Tag Archives: campaigns

Shifting the Paradigm – Improving Student Awareness of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts Through Public Relations Campaigns

Editorial Record: Submitted to the Educators Academy of the Public Relations Society of America, June 8, 2020. This top paper submission was selected by JPRE in collaboration with PRSA-EA September 17, 2020. First published online May 2021.


Regina M. Luttrell, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Research and Creative Activity, Assistant Professor
Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY
Email: rmluttre@syr.edu

Adrienne Wallace, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Advertising & Public Relations 
Grand Valley State University
Allendale, MI
Email: wallacad@gvsu.edu


As PR professors it is our responsibility to make diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)  top of mind when teaching our students to develop comprehensive campaigns. It is our role to educate the next wave of practitioners to take the “diversity first” approach when working with clients or organizations. Through learning how to apply the researcher-developed Diversity & Inclusion Wheel for Public Relations Practitioners, this paper illustrates how students can operationalize this tool to build strategic campaigns that encompass DEI principles.

Keywords: Public Relations, Campaigns, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, cultural competency 

Rationale: Through this activity, we seek to shift the paradigm of student awareness of diversity, equity, and inclusion practices in and through public relations campaign courses. Through learning how to apply the researcher-developed Diversity & Inclusion Wheel for Public Relations Practitioners, students can then operationalize this tool to build strategic campaigns that encompass diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles. Facilitation of cultural competence through relevant curriculum, such as public relations campaigns, empowers students (Pelletier, 2019) and breaks barriers of cognitive and cultural dissonance (Smith, 2019), which in this case applies to creating a “diversity first” approach of examination into, and development of, comprehensive communications campaigns with students. 

Targeted Learning Outcomes: 1) students become more comfortable with many of the aspects surrounding DEI, 2) students can demonstrate a deliberate and effective way for addressing various audiences through empathy and consideration of diverse populations using a customized tool built for PR practitioners, 3) students reflect on the importance of application of DEI efforts to campaigns and the field.

Teaching Practice & Assignment: During the first week of class, to help students begin to think critically about DEI issues, we first define diversity, equity and inclusion to set the stage for the semester and open the discussion surrounding the role diversity plays within the field of PR. We propose the following: diversity is the “difference or variety of difference or variety of a particular identity”; equity addresses the “resources and the need to provide additional or alternative resources so that all groups can reach comparable, favorable outcomes;” and inclusion involves the “practices, policies, and processes that shape an organization’s culture” (Beavers, 2018, p. 3). Rather than making DEI add-on elements of strategic communication campaigns and messages, practitioners should make conscientious decisions to put DEI considerations at the forefront of their planning. This model can be introduced in introductory level courses, then students can carry the model forward throughout their program of study. 

Next, we introduce the Diversity & Inclusion Wheel for PR Practitioners (Appendix A). This wheel is based on previous research by Dr. Lee Gardenswartz and Dr. Anita Rowe (1994, 1998). In doing so we teach our students how to develop more inclusive campaigns from the beginning – the “diversity first” approach. Explaining the wheel: the center of the wheel has six core spokes that brands should consider when beginning to develop a campaign – national origin, age, physical qualities/abilities, gender, race and ethnicity. The outer layer of the wheel, beginning at the top and moving clockwise around the wheel includes seventeen additional attributes such as marital status, religious beliefs, mental health/well-being, language, communication styles, thinking styles, education or language. The idea is not to incorporate every spoke or external layer represented in the D&I Wheel, rather to consider deeply whether the same people are continually represented and create a campaign that includes two or three inner spokes and an array of external layers presented here.

Step 1

To begin, students are given a recent PR case study or campaign to read chosen by the instructor. Allow the learners to read the case completely. Instruct them to highlight and make notes that illustrate direct connections to DEI principles. Additionally, students should go online to assess the digital assets available for the campaign. In this step students begin to connect specific areas of DEI to actual campaigns.

