Tag Archives: book review

The Future of Feminism in Public Relations and Strategic Communication

Brandi Watkins, Ph.D., APR, Virginia Tech

The Future of Feminism in Public Relations and Strategic Communication
Authors: Linda Aldoory, Ph.D. and Elizabeth L. Toth, Ph.D.
Rowman & Littlefield, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-5381-2824-4
Number of pages: 238

In The Future of Feminism in Public Relations and Strategic Communication, Aldoory and Toth present a comprehensive review of public relations literature that has addressed feminism, gender, race, LGBTQ, and marginalized groups in the field of public relations and organized that work into a socio-ecological model. The final model presented in the book demonstrates how research and practice in public relations have been influenced at the practitioner level, organizational level, professional level, media level, and ideological level. The book also provides an analysis and critique of the multiple factors that have constituted meaning about women, people of color, and LGBTQ practitioners and its influence on research and practice in public relations. Finally, the authors opened up a dialogue with scholars and practitioners (see Chapter 11), which informed the final model presented in the book. The content presented in this book is complex, but Aldoory and Toth are skilled at making these concepts accessible, organized, and easy to follow. The book’s scope is rather broad, attempting to review and organize an entire field of literature. Still, the authors expertly present the content in a way that makes this a practical resource for scholars at all levels. 

Content and Scope

The first section sets the stage for the research that is to come later in the book. In Chapter 1, Aldoory and Toth take time to define socio-ecological models and provide examples of how such models have been used, such as Shoemaker and Reese’s (1996) hierarchy of influences model that illustrates the multiple influences that shape media content. The authors then sharpen their focus on applying a socio-ecological model to public relations and present the first iteration of their model, which becomes the organizing structure for the remainder of the book. Chapter 2, aptly titled “The Backstory,” is beneficial to the book, especially if the reader is new to feminism and the academic study of public relations. The authors define public relations from various perspectives, including functional structuralist, rhetorical and critical, and postmodern. Aldoory and Toth then take to task the job of presenting the varying conceptualizations and approaches to feminism, reviewing feminist research, and discussing feminism communication theory. The chapter concludes with a section on intersectionality, presenting it as a method for considering “the multiplicative effects of identities and oppressions” (p. 31). 

Sections two through five are the heart and soul of the book where the authors start broadly, at the ideological level of the model, and work their way through the remaining levels of the proposed model, concluding with the practitioner level. Throughout the chapters in these sections, the authors take care to define key concepts, explain why they placed particular concepts in certain parts of the model, and present relevant research. For example, Chapter 3 focuses on the ideological level of the model and includes macro-level discussions of hegemony, capitalism, Marxism, classism, critical race theory, racism, feminism, sexism, heteronormativity, and homophobia. These high-level discussions about broader ideals are always brought back to how they are relevant to public relations. This structure allows Aldoory and Toth to provide the reader with a primer on the higher-level ideologies and return them to a public relations emphasis while presenting the reader with an overview of extant literature in these areas. Several chapters within this section include a case study to illustrate the main ideas presented in the chapter. For example, Chapter 9 consists of a case study, “The Feminist Fallacy” at the Practitioner Level, which the authors describe as “a discouraging yet cautionary case example of how feminism can be co-opted and designed to be against women’s better selves. This case shows the invisibility of class, education, race, and gender influences while also assuming a success story for women” (p. 151). 

Section six concludes the book with two chapters that includes a summary and a call to action, respectively. Chapter 11 was an interesting and thought-provoking read as Aldoory and Toth brought together women from different backgrounds and countries to discuss feminism, the challenges for women and people of color in public relations, and the proposed socio-ecological model. The chapter is devoted to highlights from a two-day discussion in which participants spoke candidly about issues like racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and bias in research. The scholars also weighed in on the socio-ecological model and suggested adjustments to the model so that the professional and organizational levels were moved, arguing that the organizational level has a more direct influence on the practitioner level than the professional level. Chapter 12 accounts for the authors’ changes to the model after receiving feedback from their peers. The book ends with a call to action, where Aldoory and Toth acknowledge this is not a definitive work but rather a call for continued 

professional and scholarly discourse that deepens an understanding of the problems of racism, sexism, and homophobia in public relations. The model here is new and has not been used before, but we hope it will become a helpful tool for future research. (p. 195)

Contribution to PR Education

Through a comprehensive overview of the extant literature on public relations and feminism and a model that serves as an organizing structure, Aldoory and Toth provide the reader with an introductory course on the state of feminist research in public relations and identify gaps in the research. Their book contributes to PR education by demonstrating the need for continued scholarly work that is more comprehensive and includes the experiences of women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and other marginalized groups not represented in the current body of research. They challenge scholars to critique the structures that uphold patriarchal values, limit change, and prohibit social justice. 


The Future of Feminism in Public Relations and Strategic Communication is an essential read especially for the new scholar interested in studying feminism, public relations, and strategic communication. The book’s structure lends itself well to be used as a text in a graduate seminar on public relations or feminism or as a researcher’s guide to previous scholarship. The book covers a variety of issues and perspectives on public relations and serves as an instruction manual for interpreting such problems and perspectives with a critical lens. The accessibility of the writing in this book would make it a practical addition to a graduate-level course.


In their discussion of intersectionality (Chapter 2), Aldoory and Toth write, “We believe in the criterion of reflexivity and promote it among our students and in our paper. Thus, for transparency and analysis purposes, we describe below some of our reflexive thoughts about our own feminism and how we came to be feminists” (p. 33). In that same spirit, I would like to disclose that, as a researcher, my studies are situated in the social scientific, empirical tradition, and I frequently seek opportunities to research with co-authors who specialize in qualitative methods. I find value using a mixed methods approach to research. I disclose this about myself because my one critique of this book is that as a feminist, I want to do research that answers the call put forth by Aldoory and Toth in the book, but there is limited guidance in how to do that from different research traditions. All scholars, including those of us whose work is more empirical, would benefit from the arguments made in this book about the need for more research to examine gender, class, race, and sexual orientation and should consider how to make our research methods more inclusive. Doing so would help us create a richer understanding of the public relations discipline. 


Aldoory and Toth took on the challenge to review and organize an entire body of literature in one book, and started a conversation on where the field should go next. My critique of The Future of Feminism in Public Relations and Strategic Communication came from a place of being inspired to want to do more to promote social justice and diversity, equity, and inclusion in public relations scholarship. But I also acknowledge that one book can’t be all things to all people. What makes this a compelling book is that it inspires with facts and information, and it shows the reader where we are in the field and how far we still have to go to create a body of knowledge that accounts for the experiences of people from varied backgrounds. 


Shoemaker, P., & Reese, S. D. (1996). Mediating the message: Theories of influences on mass media content (2nd ed.). Longman.

© Copyright 2022 AEJMC Public Relations Division

To cite this article: Watkins, B. (2022). The Future of Feminism in Public Relations and Strategic Communication [Review of the book The Future of Feminism in Public Relations and Strategic Communication]. Journal of Public Relations Education, 8(3), 145-150. https://aejmc.us/jpre/?p=3267

Social Media and Society: An Introduction to the Mass Media Landscape

Lindsay M. McCluskey, Ph.D., State University of New York at Oswego (SUNY Oswego)

Social Media and Society: An Introduction to the Mass Media Landscape
Authors: Regina Luttrell and Adrienne A. Wallace
Rowman & Littlefield, 2021
ISBN: 9781538129098
Number of pages: 256

Social Media and Society: An Introduction to the Mass Media Landscape is an excellent, timely, and straightforward resource for educators, students, and practitioners alike, including those with limited prior social media knowledge and experience. 

