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.
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 modules information as effectively.
Type of Material:
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.
An Internet Browser is the only technical requirement.
Evaluation and Observation
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.
The module is isolated to online public relations, and doesnt 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
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.
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
The module is very easy to use, and is a quick reference tool. It provides an excellent summary of public relations online.
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.