Some online public relations classes are offered as required coursework in undergraduate degree and certificate programs in public relations or related areas, such as event planning, advertising or mass media studies. Many online public relations courses are also part of graduate education programs that are open to bachelor's degree holders with degrees in fields such as public relations, communications or marketing. Prior to enrollment, students may need to equip their computers with a microphone and specific software.
Program Information and Requirements
Many distance learning institutions offer their public relations courses through interactive learning systems such as Blackboard. This allows teachers and students to discuss course material in bulletin board and real-time formats, for which students might need a microphone and speaker. Also, students will likely need access to Microsoft Office to complete assignments. In addition to textbooks and assigned online reading, some courses might use supplementary materials, such as instructional DVDs.
Most online public relations certificate and degree programs combine core public relations coursework with electives highlighting areas of specialization within the discipline. Sample core courses include the following:
- Foundations of public relations
- Media communication
- Event planning
- Public relations research
Elective course topics consist of classes in the following:
- Speech writing
- Public relations ethics
- Corporate social responsibility
- Public relations decision making
- Organizational communications
- Social media networking in public relations
Public Relations Writing
Public relations writing courses teach students fundamental concepts of preparing written communications aimed at creating a favorable image of their clients. Various forms and styles of public relations writing and editing are covered, including press releases, fact sheets and crisis communications. Students also learn how to prepare media kits.
Public Relations Marketing
In marketing-oriented public relations courses, students learn how to use promotions and media interaction to generate positive attention about the product or person they may be working to represent. Much of the class time is devoted to product launching. Students are educated in making products highly visible to the demographics they're intended to reach. Methods for accomplishing these goals include branding and interactive media outreach.
Public Relations Planning
These online courses teach students the ins and outs of planning promotional events and campaigns. Students learn to secure media coverage and product placement as well as finding sponsors, venues, donations and event attendees within carefully structured budget constraints and time frames.
Public Relations Analysis
Online public relations analysis courses teach students the importance of tracking media coverage and public opinion. Students learn to analyze the effectiveness of recently conducted public relations campaigns by determining if corporate goals were met in terms of media coverage, public recognition and product visibility.
Public relations executives create and present positive images to the public about the clients, businesses or products they represent. In order to do this, they seek favorable media coverage and plan promotional events, among other methods. Online courses in this field of study provide students with the foundational skills necessary to pursue public relations careers in writing, marketing, planning and analyzing.
Students and current professionals can also advance their existing careers by taking online public relations courses. In addition, they learn about different professional sectors in which public relations practitioners can work, including non-profit organizations, government and consultancy.
In conclusion, online undergraduate and graduate certificate and degree programs give students the opportunity to study multiple aspects of public relations in a virtual format that offers flexibility in scheduling and location.