Structure and Organization

The book has 12 chapters and is divided into three parts: “Social Media Defined, Distinguished, and Delineated,” “Communication Contexts for Social Media,” and “Suggestions and Advice for Using Social Media.” The beginning of each chapter focuses the reader on the main learning objectives and a relevant scenario from the real world, and ends with a chapter wrap-up; useful critical-thinking questions and practically-oriented activities that could be implemented inside or outside of the classroom (including online); a list of key concepts; and a list of media sources. The authors also weave relevant theoretical concepts into the book through “In Theory” breakout sections that help readers apply theory to public relations practice in society. All of these thoughtful and practical details are among the central benefits of this well-researched, visually appealing book and are among what makes this book a clear and effective contribution to the body of public relations education. 

Part one, “Social Media Defined, Distinguished, and Delineated,” tackles how we define social media today, detailing the elements of Hlavac’s (2014) Social Media Pyramid – social networks, news aggregators, passion connections, video connections, thought leaders, and virtual communities in chapter one. This section also examines the “Dark Side” and the opportunities associated with social media. Chapter two on the “Dark Side” covers topics such as deepfakes, cyberbullying, trolling, fake news, privacy, disinformation, and hate speech, while also diving into domestic and foreign legislation related to social media and the negative psychological and physiological effects of social media. The final chapter in part one discusses the positive advantages of social media such as social connections, social support, the building of social capital, and the proliferation of trusted user-generated content. Chapter three covers social media’s positive contributions in research, big data, websleuthing, newsgathering, citizen journalism, and stakeholder communication, specifically through engagement. This chapter also includes ten helpful guidelines and recommendations for ethical and responsible personal and professional social media use, including: 1) “Know how the tools work;” 2) “Be aware of your social, geopolitical, and industry environments;” 3) “Evaluate before posting;” 4) “Use social media wisely;” 5) “Decide what is private and then act accordingly;” 6) “Understand the data so you can USE it;” 7) “Ask questions and self-regulate;” 8) “Consider your data collection behavior;” 9) “Don’t add to the drama;” and 10) “Take a hard line on the negative side of social media” (Luttrell & Wallace, 2021, pp. 44-46).

Part two, “Communication Contexts for Social Media,” discusses traditional and niche media and covers key mass communication theories such as gatekeeping and agenda-setting in chapter four. The remaining chapters in this section – chapters five through ten – explore the role and impact of social media across various public relations sectors, including business (chapter five), crisis (chapter six), sports (chapter seven), politics and civics (chapter eight), health (chapter nine), and entertainment (chapter ten). These chapters feature scene-setting scenarios and commentary involving Warby Parker, the CDC and COVID-19, broadcaster Mike Tirico, the Women’s March, #CaravanToCanada and #insulin4all, and Taylor Swift, demonstrating the broad relevance and importance of social media across industries and society.

Part three, “Suggestions and Advice for Using Social Media,” provides guidance regarding social media measurement and evaluation (chapter 11) and careers in social media strategy and management (chapter 12). Chapter 11 introduces readers to important concepts like organic media, paid media, vanity metrics, return on investment (ROI), and key performance indicators (KPIs), while differentiating between metrics and analytics. The authors offer details on Google Analytics, YouTube Analytics, Facebook Analytics, LinkedIn Analytics, Twitter Analytics, and Snapchat Analytics, including providing various visual figures from each platform to assist readers with understanding the concepts introduced in the text. Chapter 12 highlights the skills necessary to work in the social media field, which the authors identify as “writing; data, analytics and trend spotting; and creativity, strategy, and planning” (Luttrell & Wallace, 2021, p. 183). The authors note that those who want to be successful in social media careers must be cognizant of trends as social media evolves and they provide readers with some tools that can help them remain up to date on new and emerging developments. The final chapter is resource-rich, directing readers to a variety of supplemental websites aimed at allowing them to further enhance their professional development and experiential learning in the aforementioned skill areas. 

Strengths and Weaknesses

A strength of this book is that it is written in a more informal and conversational manner than many academic works, thus making it user-friendly and enjoyable for students, faculty, and future or current practitioners, including those with limited knowledge of or experience with social media at the outset. Future editions of this book could be improved with chapters on public relations sectors such as technology, hospitality, travel and tourism, lifestyle, beauty, and fashion as social media are integral to these industries. Though this book features some examples from brands like Gucci and CoverGirl, additional standalone chapters on these popular public relations sectors would provide greater depth to an already robust resource. Furthermore, part three could benefit from incorporating content on diversity, equity, and inclusion either as a standalone chapter or by integrating this important topic into the existing chapter frameworks. Additionally, the authors may consider adding more public relations-focused theories in the future.   

The authors note that the goal of the book is to “engage students as consumers and creators of social media by providing a framework for understanding and connection among social media, mass communications, and the impact on society” (Luttrell & Wallace, 2021, p. vii). They have succeeded, and I recommend this book without hesitation as a required or suggested reading in undergraduate courses such as survey of public relations, introduction to mass media, mass media and society, social media strategy, social media and society, and more. The book can be used in its entirety or adopted for its applicable sections or chapters, depending on curriculum and pedagogical needs. 


Hlavac, R. (2014). Social IMC: Social strategies with bottom-line ROI. CreateSpace.

© Copyright 2022 AEJMC Public Relations Division

To cite this article: McCluskey, L.M. (2022). Social Media and Society: An Introduction to the Mass Media Landscape [Review of the book Social Media and Society: An Introduction to the Mass Media Landscape]. Journal of Public Relations Education, 8(3), 140-144. https://aejmc.us/jpre/?p=3261

A Practical Guide to Ethics in Public Relations

Lois A. Boynton, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

A Practical Guide to Ethics in Public Relations
Authors: Regina Luttrell & Jamie Ward
Rowman & Littlefield, 2018
ISBN: 9781442272743

The Commission on Public Relations Education’s (2018) Fast Forward report recommended colleges and universities require an ethics course for undergraduate public relations majors distinct from media law and media ethics classes. A year later, the Ethics Education Report (Bortree et al., 2019) proposed learning outcomes and topics that a stand-alone public relations ethics course should cover. 

Although the Ethics Education Report (Bortree et al., 2019) doesn’t list Luttrell and Ward’s book as a recommended text, A Practical Guide to Ethics in Public Relations covers most proposed topics, including decision-making approaches, ethics codes, loyalties, digital challenges, corporate social responsibility, and crisis communication. It also addresses the Report’s 10 learning outcomes such as the ability to create a personal ethics code, analyze competing duties, identify ethical problems, and defend ethical decisions. 

There’s another reason to pick up the appropriately named Practical Guide to Ethics in Public Relations.

Textbooks very often are passive vehicles for pushing content. Luttrell and Ward take a different approach, incorporating brief cases within each chapter to help students become active readers who answer questions and apply concepts as they go. 

Eight of the nine chapters begin with a public relations ethics expert Q&A. The four women and four men answer the same seven questions about needed ethical skills, potential for competing loyalties and other dilemmas, and what ethical challenges entry-level practitioners should anticipate. Although there is a gender balance, other elements of diversity are not as evident.  

The first two chapters provide ethics foundations and theories for use in the profession. In Chapter 1, the authors define ethics and professional values and show how public relations has evolved from manipulative spin to a profession that generally values public service more than self-service. They also describe philosophical approaches including utilitarianism, categorical imperatives, libertarianism, and virtue ethics that can guide reason-based decision-making. Readers are encouraged to develop a personal code of ethics and “see where your beliefs fit with other ethical theorists” (p. 21). 

Chapter 2 introduces readers to ethics codes for public relations and the allied fields of marketing and journalism and poses a series of questions for code comparison. The authors further point out that code provisions can compete and do not provide the answer to the types of ethical dilemmas public relations practitioners face. 

Chapters 3-8 each tackle a PRSA Code of Ethics professional value: advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty, and fairness. Finally, chapter 9 includes five award-winning Arthur W. Page Society Competition case studies for discussion and analysis. All chapters discuss the ethical implications and complexities of social media use. 