Step 2

Hand out a sheet of paper that has an image of a circle in the center of the page with a smaller circle in the center of that or have students take out a piece of paper and draw a circle in the center (Appendix B). Prompt the students to use the D&I Wheel as a guide (Appendix A). In the smaller circle, ask the students to identify at least two aspects from the center of the wheel. In the larger circle ask students to identify at least four aspects from the external portion that they believe were implemented in this case study. In this step, students investigate and identify multiple aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion. Here students begin to understand the importance of multidimensional diversity.

Step 3

Ask students to look up the diversity and inclusion policy of the company featured in the case study. They should analyze the principles of DEI and compare them to the case study they just evaluated. Do the company’s mission and values align with the campaigns they are executing? By doing this, students think critically about the messages being sent publicly versus the actions taken internally by organizations. Sometimes the two are at odds with one another.

Step 4

Open the floor to discuss the student findings from the exercise. The learners should provide examples from their discovery to fuel the conversation. Have students explore why certain decisions were made and why (or why not) certain representations are present. This assignment provides a foundation for instructors to use and refer back to often when conducting research, developing content, identifying strategies or planning campaigns. An add-on assignment is to have students write their own DEI statements that they can post to their website portfolios using concepts learned.

          Assessment & Student Reactions: Having taught this approach over the past two years, students consistently respond positively. Some comment that this is the first time they have been introduced to the D&I Wheel. Students become more comfortable with aspects of DEI (LO1), a student commented, “This was all new to me. I’ve never thought about diversity from a communication perspective. Other classes don’t use this concept and I wish they would.” While another remarked on the importance of application of DEI efforts to campaigns and the field (LO3), “I don’t know why this isn’t a standard part of learning how to put together an integrated campaign.” Others noted that before learning how to incorporate a diversity first approach from the research process throughout, they simply would include photos of diverse people. As a result of this practice, students can demonstrate a deliberate and effective way for addressing various audiences through empathy and consideration of diverse populations using a customized tool built for PR practitioners (LO2), whereas one student commented, “I used to think diversity was just making sure that different color people were in the pics I used for my assignments. Now I know that to really understand diversity we must take what we understand about culture, communication, gender and so much more and apply it to building content.”  Additional assessment results available in Appendix C.

Appendix A    

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Appendix B

Appendix C

Note: The instructors collected the following pre- and post- test attitudes over two semesters in campaigns courses, below are the results with regard to Student Attitudes and Perceptions of DEI in the PR Classroom.

  1. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important to consider while building effective public relations campaigns.
  1. Diversity, equity, and inclusion education should be included in all classes related to public relations.
  1. I feel prepared to learn and effectively apply new material from textbooks, journal articles, blogs, etc. without classroom review on matters related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in public relations.
  1. I have sufficient background knowledge on diversity, equity, and inclusion related to public relations in order to apply these matters to campaigns successfully.
  1. I am open to learning more about how diversity, equity, and inclusion are related to public relations.
  1. I wish there were more offered in my public relations curriculum that addressed diversity, equity, and inclusion issues.


Beavers, D. (2018). Diversity, equity and inclusion framework: Reclaiming diversity, equity and inclusion for racial justice. The Greenlining Institute. http://greenlining.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Racial-Equity-Framework.pdf

Gardenswartz, L., & Rowe, A. (1994). Diverse teams at work: Capitalizing on the power of diversity. Chicago: Irwin.

Gardenswartz, L., & Rowe, A. (1998). Managing diversity: A complete desk reference and planning guide. McGraw Hill Professional.             

Pelletier, K. (2019, April 29). DEI and Empowering Students. Educause. https://er.educause.edu/blogs/2019/4/dei-and-empowering-students

Smith, K. C. (2019). Developing a culturally relevant curriculum and breaking the barriers of cognitive and cultural dissonance [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Wayne State University.

© Copyright 2021 AEJMC Public Relations Division

To cite this article: Luttrell, R. & Wallace, A. (2021). Shifting the paradigm – Improving student awareness of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts through public relations campaigns. Journal of Public Relations Education, 7(1), 200-209. https://aejmc.us/jpre/?p=2445

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.

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/