media Releases, Kits & Conferences"

Read module 4 to learn how to pitch to the news media. Be sure to click on the embedded links to sample media release formats.

4.2.3: Pitching Your Story URL Pitching Stories

Read these four articles written by PR experts who specialize in media relations. These articles cover the important topics of how to best pitch your story to a busy editor or reporter and how to stand out among the pile of other story pitches you need to compete against.

4.2.4: Presenting Yourself to the Media URL Presenting Yourself
URL Steven R. Van Hook's Media and Public Relations Primer: "Module 5: Preparing for Media Interviews"

Read module 5, which addresses the ten steps in preparing for media interviews, the types of reporters you might meet, and three interview mistakes people often make.

4.2.5: Maintaining Media Relationships URL Maintaining Media Relationships

Read these articles written by PR experts who specialize in media relations. The writers discuss best tactics for maintaining healthy relations with editors and reporters so you have established credibility and respect the next time you pitch them with a story.

Unit 4 Discussion URL Unit 4 Discussion

After you review the unit materials, please post and respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. Feel free to start your own related posts, and respond to other students' postings as well.

  1. How might you change your approach to media relations based on the type of news outlet you hope to pitch (print, broadcast, online)?
  2. What advice would you provide to a newsmaker who is about to be interviewed by a reporter?
  3. What are the steps you might take to ensure ongoing and productive relations with the media?
5.1.1: Conducting Research URL Mastering Public Relations: "Chapter 8: Public Relations Research: The Key to Strategy”

Read Chapter 8 from the text, Mastering Public Relations.  This chapter outlines the importance, purpose, and methods of conducting research - the essential first step for effective communications.

5.1.2: Reference Materials for Proper Writing Style URL The Associated Press Stylebook

Consider obtaining this official guide to writing in AP style, a standard form for most newspapers in the United States. If you are going to do extensive work with the news media, it is a worthwhile investment to purchase this book. This book serves as an example of how a well-written press release uses AP style, provides cross-promotion with social media, and injects company information and contact detail. To see AP style at work, do a Google search for "AP style" and visit several pages that may give examples of the AP style rules applied to specific instances of writing. In the United States, you will also find newspapers serving your community typically use AP style, so you can examine those as well for samples of the style rules.

5.1.3: Writing Primers URL Steven R. Van Hook's "Best Writing Tips”

Watch this video for suggestions on how to immediately improve your written communication skills. Public relations professionals spend lots of times writing things like internal and external communications, media releases, company reports, and memos. This video discusses six tips on how to do it much better.

URL Improving Your Writing

Read these articles written by PR experts who specialize in public relations writing. Your time spent learning how to communicate more effectively with the news media and improving your writing skills will help ensure the success of your immediate campaigns as well as your ongoing professional career.

5.2.1: Creating PR Materials URL Creating PR Materials

Read these articles written by PR experts who specialize in PR communications. These articles discuss the essential aspects of effective communications, including formulating your creative message for media and promotional materials as well as writing with a style that connects with your target audience in both their heads and hearts.

5.2.2: Public Presentations URL Public Speaking

Read these articles written by PR experts who specialize in public relations writing. The authors provide how-to tips on preparing for more effective personal presentations and suggestions for finding more speaking opportunities.

5.2.3: Internal Communications URL Mastering Public Relations: "Chapter 5: Organizational Factors for Excellent Public Relations" and "Chapter 6: Public Relations and Organizational Effectiveness"

Read this chapter on organizational issues in public relations. Internal communications can be essential to an organization's success and avoiding conflicts and crises that may stem from inadequate contact with in-house stakeholders. Pay close attention to the Chapter 5 detail on organizational culture and structures as well as the Chapter 6 section on stakeholder management and building strategic constituencies.

URL All About Public Relations

Read these articles by public relations experts who specialize in internal communications. Internal communications is an aspect of public relations often overlooked; some would even suggest that internal communications are more important than our external outreach, at least when it comes to ensuring a solid foundation upon which to base your campaign.

Unit 5 Discussion URL Unit 5 Discussion

After you review the unit materials, please post and respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. Feel free to start your own related posts, and respond to other students' postings as well.

  1. What steps do you hope to use to improve your own writing skills?
  2. How do you best activate your own creativity (e.g. do you take a walk, keep a journal, etc.)?
  3. Share an example of a public speech you may have given. How did you prepare for the speech? How did it go?
6.1: Public Relations in Social Marketing URL Nedra Kline Weinreich's "What Is Social Marketing?"