Interspersed in the chapters are familiar ethical decision-making models: the Potter Box, the TARES Test, Sherry Baker’s five baselines for ethical advocacy, Ruth Edgett’s 10 criteria for desirable advocacy,  and Frank Navran’s six-step model. 

Luttrell and Ward also introduce their own PURE ethical decision-making model, designed to help entry-level practitioners “apply a multitude of theories and easily assess outcomes” (p. 59). Decision-makers begin by identifying personal and organizational Principles, followed by an assurance that these principles are also Universal standards. Third, practitioners should value the Rights of the client as well as stakeholders. Lastly, they must ethically justify the recommended End Result. They utilize the PURE model to guide case assessments throughout the text. 

While many cases are obviously right vs. wrong situations (e.g., Hill & Knowlton’s misinformation campaign to garner public support for the 1990s Iraq War and Justine Sacco’s racist tweet), others reflect real-world dilemmas:  whether to be a ghostwriter, Germany’s campaign to lead pedophiles to treatment, and the challenges PAO Paula Pedene faced blowing the whistle on Phoenix VA leaders. 

One area to expand is public relations’ ethical responsibilities surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion—a content topic recommended in the Ethics Education Report (Bortree et al., 2019).  Additionally, the Commission’s Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion report (2019) highlights the need to “incorporate discussion of racial and gender differences in the public relations industry in all major courses” (p. 3). Articles and studies refer to our profession’s ongoing challenge to include diverse voices (e.g., Johnson, 2018; Landis, 2019; “Millennials,” n.d.; Muturi & Zhu, 2019; Simpson, 2018), so textbooks that explicitly encourage these conversations will better prepare students for their future in public relations. 

A Practical Guide to Ethics in Public Relations is not devoid of diversity and inclusion content, however. Chapter 9 lists ethics resource links to the National Black Public Relations Association and Hispanic Public Relations Association, and Chapter 2 includes ethics codes from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in the United Kingdom and the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa.  Case study 3 in chapter 9 presents the Starbucks Race Together Initiative. 

There are areas where diversity references could be expanded. For example, the discussion of Rawls’ veil of ignorance refers to the gender wage gap; factoring in gaps (wage and otherwise) facing people of color, those with disabilities, LGBTQ+ individuals, among others, would strengthen essential discussions and lay foundations to build a more-diverse profession. The discussion of the Flint Water Crisis could include practitioners’ obligations to discuss institutional biases and power inequality. Similarly, the Justine Sacco case provides her perspectives but doesn’t invite expert comment on larger racial and professional implications.

Additionally, it will be important for instructors to delineate Kohlberg’s stages of moral development from ethical approaches of Mill, Kant, and others.  While we may choose to make a decision based on consequences or duties, we do not get to select our stage of moral development. Additionally, Kohlberg’s approach should be counterbalanced with Carol Gilligan’s ethics of care to address potential gender differences. 

In all, however, this is a valuable addition to a rather small pool of public relations ethics textbooks. Its active reading approach with plenty of case examples makes it appropriate for college undergraduates who have taken at least an introductory public relations course.  And, importantly, it’s affordable. 

Keeping ethical obligations at the forefront of public relations practice is paramount to the success of the newest generation of professionals. A Practical Guide to Ethics in Public Relations gives students a leg up not only to prepare them for individual success but also to contribute to the collective realization of public relations as an ethically sound profession.

Works Cited

Bortree, D., Bowen, S. A., Silverman, D., & Sriramesh, K. (2018, April). Ethics: The distinctive commitment that defines public relations as a respected profession. In Fast Forward: Foundations + future state. Educators + practitioners: The Commission on Public Relations Education 2017 report on undergraduate education (pp. 65-69). Commission on Public Relations Education. http://www.commissionpred.org/commission-reports/fast-forward-foundations-future-state-educators-practitioners/

CPRE Diversity and Inclusion Report (2019). Commission on Public Relations Education. Retrieved June 15, 2020 from http://www.commissionpred.org/commission-reports/cpre-diversity-inclusion-report/.

Clark, K. (2019, July 29). Why diversity and inclusion programs are failing. PR Dailyhttps://www.prdaily.com/why-diversity-and-inclusion-programs-are-failing/

Commission on Public Relations Education (2018). Fast forward: Foundations + future state. Educators + practitioners: The Commission on Public Relations Education 2017 report on undergraduate education. http://www.commissionpred.org/commission-reports/fast-forward-foundations-future-state-educators-practitioners/

Johnson, K. (2018, October 29). Tackling the lack of diversity in the public relations industry. Black Enterprise. https://www.blackenterprise.com/lack-of-diversity-public-relations/ 

Landis, K. (2019, March 19). The public relations industry is too white and the solution starts with higher education. Insight into Diversity. https://www.insightintodiversity.com/the-public-relations-industry-is-too-white-and-the-solution-starts-with-higher-education/

Millennials, diversity and inclusion in the public relations industry. (n.d.). The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. http://plankcenter.ua.edu/resources/webinars/millennials-diversity-and-inclusion-in-the-public-relations-industry/

Muturi, N., & Zhu, G. (2019). Students’ perceptions of diversity issues in public relations practice. Journal of Public Relations Education 5(2). Retrieved June 15, 2020, fromhttps://aejmc.us/jpre/2019/08/17/students-perceptions-of-diversity-issues-in-public-relations-practice/

Simpson, P. (2018, February 2). What it’s like to be Black in PR. PRWeekhttps://www.prweek.com/article/1456118/8ts-black-pr.

© Copyright 2020 AEJMC Public Relations Division

To cite this article: Boyton, L.A. (2020). A Practical Guide to Ethics in Public Relations. [Review of the book A Practical Guide to Ethics in Public Relations, by R. Luttrell & J. Ward].  Journal of Public Relations Education, 6(3), 106-111. http://aejmc.us/jpre/2020/12/22/a-practical-guide-to-ethics-in-public-relations/

Lifescale: How to Live a More Creative, Productive, and Happy Life

Amanda J. Weed, Kennesaw State University

Lifescale: How to Live a More Creative, Productive, and Happy Life
Author: Brian Solis
SBN: 9781119535867
Wiley, 2019

As one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital and emerging technologies, Brian Solis is well-known for his evangelical advocacy for the integration of digital media strategies into innovative business practices. In Lifescale: How to Live a More Creative, Productive, and Happy Life, Solis looks at digital media through a more pragmatic lens to examine how those technologies can have unforeseen impacts on our daily lives.

As digital media becomes interwoven into our media consumption habits, it dramatically impacts our productivity and our relationships. We become chained in a perpetual cycle of responding to app notifications, emails, social media posts, and text messages. When we look at the clock, we can often be left scratching our heads, wondering where the day went. Solis addresses research-based insights into the “addictive” nature of digital technology and empowers the reader to rethink their media consumption to improve productivity and spark creative potential. 

Organization of the Book

Solis presents the chapters of this 304-page book as a journey of self-discovery, complete with a visual roadmap at the very beginning of the book. He begins this exploratory journey by identifying how digital media is intertwined into our daily activities, why we are motivated to engage so frequently with digital media, and how digital is designed to keep us “hooked.” According to Solis (2019):

Every day we do our best to navigate life and keep up with our personal and professional responsibilities, but at the end of each day, we’re still fighting to complete our self-imposed to-do lists, both at work and at home, a hamster-wheel process that detracts from our longer-term goals and dreams. (p. 14)

As the chapters unfold, Solis continues the journey by leading the reader through various paths of self-discovery (or re-discovery) that focus on personal values, goals, and childlike dreams. What does that have to do with digital media, you might ask? The underlying thread throughout this book is that we often conform to the expectations of digital media (especially social media) as our internal measuring stick to determine our values and behaviors, rather than heeding our inner voice. 

