Public Relations Courses

Courses open for registration

Core Courses

Case Studies in Public Relations

Using cases from public and private sector organizations, this course examines the effectiveness of public relations and communications initiatives. You will use personal experience, external sources and information from other courses to develop and present opinions, arguments and perspectives on each case.

Communication Planning

Communication planning is one of the most important aspects of the public relations function. This course provides you with the knowledge and skills required for designing effective communication plans. Different communication planning models are presented, including issue management, project-specific, crisis, annual or operational and more. By focusing on the essential steps in developing, implementing and evaluating communication plans that fit the mission, goals and objectives of an organization, you are able to combine both the theory and practice to produce your own sound and effective communication strategies. Upon completion of this course, you will be able to design detailed communication plans, incorporating an essential planning process into their public relations element.

Effective Communication Tools

As a public relations professional, it’s important to be aware of and understand the communications tools at your disposal to deliver meaningful results. This course explores the many diverse communications tools available and how to effectively select the best tools to meet your communications goal, objective(s), messaging and audience(s). This course will also explore new and emerging tools that have an important place in reaching our audiences. At the end of this course, you will understand the types of communications tools available, how to use them and important factors to consider as you determine the right communications mix for your campaign.

Evolution of Public Relations

This course provides a study of how public relations have evolved in order to meet the changing and increasing needs of our society. This look at historical events, and how the role of public relations has emerged, provides you with helpful insight into today's patterns of public relations practice.

Public Relations Theory and Practice

The need for effective public relations in both the private and public sectors is growing rapidly. Individuals who can apply the principles of public relations in a strategic way are becoming increasingly valuable to organizations.

This introductory course reviews public relations and its use in agencies and organizations today, and provides you with a theoretical background that you can apply to your work as a public relations practitioner. Included is a preliminary review of communication planning, crisis communication and issues management. This course begins with a self-paced Orientation to Online Learning to assist you with the online learning environment.

The resources and activities in the orientation will help you learn to navigate the online learning platform, access University resources and become confident learning online. 

Research and Evaluation

This course focuses on the role of research and evaluation in public relations. You’ll learn the theoretical and practical uses of research in general, as well as specific research techniques and options that can be used with communication plans. The importance of evaluation in public relations theory is a key theme throughout the course material.

Writing for Public Relations

This course focuses on writing and editing as fundamental skills in the practice of public relations. You learn the basics of editing, as well as the elements of good writing, their role in organizational communications and their specific applications in various media.

At the end of this course, you will be able to apply these skills to the production of a range of communications vehicles, including news releases, newsletters, annual reports, feature articles, advertising copy, and video and audio productions.

Elective Courses

Community and Stakeholder Engagement

The value of relationship-building and corporate social responsibility has gained traction in recent years and most organizations now recognize the direct impact that stakeholders and communities can have on business operations. A passive approach is no longer accepted as the standard methodology when launching new initiatives that impact wider audiences. The question is no longer “should we engage?” but rather when and how to engage. Communicators increasingly need to be able to identify and analyze these groups in order to plan strategic engagement activities that advance the organization’s mission/strategic priorities.

This course will examine key concepts in community and stakeholder engagement and how effective relationship building can lead to communication and organizational success. Students will learn about internal and external stakeholder groups in different contexts, and examine various methods and techniques used to facilitate the engagement process. Topics include: stakeholder theory and models; stakeholder analysis and mapping; the engagement planning process including evaluation techniques; methods and tools for engagement; strategies for inclusive community engagement; issues and conflict management; stakeholder communication and reporting. This course is suited for a global audience and draws upon many international resources and frameworks so that learning outcomes can be applied to any context or organization around the world.

Upon completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and tools to work within the private or public sectors, for government, non-profits and corporations. Students will be exposed to a variety of resources from around the world to create a global context and will be able to successfully identify, prioritize and analyze stakeholders for effective engagement planning in any sector.

Crisis Communication for Public Relations Professionals

Note: this course is our new Micro-certificate in Crisis Communication for Public Relations Professionals, which can also be applied as an elective in the PR diploma program. Please view the micro-certificate page for more information about this program. 

In a time characterized by 24-hour news cycles and unparalleled interconnectivity, preserving reputations has become more crucial than ever. When crises emerge, preparation is the key to an effective response. Crisis Communication for Public Relations Professionals is designed for communicators seeking to enhance their skills by providing them with the expertise to develop, implement and assess robust crisis communication plans.

Exploring crisis communication theories and real-world case studies, participants will learn to navigate the complexities of crisis preparation, craft narratives for tumultuous times, ready spokespersons, effectively engage with media and social platforms, and maneuver through the post-crisis landscapes. 

You will learn the following topics in this online course:

  • predicting and preparing for a crisis
  • crisis vulnerability analysis
  • best practices for developing an effective crisis communication plan
  • assembling a crisis communication team
  • spokespersons and leadership
  • crisis communication theories
  • crisis responses
  • ethics of crisis communication
  • media and crisis
  • crisis communication evaluation strategies

You will be guided by a subject matter expert who will facilitate your learning during the entire 12-week course.

Ethics and Public Relations

This course examines the function of ethics in society, ethics history, the consequences of transparency, the specific language of communications ethics and the relationship of business ethics and communications. We will examine the roots and current practices of corporate social responsibility and the leadership role communications must play in shaping ethical futures. Personal ethical communications dilemmas, the writing of ethics codes and an examination of threads of professional ethical behaviour will be the subjects of assignments.

Leadership Excellence in Public Relations

Leadership Excellence in Public Relations prepares practitioners to move beyond strategies and tactics to achieve their leadership potential. In this course students will develop the competencies needed to lead a public relations team. Students will also be empowered to pursue organizational leadership at the highest level. This course explores how leadership paradigms and learned competencies affect PR team functioning and performance; how effective self-management contributes to compelling leadership of others; and how critical thinking contributes to leading successfully. 

Upon course completion, students are encouraged to continue growing in self-awareness and to be intentional about advancing their skills in public relations leadership to reach long-term career goals.

Media Relations

The influence of the news media on public policy, public opinion and consumer behaviour is important to companies and organizations. For this reason, the public relations practitioner should understand how the news media works and how to establish and maintain positive relationships with the news media.

This course will explain the role of the news media, how it operates, and the new guidelines that govern interaction with the news media in today's changing media and technology environment. You will learn how to construct an effective media relations strategy, how to evaluate media relations within a corporate public relations plan, and practice using tools and methods used in relationships with the news media. 

Social Media for Public Relations

The field of communications is undergoing a rapid transformation under the impact of the recent trends in digital revolution. While new communication channels are emerging, the way traditional media channels were previously used is also changing. PR practitioners of the 21st century must understand the new media culture and learn how to apply social media in public relations to adapt to this new environment.

In this course, we will explore a variety of social media tools, along with the techniques to effectively use them. You will apply the relationship building aspect of social media and learn how to integrate these new practices into an overall social media strategy. We will examine the art of monitoring and measuring metrics to determine the effectiveness of social media strategies, utilizing current evaluation tools and methods.

Pre-crisis planning tactics will also be integrated into strategic planning, with the awareness of the legal and ethical considerations that surround this new communication model.

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