Many of the communication tactics working for social programs are the same as those applied to commercial undertakings, including the most fundamentals of traditional marketing and public relations. However, social communications focus more on the consumer rather than the product. Notice also how social marketing expands the concept of publics, partnerships, policy, and purse-strings for a wider range of stakeholders in a project's activities and results.

URL Steven R. Van Hook's "Social Marketing"

Watch this video about social marketing. Most of the tools for promoting commercial projects can be applied to advancing social causes and programs.

6.2: Methods of Social Public Relations URL Mastering Public Relations: "Chapter 10: The Practice of Public Relations"

Read this chapter on how public relations functions in the corporate world also apply to and differ from government, public affairs, nonprofit, and activist public relations.

URL Methods of Social Public Relations

Read these articles written by PR experts who specialize in social project public relations. These authors provide useful suggestions on how to promote your project events, connecting with the community at a grassroots (and inexpensive) level, and how even for-profit PR campaigns might benefit from partnering with nonprofit causes.

6.3.1: Connecting with Social Programs URL Connecting with Social Programs

Read these articles written by PR experts who specialize in non-profit public relations projects. Working on non-profit projects is a fine way for a new PR practitioner to break into the field and do some good along the way.

6.3.2: Support Resources for Social Project Planning URL Steven R. Van Hook's How-To Marketing: "Social Marketing"

Visit these links to a number of resources useful for public relations planning within social projects. Among the selections is the Social Marketing Institute, which seeks to apply "the very best social marketing practices in a wide range of settings all over the world” with resources including success stories, papers, and employment listings. The Social Marketing Resource Guide provides useful social marketing tools and case studies. The Nonprofit and Philanthropy Good Practice page features hands-on tips, articles, best practices, and discussion forums supporting social project planning.

Unit 6 Discussion URL Unit 6 Discussion

After you review the unit materials, please post and respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. Feel free to start your own related posts, and respond to other students' postings as well.

  1. What are some of the similarities and differences of commercial and social marketing?
  2. Have you ever worked on a social marketing campaign? Please share details.
  3. What sort of social campaign might you like to work on in the future?
7.1: Crisis Events and Plan Preparation URL Crisis Events and Plan Preparation

Read these articles by public relations experts who specialize in planning and executing crisis management programs. Take detailed notes on this important aspect of public relations services: crisis management.

7.2.1: How to Avoid Crises URL How to Avoid Crises

Read these articles by three public relations experts who specialize in avoiding crisis situations. The time to plan for crisis management is before a disaster happens.

7.2.2: How to Apologize URL Richard S. Levick's "The Art of Mea Culpa"

Read this strategic communications article on how to help corporate clients apologize for their mistakes.

7.2.3: How to Fix Crises URL How to Fix Crises

Read these articles by three public relations experts who specialize in resolving crisis situations. Once a crisis is underway, you can take steps to counter the crisis before it escalates into a disaster by establishing credibility with the public and media and using effective tools to get your message out.

7.3 : Case Studies URL Case Studies
Unit 7 Discussion URL Unit 7 Discussion

After you review the unit materials, please post and respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. Feel free to start your own related posts, and respond to other students' postings as well.

  1. What examples of crisis communications have you seen lately in the news? Can you find cases illustrating how both corporate and government officials dealt with crises?
  2. Think of a time you had to apologize for some offense you committed: what did you do well? What might you have done better?
  3. What you would say are the most important aspects of careful crisis planning?
8.1: Codes of Ethics Governing Public Relations Practitioners URL Codes of Ethics

Read these articles, which detail fundamental ethical questions facing PR practitioners. Consider where the greater obligation lies: to the good of society on the whole, or the particular self-interests of a company or client, or some balance in between.

URL Illinois Institute of Technology, Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions

Visit this website, which links to codes of ethics and other related resources for a large number of professional fields. Public relations practitioners work in a sweeping array of fields, so it is useful to be familiar with a wide range of ethics codes. Visit the Codes of Ethics Collections, and read the Index of Codes to find a wide range of keywords, organizations, and professional categories to research for codes of ethics. Research at least two different professional categories, such as marketing or healthcare, for related codes of ethics.

8.2: Applying Codes of Ethics URL Mastering Public Relations: "Chapter 11: Ethics, Leadership and Counseling, and Moral Analyses" and "Chapter 12: Best Practices for Excellence in Public Relations"

Read Chapters 11 and 12 for an analysis of ethical practices in public relations, the public relations professional's role in moral decision-making, and applying best practices to proper conduct. After you read Chapter 12 on best practices in public relations, compare the authors' suggested practices with the codes of ethics you considered in the previous resources.