In the final chapters, Solis shares how disconnection from our inner purpose can be the Achilles heel that allows distractions, multitasking, and nagging self-doubt to derail us from our goals. He reminds the reader to be mindful and live in the moment to understand we are part of something larger, and to reflect on what we want our contribution to be in this world.

He describes the concept of the “pillars of purpose,” how those pillars should be the compass to the roadmap of self-discovery, and tapping into those pillars to focus personal energy in positive directions. Solis (2019) explains:

Harder than making change is recognizing and accepting our need for it. Doing so requires us to acknowledge that so much of what we’ve been doing has gotten us off course. Deep down, we know that there are ways in which we have not been helping ourselves, or have even been shooting ourselves in the foot. (p. 178)

Strengths and Weaknesses

Solis’ writing style is conversational and welcoming.  Each chapter feels like having coffee with a cherished mentor. Solis shares self-discovery exercises and unique tools to guide the reader through self-awareness and maximizing creative productivity. Lifescale is full of examples that fulfill the three Rs: recognizable, relatable, and relevant. From personal anecdotes to stories of well-known corporate leaders, this book places advice and tips into a real-world context.  That strength doubles as a weakness, though. While there are many examples and anecdotes about well-known public figures, there is a lack of representation of the average person. By blending examples of public figures and everyday people (especially young professionals), it might increase the sense that the advice imparted by Solis is accessible to everyone, not just those who have already achieved success in their field.

Contributions of this Book

While not a textbook in the traditional sense, Lifescale is an excellent addition to the public relations curriculum because it encourages the reader to “know thyself.” This is one of the most important lessons students need to be successful in school, in their careers, and in life.

This book would make an excellent addition to the public relations curriculum in an introductory course, a portfolio or capstone class, or even as a recommended read for PRSSA chapters.  The advice, exercises, and tools shared by Solis will enhance students’ ability to create a personal brand, effectively balance the demands of student life, and successfully navigate their first industry jobs.

© Copyright 2020 AEJMC Public Relations Division

To cite this article: Weed, A. (2020). Lifescale: How to live a more creative, productive, and happy life. [Review of the book Lifescale: How to live a more creative, productive, and happy life, by B. Solis].  Journal of Public Relations Education, 6(2), 205-207. http://aejmc.us/jpre/2020/08/13/lifescale-how-to-live-a-more-creative-productive-and-happy-life/

Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto

Matthew LeHew, Dalton State College

Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto
Author: Kevin M. Gannon
West Virginia University Press, 2020
ISBN: 978-1949199512

The curveballs thrown to us in 2020 have highlighted inequities in our culture and our need to harness adaptable pedagogy. The former is nothing new. The Working Group on Diversity & Inclusion for the Commission on Public Relations Education (2018) found that the demographics of the academy do not match the diversity found in PR practitioner communities. The working group made recommendations regarding forming a more diverse pipeline for PR higher education, but also acknowledged that work must be done in the classroom to provide a more equitable educational experience. How, then, are we to juggle both the call for equality in both our culture and classrooms alongside the need to reformat our courses to shift modalities at a moment’s notice? Many answers and suggestions can be found in Kevin M. Gannon’s Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto.

Gannon’s (2020) recommendation for grappling with these crises is to reject the act of teaching as a means for information transfer and embrace it as a more holistically transformative process. He urges the reader to reject the all-too-common “jaded detachment” (p. 3) found within the academic community and embrace the titular sense of “radical hope” that compels us to strive to create better futures for our students. At first, this process doesn’t seem particularly novel, since academe has long paid lip service to the liberal arts education as an educational process dedicated to educating the “whole person.” What is truly novel—and appropriate for our present circumstances—is Gannon’s insistence that we actually embody this notion in the classroom.

The property of “radical hope” is explained by Gannon (2020) in his introduction:

The very acts of trying to teach well, of adopting a critically reflective practice to improve our teaching and our students’ learning, are radical, in that word’s literal sense: they are endeavors aimed at fundamental, root-level transformation. And they are acts of hope because they imagine that process of transformation as one in which a better future takes shape out of our students’ critical refusal to abide the limitations of the present. (p. 5)

At the core of the “radical hope” paradigm of teaching is the concept of praxis. Gannon leans upon Paulo Freire’s conceptualization of praxis as a blend of reflection and action. We should be continuously reflecting on our teaching practices and using our observations to update how we engage with our students. Driving home the point that “treating all students equally was not the same thing as treating all students equitably” (p. 30), Gannon (2020) pushes faculty to take a more active role in education, one in which the educator abandons the false idol of neutrality—“Neutrality is a luxury of the comfortable,” he says (p. 21)—and intentionally prioritizes compassion and inclusion.

Dr. Gannon isn’t new to these concepts. As a professor of history and director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa, Gannon has long been sounding a clarion call for an increased critical and inclusive pedagogy, making him distinctly suited to address the needs of higher education in the current moment. He has traveled to campuses across North America as a consultant and speaker and was interviewed as part of Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated documentary 13th. As COVID-19 forces us to reconsider long-entrenched teaching paradigms, and nationwide protests against systemic racism drive us to seek justice in how we serve our students, the principles Gannon lays out in his manifesto can play a big role in guiding us to these objectives.

Structure and Organization

Gannon (2020) starts his work by listing the woes of higher education, such as suffering from financial struggles that are “the fruit of a neoliberal, market-driven ideology with little room for the notion of a public good” (p. 1). While he provides an array of examples to support this characterization, any reader who remains skeptical need only examine the scattershot “plans” to reopen campuses during a pandemic, the product of an optimism that can only come from willful ignorance.

After his introduction, Gannon devotes 10 chapters to exploring 10 specific educational principles or concepts that can be upheld as either aspirational beliefs or examples of a status quo begging to be torn down. The first chapter, “Classrooms of Death,” modernizes a phrase coined by N. F. S. Grundtvig to describe schools that offered an education irrelevant to the lives of most students. How then, Gannon asks, are we supposed to ensure that the education we offer contributes to the “life” of society, turning out individuals with not only knowledge but also a sense of civic responsibility and efficacy? Using the August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville as a key example, Gannon charges educators to assert the incompatibility between white nationalism and the successful navigation of the academic sphere of higher education. Knowledge creation, Gannon argues, is insufficient for valuable higher education. The subsequent processes of analyzing and internalizing learned knowledge must also be guided by the professor. As Gannon (2020) states, “simply introducing knowledge into the public sphere and then abdicating any role in what happens to it afterward is at best highly problematic; at worst, it’s wildly irresponsible” (p. 16). This emphasis on actively investing in both the student and the learning process is also manifest in the next chapter, which focuses on communication of expectations in everyday teaching practice. It is in this chapter that Gannon begins to craft his argument that the idealized form of the professor as wise orator must give way to a more compassionate figure. Proudly exclaiming that a course requires a certain caliber of student— especially in blind devotion to the idea of “rigor”—does not represent an earnest investment in students’ futures.

In each subsequent chapter, Gannon continues the case for actively sowing the seeds for transformative learning. He takes special care to urge the reader toward inclusivity by actively challenging them to consider how even widely-accepted teaching practices may exclude students with disabilities or those who come from nontraditional backgrounds. The text also challenges the reader to avoid some of the cultural pitfalls found in teaching higher education. For example, while venting about students in closed-door meetings may have a cathartic benefit, it can spiral out of control and cement the notion of an adversarial relationship between professor and student. On that note, Gannon points out the current trend of faculty members subtweeting their students by pointing out their more absurd behavior in a virtual public space. While it may promote a foxhole camaraderie amongst educators, what does it communicate to the students who stumble across these objects of ridicule—especially the students whose work or confusion is being displayed for all to mock?

