In Fall 2018, I will begin teaching an undergraduate course in public relations (CMTM-370) at Northeastern Illinois University, my graduate school alma mater.
CMTM 370: Studies In Public Relations is a general survey that offers an introduction to the field of public relations (PR), with an equal focus on theoretical understanding and practical application.
The course begins with the cultural history of PR and its function within the broader framework of communication theory. Students will learn how PR practitioners have defined and represented the discipline and how these definitions reflect broader social, technological and commercial trends. The course will also address the professional expectations and obligations of the PR discipline and understand its evolving strategic and ethical complexities within various career contexts (e.g. commercial, political, governmental, etc.).
Students will have the opportunity to engage in lively, informed discussions of daily news and PR trends, as well as formulate strategic communications objectives; identify and research audiences; and develop and propose media plans to accomplish strategic goals.
I’ll be using this section on my website to post updates from the course and offer my students and the broader digital public easy access to resources and tools to help them develop their communications skills. Because that’s all PR is, really: strategic communications.
And that’s going to be the theme of this course; to show that PR is nothing more than smart communications practices applied for strategic goals. You can use them for good or for evil. And sometimes, if you’re like Aaron Eckhart in Thank You for Smoking (2005), you can even use them to change what good and evil mean:
Of course, not every PR person is a shill. And not every shill is a PR person. And you don’t need to sell your soul to make it in PR.
By providing students a look at the theories, practices, nuances and shortcomings of PR—and drawing on my own experience working for mission-driven organizations—I also plan to show how building a career in communications is, above all else, about learning how to tell the truth. And why this matters, especially at our complicated point in modern history.
Questions? Comments? Click here and let me know what you think.