URL Steven Le Vine's "How to Run Ethically Sound PR Campaigns"

Read this article by public relations agency founder Steven Le Vine for a five-point summary on how to avoid ethical hazards in PR campaigns.

URL The Center for Media and Democracy: "PR Watch”

Visit this website, which provides for a large assortment of reports and links providing a critical look at specific cases of shady public relations. Spend some time reading several articles to give yourself an idea of steps you might take to avoid becoming a target and to recognize when codes of ethics are violated.

Unit 8 Discussion URL Unit 8 Discussion

After you review the unit materials, please post and respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. Feel free to start your own related posts, and respond to other students' postings as well.

  1. What ethical issues do you feel are most often faced by public relations professionals?
  2. What are some practical examples of public relations ethics you have seen done well and poorly?
  3. What did you gather from your codes of ethics research that might best apply to your own standards of conduct?
9.1: Job Outlook for Public Relations Professionals URL U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: "Public Relations Managers and Specialists"

Start by reading the "What They Do" tab. Then, read the rest of the tabs from "Work Environment" to "Contacts for More Info". Afterwards, read the summary. This page gives extensive data on the public relations profession, including pay, education and skill requirements, current and projected number of jobs, work environment, and more.

URL Steven R. Van Hook's How-To Marketing: "Marketing Employment Trends"

Read this summary of the employment outlook in the fields of marketing, public relations, advertising, and sales.

9.2.1: Just Starting Out URL Just Starting Out

Read these two articles for advice from experienced PR professionals on the first steps towards a career in public relations.  These articles will be especially useful for recent college graduates in this competitive field.

9.2.2: Public Relations Internships URL Public Relations Internships
URL Internship Programs

Visit this site and spend some time searching for internship opportunities by industry (like public relations) and location.

9.2.3: Entry-Level Public Relations Jobs URL Entry-Level PR Jobs

Read these two articles by young public relations professionals. The authors discuss their best tips on landing a first job in PR.

9.2.4: Career Advancement URL Career Advancement

Read these two articles written by PR professionals. In these articles, the authors discuss advanced career options and methods in public relations.

9.3: Research: Employment Resources for Public Relations Job Placement URL Public Relations Society of America, Job Center

Browse this site for articles on finding work and links to employment agencies for jobs in public relations, communications, and marketing. At the PRSA's Job Center, you can search for public relations jobs according to the industry and location that you desire. You can also post your resume as well as research career and education resources.

URL Steven R. Van Hook's "Your Future in Public Relations"

This article discusses career opportunities in public relations and gives links to information on large PR employers, qualifications you will need to develop, and how to advance in your career. Share any useful leads you find in the discussion forum.

URL Database of Transnational Organizations

Visit this database of links to international organizations involved in governmental and nonprofit activities around the world. This resource is especially useful for practitioners who hope to apply their public relations skills to government work, social marketing, and development programs. Share any useful information and leads you find in the discussion forum.

Unit 9 Discussion URL Unit 9 Discussion

After you review the unit materials, please post and respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. Feel free to start your own related posts, and respond to other students' postings as well.

  1. Where in the world would you most like to work, and what kinds of public relations projects would you like to be involved with?
  2. What useful employment resources and job leads did you find in your research for this unit?
  3. Based on your studies in this unit, what words of advice would you offer to someone just starting out in a PR career?
10.1: Research: Professional Resources for Career Development URL Council of Public Relations Firms

Visit the sites of the organizations in this subunit. These organizations support public relations professionals. You may want to associate with one of these organizations as you rise in a public relations career. They offer many free resources, even for non-members.

On the Council of Public Relations' page, you can find examples of best practices, case studies, and white papers on PR topics.

URL International Association of Business Communicators

Here, you can take a look at job and internship opportunities, post your resume, and set up job alerts.

URL International Public Relations Association

The International Public Relations Association gives provides information on public relations associations around the world.

URL Public Relations Society of America

The Public Relations Society of America offers professional development resources for entry-level through senior-level PR practitioners.

10.2: Forming Professional Social Networks URL Forming Professional Social Networks

Read these articles by public relations professionals. These articles discuss tips, tactics, and the benefits of networking for career advancement in public relations. The very same skills you use to promote your company and causes can also be used to effectively market yourself.

Unit 10 Discussion URL Unit 10 Discussion

After you review the unit materials, please post and respond to the following topics on the course discussion board. Feel free to start your own related posts, and respond to other students' postings as well.

  1. What social networks do you currently participate in?
  2. As you researched the offerings of the professional associations linked in this unit, what resources did you find especially useful?
  3. How do you feel networking may help improve your own career goals?
Course Feedback Survey URL Course Feedback Survey