The areas ripe for praxis are numerous, and Gannon identifies them in the elements of our profession both technical and traditional. By pointing out how the digital platforms we use may isolate certain students, he encourages faculty to develop curricula that utilize the platforms to their full extent, offering different types of learning experiences for students to utilize and minimizing technical issues that may exclude certain students. To accomplish this, he advocates implementing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles. Additionally, Gannon devotes an entire chapter to the syllabus and how it communicates a host of expectations to students beyond its text. The current emphasis on syllabus-as-legal-document is counterproductive, he insists, advocating for the “promising syllabus” approach pioneered by Ken Bain instead. “The promising syllabus has student learning, not instructors or institutions, firmly at its center. This is a subtle, seemingly simple shift, but one that has extraordinary consequences” (Gannon, 2020, p. 99).

Gannon’s final chapter focuses on three specific words that can dramatically change the classroom: “I don’t know.” Pointing out the pandemic of imposter syndrome found in the academy, he argues that admitting the lack of knowledge on a particular subject fosters a more collaborative relationship between professors and students, demonstrating that not knowing an answer—and subsequently finding it—is healthier than pretending to know it all along. Removing the academic pomp and circumstance and sense of detachment encourages us to wield our pedagogy as a gift, not a weapon.

Contribution to Higher Education, Especially in Public Relations

Written in a tone that is startlingly succinct, yet resonant with raw emotion, Gannon’s points are amplified by his tone of strong, even forceful, optimism. He takes care to encourage the reader as he goes through his points, chipping away at the calcified resentment and despair that is all too common among educators. Even when challenging the reader, Gannon’s focus on edification and a mutual goal with the reader discourages any defensive objections from taking hold.

The work is further aided by the timing of its release. Shortly after publication, COVID-19 upended everything we thought we could expect from a semester. Suddenly, many of us were faced with a teaching modality we had never planned to use. All of us had to make decisions regarding the balance of rigor and compassion in the midst of circumstances we hadn’t anticipated. Shortly after that, the nationwide protests against systemic racism elevated a conversation long overdue in every discipline, including and especially public relations. Gannon’s work provides elements of a blueprint that can help us avoid simply using the present events as case study fodder and move toward an educational paradigm pointed at intentional inclusivity. It has certainly encouraged this reviewer to abandon the false pretense of “neutrality” when teaching PR and work to form students who will be most likely to make positive, significant contributions to our world’s social health.

The impact of Gannon’s points are assisted by the work’s length. He describes it as a “manifesto,” and the term proves accurate, as Radical Hope is a short work that many could complete in a day. The book avoids wasting pages working up to a point too slowly. Instead, the reader is welcomed with rapidly developing arguments that build on the core calls for inclusivity, compassion, and praxis in pedagogy.

The brevity is a double-edged sword, however, as Gannon can move on to the next point while leaving the reader wanting to explore the previous argument in more detail. This is most apparent when discussing UDL, as Gannon only provides one concrete example of a UDL practice: formatting material to be easily parsed by screen readers for the blind. While a fantastic example of something readily accomplishable before the next semester, this reviewer was left curious for more examples, even as far as to pause reading the book to go seek out more avenues for UDL. Even brief mentions of techniques to accommodate spectrums other than those involving people with disabilities would have strengthened the argument. For example, Gannon could have explored UDL techniques meant to accommodate students without reliable access to the internet, which would have been remarkably prescient given the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is no shortage of prescriptive works aiming to improve either the performance or lives of those serving in higher education, making it all the more rare when a book stands out to the degree that Radical Hope does. The book could not have been released at a more ideal time, making it required reading for those of us struggling to figure out how to adjust and balance our work this fall. At times both challenging and affirming, Radical Hope provides a clear path to helping us tackle the present and adapt to the future.


Commission on Public Relations Education. (2018). Fast forward: Foundations + future state. Educators + practitioners: The Commission on Public Relations Education 2017 report on undergraduate education. http://www.commissionpred.org/ commission-reports/fast-forward-foundations-future-state-educators-practitioners/

© Copyright 2020 AEJMC Public Relations Division

To cite this article: LeHew, M. (2020). Radical hope: A teaching manifesto. [Review of the book Radical hope: A teaching manifesto, by K. Gannon].  Journal of Public Relations Education, 6(2), 193-199. http://aejmc.us/jpre/2020/08/13/radical-hope-a-teaching-manifesto/

Social Media for Strategic Communication: Creative Strategies and Research-Based Applications

Geah Pressgrove, West Virginia University

Social Media for Strategic Communication: Creative Strategies and Research-Based Applications
Author: Karen Freberg 
Sage, 2018
ISBN: 9781506387109

In the last 15 years, a veritable explosion of social media channels has entered and forever changed the practice of public relations. What does this mean for public relations educators? Well, if you are committed to preparing students for careers, it likely means you are constantly evolving your pedagogical approach. While our ethos of ethically building mutually beneficial relationships remains foundational, preparing students for the digital landscape means that we, as professors, need to consider how this fast-paced environment impacts students’ ability to think strategically and effectively produce content. In fact, the most recent Commission on Public Relations Education report (2018) indicates that employers are most concerned about what entry-level practitioners can produce and do, including writing for the web. Further, the report indicates that social media is the most highly rated technology-curriculum topic by practitioners. 

In the book, Social Media for Strategic Communication: Creative Strategies and Research-Based Applications, Karen Freberg (2018), associate professor of Strategic Communication at the University of Louisville, takes a comprehensive approach to preparing students to produce social media content and enabling them to compete for industry positions with a social media focus. In the book, Freberg draws both on research and practitioner insights from various disciplines. Focusing on strategies, behaviors and mindset, the text is both a guidebook and resource for professor, practitioner and student alike. Based on her own research, experience teaching social media and significant professional connections, Freberg’s text takes the guesswork out of how to approach and teach strategic social media. 

Book’s Composition and Organization 

The book is thoughtfully organized into three parts, first focusing on foundations, followed by strategies, and concluding with careers. In the first part, Freberg frames strategic use of social media as both an art and science, then takes the reader through the ethical and legal considerations of communicating on social media. At the conclusion of part one, the text reinforces the importance of research by reviewing social media monitoring, listening and analysis. This framework is then built on throughout the remainder of the text. 

In part two, the focus is on strategy-based campaign planning concepts ranging from audience segmentation and writing for social media to budgeting, calendaring and evaluation. Importantly, Freberg does not propose that strategic planning for social media is different from public relations.  Instead, she expands on foundational concepts taught across the core of public relations curriculum.  For instance, the first chapter of part two of the text takes readers through the strategic campaign planning process using language that should be familiar to any public relations student.  The following chapters dive more deeply into each step and expand on the topics in a social media-specific context, including areas such as influencers, creators, managing and curating content, and common writing mistakes on social media. 

In part three, the focus is on ensuring the reader understands the pervasive role of social media by covering specializations as diverse as entertainment, crisis communication, sports, nonprofit, health care and international communication. Concluding in this way allows the reader to consider how all they have learned could be applied in different disciplines and myriad interests.  

Book’s Strengths and Weaknesses 

As you read this review, you may be asking yourself if a book published in 2018 can remain relevant and current. The answer is yes. Rather than focusing on platform features and trends, this text offers a clear framework for developing a strategic mindset. For example, each chapter of the text begins with a “Humans of Social Media” feature that introduces the reader to thought leaders in the field. Rather than aging like so many social media case studies, these interviews provide industry relevant insights that frame the chapter content. 

The utility of the text is further strengthened by the use of tables and figures that break up what could be dense reading and provide quick reference to key concepts. For example, tables that provide a comparative glimpse at performance metrics reinforce the importance of advanced and behavioral metrics as compared to basic metrics (e.g., likes, followers). Other tables offer examples for students to reflect on (e.g., sample vision statements, sample content calendars), while others offer templates for their own efforts (e.g., social media audits, content templates). Further, the thought questions and exercises that conclude each chapter offer ready-made discussion prompts and assignments that apply chapter learning outcomes to real-world scenarios. 

