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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Online Public Relations Services

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

3.8 stars
Content Quality: 3.6 stars
Effectiveness: 3.2 stars
Ease of Use: 3.9 stars
Reviewed: Jul 24, 2006 by Business Editorial Board
Overview: The module is an Internet-based information site regarding how to utilize online
media for public relations purposes. The site addresses four key areas: what
is online public relations, who benefits from PR online, online PR services and
frequently asked questions. The Online Public Relations Services module is part
of a larger website devoted
to Online PR that is maintained by Consultant James L. Horton. The services
section of the website provides a general, but superficial introduction to the
goals and benefits of Online PR services. The real value of this section lies in
the more detailed descriptions of specific online PR services, and the variety
of annotated links related to several topics.

Learning Goals: The module provides support material for addressing public relations and/or the
use of online media outlets to inform and obtain customers. The goal of the
module is to provide more specific information, such as definitions of, “when to
use” and “how to use” various aspects, that may not be provided in a standard
text. Although the site is maintained by a consultant who works in the PR
industry, generating sales leads is NOT the primary goal of this portion of the
website. Rather, the major learning goals seem to be geared towards creating
awareness of the various online PR services that exist and under what
circumstances each would best be used.

Target Student Population: The module is most effectively used in a college course related to Media Arts,
Marketing and, and more specifically, Advertising. It is appropriate for
freshman through senior aged students, however they should have some
introductory level understanding of business and marketing due to the
terminology used. Undergraduate students enrolled in Principles of Public
Relations, Promotions or Integrated Marketing Communications, Internet
Marketing. The links associated with some services may be useful to senior
level students enrolled in PR campaign courses. The site might also have value
in a small business advertising/promotion course, and Continuing Eduation
students enrolled in similar topics may also benefit.

Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: An introductory business and/or marketing course should precede the use of this
module, as terminology related to target market, primary and secondary research,
etc. is regularly used. A student without this knowledge would not understand
the module’s information as effectively.
Type of Material: Reference Material
Recommended Uses: The module is best used as support material to a lecture, either in the
presentation of the topic or additional reading for students. Alternately,
students could be instructed to select a particular service from the list shown
as a topic for written paper or oral presentation, with the understanding that
additional research will be required, as the site itself may offer only a
limited discussion of certain topics.

Technical Requirements: An Internet Browser is the only technical requirement.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3.6 stars
Strengths: The module provides a concise description of the use of online media for public
relations and items to consider prior, during and regularly following its usage.
For someone who is familiar with the vocabulary, the module is easy to
understand and is a good reference document. The site is easily navigable, and
can be viewed quickly should an issue be urgent.

Provides a basic definition of several online PR services as well as some
limited insight on when the use of such services is merited. Online audits,
content development, promotion, tracking and analysis of brands, competitors or
industries, public affairs, investor relations, research, PR and Intra/Extranets
are some of the service topics introduced. Additional service topics discussed
include web site design and search engine considerations, website launch
planning, partnering with other web sites, media relations, online crisis
management (including copycat and stealth sites) online events, and the PR
process.

Concerns: The module is isolated to online public relations, and doesn’t address other
uses for online media in the course of the business. Likewise, it is a
text-only site, and depending on the audience, may not be as effective at
explaining various topics. Additional graphics and/or visual exemplars may be
needed. Lastly, it is an information-only site, and does not have activities
automatically incorporated into its design. An instructor planning to use this
in a course would need to develop additional usage materials, if desired. Most
service explanations are very general, and lack specific examples or more
detailed discussions that could vastly improve the quality of the content.


Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3.2 stars
Strengths: The module gives a lot of information about online public relations services,
and can be utilized very quickly and easily for an excellent topical discussion
or study resource. A student could learn a great deal in a shorter time than
reading a textbook chapter.
Concerns: The content is very isolated to one topic, and prior to usage, would need to be
presented in context of a larger course objective. As an information site, it
does not have embedded activities or summary questions to further reinforce the
understanding and retention of the topic. The lack of examples and detailed
content inhibit the material's effective use as a stand along teaching tool.


Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 3.9 stars
Strengths: The module is very easy to use, and is a quick reference tool. It provides an
excellent summary of public relations online.
Concerns: The module is text-only, and does not provide applied examples to support the
content. Some topics/headings are underlined for emphasis, but don't actually
link to additional content. Due to Internet conventions that associate
underlines with linkages, this formatting issue has the potential to cause
confusion among some users.


Other Issues and Comments: