Welcome to COMM411: Public Relations

Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Student Handbook.


Course Description

Prepare for public relations work in small start-up businesses, international companies, political campaigns, social programs, personal development, or other outreach projects.


Course Introduction

Effective public relations skills are essential to much of business and personal success. Public relations efforts address how we wish to present ourselves to others and how to deal with the perceptions of who others believe we are. Public relations tactics are just as useful for large international corporate projects as they are for personal networking. Most communications courses are based on addressing how we relate to others. The field of public relations takes the theories of human interaction and applies these theories for real-life results.

This course will help prepare you to conduct public relations suitable for small start-up businesses, international companies, political campaigns, social programs, personal development, and other outreach projects. There are many tools that are useful for conducting effective public relations. As we review the components of a public relations campaign, you will learn how to prepare the key materials that will help you get the job done. You will examine what has worked for others, as you craft your own form and style. You may develop your own public relations portfolio including news releases, pitch letters, biographies, position papers, crisis communications, and other tools of a strategic public relations kit. You will accomplish this by referring to diverse resources and examining extensive materials from successful practitioners in the field.

This course includes the following units:

  • Unit 1: Foundations of Public Relations
  • Unit 2: Public Relations Components and Planning
  • Unit 3: Key Target Audiences
  • Unit 4: Media Relations
  • Unit 5: Writing for Public Relations
  • Unit 6: Social Projects and Public Relations
  • Unit 7: Crisis Communications
  • Unit 8: Ethical Issues in Public Relation
  • Unit 9: Careers in Public Relations
  • Unit 10: Professional Development


Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • knowledgeably discuss the origins, purpose, and methods of effective public relations;
  • conduct related research and prepare a comprehensive public relations plan;
  • craft a range of communications that serve target audiences in commercial and social campaigns;
  • select suitable outlets and proper message format for media relations;
  • apply ethical principles to effective public relations practice;
  • develop messages using themes and images that connect with a multicultural audience in local and global campaigns; and
  • identify resources for professional networking and job opportunities in public relations.

Throughout this course, you will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.


Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are articles, lectures, and videos.

All course materials are free to access and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource, and will help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the navigation bar.


Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score

Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.


Tips for Success

COMM411: Public Relations is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or an assigned schedule to follow. We estimate that the "average" student will take 43 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.

Learning new material can be challenging, so we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories that you come across. This can help you put each concept into context, and will create a refresher that you can use as you study later on.
  • As you work through the materials, take some time to test yourself on what you remember and how well you understand the concepts. Reflecting on what you've learned is important for your long-term memory, and will make you more likely to retain information over time.


Technical Requirements

This course is delivered entirely online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.

  • To access the full course including assessments and the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one for free here. Although you can access some of the course without logging in to your account, you should log in to maximize your course experience. For example, you cannot take assessments or track your progress unless you are logged in.

For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.



This course is entirely free to enroll in and to access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, is available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

Last modified: Friday, September 25, 2020, 1:56 PM