One critique of the text could be the lack of emphasis on paid social media strategies. There are presently a few pages dedicated to the topic in the budgeting section of Chapter 10. Additional passing reference to paid content is included in relevant chapters. However, I would argue that with algorithms limiting organic reach, this topic is central to a strategic social media mindset. To overcome this limitation in my own courses, I have supplemented with digital certifications and simulation-type activities that provide a more well-rounded view. A more comprehensive discussion of the role of paid social media seems an appropriate addition for future editions of the text.

While the book provides an in-depth review of important topics like ethics and legal fundamentals, a second area for improvement would be an enhanced focus on diversity related content.  For instance, including accessibility guides and multicultural perspectives would be valuable in the sections focused on understanding the target audience. Additionally, examples that highlight model approaches to equity focused social media communication would help students understand best practices. Further, lifting up diverse voices in the “Humans of Social Media” profiles and resources would also improve students’ understanding of strategic social media careers. 

Who Would Benefit from Reading this Book?

When considering textbooks for a strategic social media course at my institution, I compiled a comprehensive list and narrowed the options to four possible texts. I then gathered a group of a dozen students from varying classes across the public relations curriculum and allowed them to review and offer their thoughts on the options. The students unanimously chose the Freberg text because of low cost and ease of reading, as well as features like interviews with industry insiders, tables that synthesize key topics, and an abundance of resources. I shared their sentiment and the text has now been used with high praise from students and instructors alike for three semesters.

In addition to a foundational text for social media courses, the practical insights and research-based approach of this book makes it appropriate for instructors looking to supplement their other public relations courses or activities. For example, I have referenced chapters related to monitoring, listening, and analysis in a research methods course. The book’s sections on strategic planning, budgeting, evaluation, and calendaring provide an additional resource for students developing campaign plans, such as those for the capstone. The content related to writing offers supplemental insights for a public relations writing course, or sections of a broader writing course seeking more specialized modules. This text is also useful outside of the traditional classroom. For example, the professional branding content has proved useful as part of programming for the Public Relations Student Society of America at my college. Also, I have encouraged graduates starting careers with a social media role to purchase the text as a reference guide. 

Overall, this text has been well worth the financial investment for me, my students, and my graduates.  


Commission on Public Relations Education. (2018). Fast forward: Foundations + future state. Educators + practitioners: The Commission on Public Relations Education 2017 report on undergraduate education. http://www.commissionpred.org/ commission-reports/fast-forward-foundations-future-state-educators-practitioners/

© Copyright 2020 AEJMC Public Relations Division

To cite this article: Pressgrove, G. (2020). Social media for strategic communication: Creative strategies and research-based applications.  Journal of Public Relations Education, 6(2), 200-204. http://aejmc.us/jpre/2020/08/13/social-media-for-strategic-communication-creative-strategies-and-research-based-applications/

Journal of Public Relations Education, Volume 6, Issue 1

Note from the Editor-in-Chief:
We are pleased to share Volume 6, Issue 1, which offers our readers three research articles,
two teaching briefs and two book reviews. The articles cover a variety of topics: public
diplomacy training around the world, a comparison of expectations for PR graduates made
by practitioners at different levels in their careers, and suggestions for helping students
increase their knowledge and confidence in using statistics. We believe you will gain both
inspiration and guidance from the teaching briefs, as they explore multicultural training
through writing assignments and building recognition of the connections within and across
personal networks. Finally, the book reviews offer helpful insights into how these two books
might fit into your classes.

The editorial team expanded in November 2019 to include Dr. Kelly Vibber. We are grateful
to have her join us as Dr. Lucinda Austin transitions deeper into leadership within the
AEJMC PR Division. Dr. Austin has been a great help these past 2 years and will be missed.
I am thankful for this entire team, which invests countless hours into proofreading,
formatting and preparing each issue. Their service to the field is greatly appreciated. I also want to express my gratitude to our reviewers who offer useful advice through the blind-
review process and help us maintain a solid reputation. Thank you!

Emily S. Kinsky

Current Issue

Research Articles

Training International Public Relations Teams: Active Learning in a Multinational Context
by Bond Benton, Montclair State University

Curriculum Rebuilding in Public Relations: Understanding what Early Career, Mid-Career, and Senior PR/Communications Professionals Expect from PR Graduates
by Arunima Krishna, Donald K. Wright, & Raymond L. Kotcher, Boston University

Demystifying Data: A Constructivist Approach to Teaching Statistical Concepts Using SPSS
by Lauren Bayliss, Georgia Southern University

Teaching Briefs

Learning about Diversity Worldwide: How a Social Media Writing Assignment Provides Students with Multicultural Perspectives
by Arhlene A. Flowers, Ithaca College

Implementation of Active Learning Techniques in an Undergraduate Public Relations Course: Comparing Individual Social Networks and Brand Communities
by Corrie A. Wilder, Washington State University

Book Reviews

Public Relations Campaigns: An Integrated Approach
Reviewed by Brandi Watkins, Virginia Tech University

Teach Social Media: A Plan for Creating a Course Your Students Will Love
Reviewed by Natalie T. J. Tindall, Lamar University

Read the full issue here:

A publication of the Public Relations Division of AEJMC Copyright 2020 AEJMC Public Relations Division

The Journal of Public Relations Education (JPRE) is devoted to the presentation of research and commentary that advance the field of public relations education. JPRE invites submissions in the following three categories:

  • Research Articles
  • Teaching Briefs
  • Book/Software Reviews

Learn more by visiting the About JPRE page and the Authors/Contributors page for submission guidelines. All submissions should follow the guidelines of the most recent edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA).

Questions? Contact the Editorial Staff.

Teach Social Media: A Plan for Creating a Course Your Students Will Love


Natalie T. J. Tindall, Lamar University

Teach Social Media: A Plan for Creating a Course Your Students Will Love

Author: Matthew J. Kushin

ISBN: 978-1088489918


If you didn’t know this already, prepare to be shocked. Teaching public relations and strategic communication in this multimodal, multimedia world is a hard job. Beyond grading and the actual physical act of teaching, those of us who profess for a living also have to maintain a connection to industry, understand and manage new trends and platforms (hello, virtual reality, Discord, and TikTok), as well as attempt to make sure we cover the knowledge, skills, and abilities that students will need in the “real world.” It feels like we can never bridge the gap between what we can teach in our courses (which may be regulated through curriculum committees, accreditation standards, and semester/quarter time constraints) and what practitioners want. The Commission on Public Relations Education’s most recent report (2018) noted that employers are concerned about the skills and abilities of incoming practitioners and what they can produce and do with (and without) those competencies. This sentiment echoes what other associations have reported. Lum (2017), in the ANA’s Educational Foundation’s report on the talent gap, wrote:

College and university curricula cannot keep pace with the rapid change going on in the industry. Course work and textbooks are out of date almost as soon as they’re published, and much that is taught about marketing and communications is outdated and unrelated to management expectations and students’ actual experience in the field. (p. 2)

Social media is one of those skill sets that many employers desire and professors must teach. Several academics, such as Sandra Duhe, Karen Freberg, and Carolyn Mae Kim, have written books that provide guidance on social media best practices, campaign development, message development and theory. What has been lacking is how instructors deploy these into a classroom environment. How should social media be taught, and what content, strategies, and approaches can we use in the classroom to not only teach social media but have students apply it? A new addition to that crop of books is Matt Kushin’s Teach Social Media, a tome that doesn’t traverse the same material as earlier books.

