Teaching social media on university PR courses

Teaching social media on university PR courses

Stuart Bruce points us in the direction of an emerging debate between PR lecturer Richard Bailey and one of his students Natalie Smith.
Richard is asking how he should be teaching the topic of social media on his PR degree course. Natalie has responded on her own blog with a good list of things that PR students need to get their heads around.
I wouldn’t disagree at all with Natalie’s list. What I’d add is that while the things on her list are valid now, the pace of change in social media means that in a few short years time there will undoubtedly be more tools that need adding to the list.
Something that I think would be good for Richard to consider would be teaching how the theory of social media relates to the practice. Having just completed a PR qualification I’m very aware of PR theory and its links with what I do day-to-day. Social media has challenged many of these theories and requires practitioners to think about them in different ways.
The other aspect that’s worth considering is how social media can be integrated into an overall public relations campaign. Very few PR people use social media alone – it’s always used alongside more “traditional” techniques. For me integration is a real challenge and an area that I think could benefit from more academic exploration.
That’s it for my thoughts. I hope they help Richard and Natalie. I’m well aware of the value of PR education, both for individuals and for the continuing professionalisation of the PR business.


I work with founders and senior leaders in rapid growth businesses. My focus is building resilience, coherence and high performance in teams and organisations to enable sustainable business growth.

2 thoughts on “Teaching social media on university PR courses”

  1. I welcome and agree with your thoughts, Simon. It’s too easy to teach the tools and miss the big picture – but it’s also hard for new students to relate the big picture to their experience of the world.
    I’m still hoping you’ll be able to give a guest lecture up here one day…

  2. I’d be delighted to do a guest lecture – I think I’m heading up north for a conference presentation in the autumn, so will let you know the date to see if we can tie something up.


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