Contributions of the Book

Thanks to Kushin, we have a new book that fills the missing piece on classroom deployment. For a long time, Kushin has generously shared his time and expertise via his blog, and now this book fleshes out how to operate and manage a social media class. Teach Social Media builds a bridge between the university curricula and the demands of your classroom. Teach Social Media is a teaching preparation guidebook that offers a template for laddering students’ theoretical knowledge, application skills, and implementation capabilities. Few academics learned how to teach emerging social media or how to develop a social media class in an ever-evolving media environment. These factors collide when we are asked to lead, take over, and develop a social media course. The genius of this book is that Kushin walks you through the phases of the class from the start when you, as the professor, are determining what you want your students to learn through each week of the semester. Teach Social Media is not focused on the how-to’s of social media, nor is it a highly theoretical tome. It’s a book that offers the fundamentals for scaffolding and implementing an introductory social media course. It provides adaptable, ready-to-use class lectures and assignments on learning outcomes focused on knowledge, skills, and abilities to guide the course and each lesson.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Book

One of the strengths of the book is the format of each chapter. Building a new course is challenging. Luckily, Kushin lays out a 15-week semester plan for the reader. The first chapter acclimates the reader. Each subsequent chapter follows a pattern; also, each chapter has a full appendix. Applying theory and practice into courses is what many of us claim to do. Kushin offers a framework that encapsulates contemplation, reflection, and action. The WWHDR framework presented with each unit provides the professor with a way to plan his or her lessons. Some teaching books drown you in theory and case. This book encourages interactivity with the text. The goal with the book and Kushin’s overall philosophy is not to just acquire knowledge but to put that knowledge into constructive and beneficial use. The strategy chapter (Chapter 5) and the onboarding chapter (Chapter 1) were eye-openers. Rarely does one get the chance to see how others assimilate the students to a course or teach strategy. It was refreshing to see how his thinking takes the first days of class away from the standard “introduce yourself and review the syllabus” into substantive discussions about the structure of the course and the overarching “why” guiding the class.

One of the book’s weaknesses is accessibility. What I liked about the book (and I bought the hard copy edition via Amazon) is you have ebook access, which includes all assignments mentioned in the book. However, only Kindle users will have access to the ebook, which is great for Amazon book users but frustratingly terrible for others. The book does not have an index, which makes it difficult if you need to zoom to a particular place. For several years there have been broader discussions about trolling (#yourslipisshowing as an early example that is still relevant today), race and diversity in Web 2.0, and digital blackface. Given the issues with memes from a branding and a diversity aspect, I do wish that these matters had been covered in the course materials. Our students will act as brand ambassadors and communicators, and these matters are real-life, real-time situations they will need to diagnose, manage, or extinguish. Giving students and ourselves more room to work through these issues while in praxis is undeniably vital to the enterprises of teaching and public relations.

Who Would Benefit from Reading this Book?

A lot of books overpromise and under-deliver. Kushin’s work is the reverse: he under-promises and over-delivers in a concise volume that should be on every public relations professor’s shelf. This is a teaching text with an abundance of resources, templates, and classroom strategies. Matt Kushin’s book is a godsend for seasoned social media professors redeveloping their social media courses or newbie academics who are incorporating social and digital projects into their classes. The book is a step-by-step course plan for anyone teaching a social media class, and I would argue that some of the assignments can be reconfigured for a writing or research class. Even the most adept professor can learn new things from this text. I know I have, and I cannot wait to put them into practice in my own (non-social media) classes.


Commission on Public Relations Education (2018).  Fast forward: Foundations + future state. Educators + practitioners: The Commission on Public Relations Education 2017 report on undergraduate education. http://www.commissionpred.org/commission-reports/fast-forward-foundations-future-state-educators-practitioners/

Lum, E. (2017). Bridging the talent disconnect: Charting the pathways to future growth [PDF file]. https://s20896.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/talent-2017study-v3.pdf

Public Relations Campaigns: An Integrated Approach


Brandi Watkins, Virginia Tech

Public Relations Campaigns: An Integrated Approach

Authors: Regina M. Luttrell and Luke W. Capizzo

Sage, 2019

ISBN: 9781506332512


In 2006, the Commission for Public Relations Education (CPRE) report recommended public relations programs should include a course on public relations campaigns (DiStaso, 2019). A decade after this recommendation, CPRE released a follow-up report that found undergraduate public relations programs were teaching (92.5%, n = 186) and requiring (80.1%, n = 157) students to take a course in public relations campaigns (DiStaso, 2019). Furthermore, the 2017 report found that among practitioners, 97.9% (n = 390) agreed that a campaigns and case studies class should be required for undergraduate students (DiStaso, 2019). A course in public relations campaigns is an essential part of many undergraduate public relations curricula and can enhance the student experience by giving them an opportunity to complete a campaign for a client.

Given the relevance and importance of courses in public relations campaigns, it is essential that public relations educators have resources available to help students create successful campaign projects grounded in research and theory. Public Relations Campaigns: An Integrated Approach by Regina M. Luttrell and Luke W. Capizzo provides one such useful resource. The book walks students through the public relations process following the ROSTIR model (Research, Objectives, Strategies, Tactics, Implementation, and Reporting) and incorporates emerging models such as the PESO model (paid media, earned media, shared media, and owned media), thus allowing students to see how various media outlets fit into public relations campaigns.

Structure and Organization

The book is organized into an introduction, 11 chapters, appendix, and glossary. As previously mentioned, the book uses the ROSTIR model for campaign planning, and this model provides the organizational structure for the book. In terms of thinking about how to structure a class around this book, it can be organized into two sections. Section 1 can include the Introduction, Chapters 1-3, and Chapter 11 of the book, which provide a comprehensive overview of the necessity of public relations campaigns and provide a big picture look at public relations campaigns through the use of theory, models, and case studies. Chapters 4-10 make up Section 2 where these chapters detail the ROSTIR model with two chapters devoted to research and individual chapters devoted to objectives, strategies, tactics, implementation, and reporting and evaluation.

The introduction, in particular, focuses on public relations theories and principles, and emphasizes the importance of planning campaigns based on sound public relations theory. Some of the theories explained in the introduction include excellence theory, systems theory, agenda setting, two-step flow model, and situational crisis communication theory, among others. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the models of public relations practice and public relations planning. Chapter 1, “Introduction to Integrated Campaigns” explains the ROSTIR model, and provides a rationale for using it. In Chapter 2, Luttrell and Capizzo review the fundamentals of public relations campaigns including an introduction to the elements of a strategic plan. The third chapter in this section introduces students to the PESO model and how to use the model as part of the campaign planning process. Chapter 11, “Formulating an Integrated Campaign – Case Studies” features six case studies with topics including product marketing, activism, engagement, crisis communication, global and multicultural, and internal communication and employee relations.

The second section of the book, Chapters 4-10, cover the step-by-step process of designing, implementing and evaluating an integrated public relations campaign. Chapters 4 and 5 are devoted to the research phase of the process. Chapter 4 covers more of the “how-to” of research for public relations campaigns with topics including diagnosing a problem and/or opportunity, research terminology and techniques, and how to conduct secondary and primary research. Chapter 5 focuses primarily on goals associated with public relations campaigns and explains how to set and write campaign goals. Chapter 6, “Objectives” demonstrates how to write SMART objectives. Chapter 7 (“Strategies”) and Chapter 8 (“Tactics”) explain how to choose campaign strategies and tactics within the PESO model. Chapter 7 also includes a section on how to develop strategies for targeted audiences, and Chapter 8 includes specific tactics aligned with the PESO model that students can integrate into their campaigns. Chapter 9, “Implementation” covers project management and tips for how to work with various groups associated with a campaign including the media and non-PR people. This section wraps up with Chapter 10 “Reporting and Evaluation” that cover how to evaluate and report on campaign outcomes. Chapters 4-10 are supplemented by the appendix, which includes more detailed instructions and examples for each step of the ROSTIR model.

Contribution to Public Relations Education

Public Relations Campaigns: An Integrated Approach makes a significant contribution to public relations education, in particular as a resource for teaching undergraduate public relations campaigns courses. A strength of this book is the utilization of the “Concept Cases” and “Case Studies” that accompany each chapter. These sections provide real-world context to the concepts and steps covered in the previous chapter and effectively expose students to the real-world applications of concepts covered in public relations classes. These case studies use consistent terminology, call back to the PESO model, and identify a theory or model applicable to the case. Applying theory to a public relations campaign can be a difficult concept for students to grasp, so the inclusion of these examples in the textbook is an excellent way to reinforce this skill for students. Furthermore, the emphasis on theory, when it comes to planning campaigns, is useful for instructors.


Public Relations Campaigns: An Integrated Approach would make an ideal text for undergraduate students in a public relations campaigns course. The structure of the book lends itself well to course planning and the resources within the text are useful for students at each stage of a public relations campaigns course. The chapters are concise and detailed as they clearly explain core concepts necessary for planning and implementing a public relations campaign. Furthermore, the inclusion of practical step-by-step instruction and examples is useful for service-learning courses that include client-based work. Luttrell and Capizzo consistently connect theory to practice throughout the text in a way that is easily understandable and applicable. Finally, the inclusion of “Concept Cases” and “Case Studies” with each chapter, along with including an entire chapter devoted to case studies, exposes students to a variety of problems, approaches, and methods used in public relations campaigns.


DiStasio, M. (2019). Undergraduate public relations in the United States: The 2017 Commission on Public Relations Education report. Journal of Public Relations Education, 5(3), 3-22. https://aejmc.us/jpre/2019/11/20/undergraduate-public-relations-in-the-united-states-the-2017-commission-on-public-relations-education-report/

Social Media and Crisis Communication


Heather Robbins, Pennsylvania State University

Social Media and Crisis Communication

Editors: Lucinda Austin and Yan Jin

Routledge, 2018

ISBN: 978-1138812000 (paperback)


At a time when an increased amount of reputational issues pop on social media platforms, and organizations’ constituents are more willing to take them to task publicly, the window for public relations professionals between getting it right and getting it right now continues to narrow. For many professionals, this calls for a need to reset leadership and constituent expectations while rethinking their approach to issues and crisis planning and online engagement strategy, especially as the two areas continue to merge. 

In the book Social Media and Crisis Communication, book editors Lucinda Austin, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Yan Jin, associate professor at the University of Georgia, take a comprehensive look at the state of crisis communications research and the implications that the rise of social media has had on the field. This book couldn’t have come at a more important time as the quick and public nature of social media allows anyone with a handle to more easily challenge organizations, causing many public relations professionals to rethink their issues and crisis response strategies and approach to online reputation management.

This is the first book that explores the nexus of social media and crisis communications research and the new challenges that have emerged. For example, Chapter 2 author Timothy Coombs notes how social media has pushed many prevention and mitigation efforts by organizations in the traditionally private pre-crisis phrase into the public eye (p. 25). This public challenge by a stakeholder, organizational faux pas, or angry customer complaint is referred to as a paracrisis. In Chapter 4, Valentini et. al. note that “social media have become the milieu in which many crises are discussed, if not formed” (p. 57).


The book covers a large body of research and is divided into themed sections, including current and emerging issues of social media and crisis communication, overviews of dominant research streams, emerging theories and frameworks, areas for special consideration, future directions, and applications in specific areas of crisis. Additionally, the editors note that the book addresses some themes throughout different chapters, including the need for more dialogic approaches to crisis communication via social media and measurement of social media engagement in crisis communication response. These recurring ideas show a consistent need for implementation in public relations strategies and potential ideas for future crisis research.

The Dialogic Approach

Because of the interactivity and user-generated nature of social media, multiple chapter authors argue that crisis communication practices need to shift away from typical stakeholder-informing communications toward a more dialogic approach. For example, Valentini et al. say that little research currently exists, but it is needed to understand organizations’ potential use of dialogic communication with stakeholders via social media. They argue that two-way dialogic communication is an important step toward establishing credibility and trust and that stakeholder interactions can also be leveraged to add third-party voices to the mix. 

The book also covers the shift over the past decade from organizational approaches to audience-oriented and public-centered approaches for crisis communications, focusing on dialogic communication and stakeholder engagement. In Chapter 19, Guidry and Messner acknowledge that social media opens up two-way communication opportunities, but many organizations have been hesitant to embrace the possibilities and continue to use the platforms ineffectively as a “one-way megaphone” (p. 270).

In Chapter 9, Fraustino and Liu surmise that in crisis scholarship and, to some extent, social media crisis scholarship, a focus on an audience’s perspective is on the rise, placing an emphasis on ethical communications. They add that some gaps remain as the scholarship shifts, including the need to consider publics and outcome measures that aren’t just focused on the organization’s short- and long-term survival, but more so on the social good—the audience response during a crisis as a whole. In Chapter 5, Hung-Baesecke and Bowen add that organizations need to consider the ethics of engaging with stakeholders on social media when planning crisis strategies, including the fact that being “authentic” helps organizations in the long-run (p. 74). 

Measurement of Social Media Engagement in Crisis Communication Response 

Along the theme of measurable goals, Austin and Jin suggest more research is needed to continue to assess the effectiveness of crisis communications messaging, especially on different social media platforms. In Chapter 3, Goodman, for example, explained that the quality of proactive issues management (monitoring for issues, building and maintaining relationships, and implementing an effective issues-response system) is “usually a direct result of how rigorously those efforts are measured” and how specific goals are defined, especially in the “issues mapping” process (p. 65). In other words, the more you can show the value, the more support organizational leadership will have for proactive prevention. Conversely, as evidenced by Fraustino and Liu, the value to the organization should not be the only consideration. Ethically, organizations should have a concern for the effectiveness of communications on directing audiences during a crisis, to create not only a good organizational image but also to benefit the public.

Social Media Crisis Communication Models

The book explores the development of different types of crisis communications models, including Coombs’ situational crisis communications theory (SCCT), Benoit’s image-repair theory, and Cameron and colleagues’ contingency theory of strategic conflict management, in conjunction with the role of social media in crisis communications. It also explores the only social-media specific crisis communications model, Austin and Jin’s social-mediated crisis communications (SMCC) model. 

The authors did a nice job of explaining these models and showing examples of putting them into practice. Austin and Jin identify the need for a focus on developing better theories and frameworks specific to communicating a crisis on social media platforms, instead of attempting to adapt the existing theories. Austin and Jin suggest this approach for future research, citing the need for “prescribing strategic solutions and recommendations for crisis managers who look for science-based insights tailored for a relatively focused and specialized crisis communication arena” (p. 450). 

Visual Elements and Social Media Crisis Communication

The book also addresses the visual nature of social media, including the potential benefits of integrating images and graphics into crisis responses. In Chapter 19, Guidry and Messner show how the more visually focused platform Pinterest contributes to pro- and anti-vaccination health communications. Janoske expands on the benefits of visuals in Chapter 22, writing about how natural disaster images help the public understand and emotionally cope in recovery. She shows how social media allows members of the public to form communities when sharing emergency information and photos during a crisis and how crisis communicators can use these online visual communities to better understand the situation and inform their communications strategies for the publics they serve.

Austin and Jin conclude the book by acknowledging new areas of research opportunities, noting the fact that social media technology is so rapidly changing calls for continued research as crisis communications adjusts to developing platforms.


This is an excellent, informative, and well-researched book with contributions from many well-established authors in both the crisis communications and social media research fields. The book gives a comprehensive overview of the current state of research and offers suggestions for the future as these two areas continue to overlap. It thoroughly covers the emergence of crisis communications theory and its increasingly common intersection with social media, and, I would argue, will serve as a bedrock resource for the next wave of research. 

The book is valuable for academics and professional practitioners alike. The variety of examples of organizations and types of crises studied in the “application” section makes it a great tool for public relations practitioners, in particular. At 461 pages, this book is expansive, but its thoughtful organization and high-level approach lend it to easily be used as a textbook for a graduate course on the topic.

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