Got Social Media Courses?: PR Students Thirsty for More...

Claire Faucett
Claire Faucett Owner, engage5w, Faucett Social Design, LLC

Posted on February 26th 2011

Got Social Media Courses?: PR Students Thirsty for More...

I recently spoke to a group of public relations and marketing students about using social media in a business setting. This group of “go-getters” made me stop and think about what’s missing from their curriculum — “How to put business strategy behind social media.”

These students are surrounded by social media in their personal lives and are known to be digital natives and Millennials, but many “professionals” take for granted that students inherently know how to use social media in a professional setting. As they graduate many are seeing job opportunities in social media, but have very little hands-on, practical experience using it.

One student said in her degree coursework social media is referred to as the “future” of public relations, but she knows better. It is the “now.” And she’s not sitting back and waiting for the know-how to come to her, she is seeking out answers.

This mentality — this thirst for knowledge — is one reason these students are so impressive. They are willing to take risks and learn something beyond what is assigned in class. They are taking the initiative to put themselves out there and learn something new. This self-motivation (perhaps self-preservation) will serve them well as they embark on their careers.

This is not to say there are no courses starting to address new and social media, but they are few and far between. For example, here’s a university course that teaches the importance of digital media and offers students a hands-on learning approach. It’s a recent offering at Missouri State University and highly sought after by upper-level students. Only 15 students allowed each semester. No doubt this is the start of a trend of courses to come. But for now, the students are bridging the gap on their own time for the most part.

Here are stand-alone courses in the Springfield area (not comprehensive):
Note: these are not part of core degree requirements, most fall under “professional development.”

  • Ozarks Technical Community College
  • Missouri State University
  • Drury University’s Social Media Certification Program
  • Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center
  • Know of other course offerings in the area? Please post them below.

    Related Articles:
    Managing Millennials: Eleven Tips for Managing Millennials (
    Millennials Bring New Attitudes (
    The Network for Springfield’s Young Professionals (
    Social Media Online Courses: Where Are They? (

    A good article about using social media in the university classroom (thanks for sharing @benasmith)
    How to Integrate Social Tools into the Journalism Classroom (

    Follow Claire Faucett on Twitter (@clairefaucett).

    Claire Faucett

    Claire Faucett

    Owner, engage5w, Faucett Social Design, LLC

    engage5w offers a full spectrum of integrated marketing services with a passion for social media.. The “5w” of engage5w refers to the traditional news writing style of addressing the Who, What, When, Where and Why to create content.  The “engage” represents the most effective way to reach your audience in today’s digital world. We specialize in creating custom marketing solutions and campaigns that work for your company. engage5w uses social business concepts to fully integrate both digital and traditional marketing tools into existing business plans

    See Full Profile >


    Posted on February 26th 2011 at 2:34PM

    It's amazing to me that schools are not embracing social media quicker. I'm getting tired of instructors referring to social media as "new media" when it has in fact been around for nearly a decade. If any PR student has followed PR professionals on Twitter, then he/she would know social media is fully integrated into the profession.

    Posted on February 26th 2011 at 4:51PM

    Measuring social media presence tells how much the brand is likely to be discussed and being discussed on internet. Studying social media can boost up the skills of a Management realted student...

    Posted on February 26th 2011 at 10:00PM

    Three of the top social media experts will be speaking this year at the Small Business Survival Summit --

    Mari Smith, Neal Schaffer and Dan Zarella ...

    Posted on February 28th 2011 at 6:49AM

    All is not lost.

    I am teaching "Marketing with Social Media" as a part of the MBA curriculum at Cal State Fullerton. Academia wants to embrace social media, but it takes time to turn the ship.

    The class concludes with the student teams developing a social media strategy for a real firm. Very cool.


    Claire Faucett
    Posted on February 28th 2011 at 2:53PM

    Really enjoying reading all your comments and thoughts on the issue of social media in the classroom. John, I like the sound of "Marketing with Social Media" course. What an advantage students will have after taking it! I worked in higher ed PR for the first three years of my career and it does seem to take a while to get new curriculum implemented (any new idea). And on a positive note, when things are finally put into play, it is usually well thought out and very thorough. Exciting to participate in trends and happenings that are permanently altering the way people communicate and do business.

    Posted on February 28th 2011 at 11:40PM

    For the past few years, and more heavily in the last two semesters, I've incorporated social media (specifically blogging and Twitter) lessons and introductory information in my "COM107 Persuasive Writing for the Media" class at Rider University ( My students really seem to enjoy taking a "business approach" to using social media. (Naturally, they're already pros at posting their personal lives on Facebook, etc.) Last semester, I was accused of creating a few new "Twitter addicts"! ;-)

    Like @eric_wheeler said, social media is fully integrated into the PR profession, and today's students need to be prepared for their future careers. Thanks for a great post, Claire!

    Kathy Magrino (@kathymagrino)

    Posted on March 1st 2011 at 10:09AM
    Great post Claire. It frightens me that some universities are so far behind. What needs to be considered is that many university students that are studying now will enter a communications landscape that is even more different than the one we have now. Not only will our PR students be digital natives but so will their peers. Their clients, many of their stakeholders, interest and pressure groups, audiences will all increasingly be made up of digital natives, drastically changing the mix of communication that is required.
    Posted on March 3rd 2011 at 8:38PM

    I'm surprised that people are still saying social is the future, especially when it comes to PR. On the other hand, the time and resources allocated to it need to be considered carefully. I've been teaching social media marketing for a while now and wrote the book "Social Persuasion" to address the role it plays in business/marketing strategy. I gave a lot of thought to where social media fits and for the most part I believe it's a PR play, although it can enhance other aspects of the promotional mix.

    Posted on March 3rd 2011 at 10:04PM

    The University of San Francisco offers a Master Certificate in Internet Marketing.  At this point I can't tell you if it's good or bad but looks interesting.  They also offer an Advanced Social Media course. 

    The courses are all offered online.


    Posted on March 3rd 2011 at 11:36PM


    The word professionalism struck me in your post.. The students know the social side of things, but need to learn the business or professional side of things.. Good post.

    Courtney Hunt
    Posted on March 5th 2011 at 9:47PM

    I was recently hired to develop a curriculum for a Social Media and Online Communities Specialization for a Master's Degree program in Communications offered by a university in the Northeast. I conducted a fairly extensive review of the academic and training programs currently available as part of my development, and I've been asked to write up a summary of my research and results. 

    Generally speaking, there's an increasing number of training programs being offered (like those mentioned above), but not in the way of formal education. Virtually all of the current offerings are tactical and skills-based (think vo-tech) rather than conceptual and strategic, focused more on preparing folks to be doers rather than leaders.

    I commend the university that hired me for being at the leading edge of academic development in 2.0 technologies. In addition to programs focused on preparing communications professionals, we need to see the same sort of effort in media/journalism and business schools (all disciplines - not just marketing). Unfortunately, most academics and academic leaders still don't recognize the importance of preparing professionals for the Digital Era - and the need to prepare themselves first. Those institutions that make the shift sooner will reap significant benefits.

    Courtney Hunt - Founder, Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community

    PS - Neal Schaffer recently wrote a post on this topic as well. Here's a link:

    Posted on March 5th 2011 at 10:15PM

    Please take a few minutes to review the information regarding Drury's program here:

    Drury University has created a program that incorporates the technical & strategic skills necessary to master social media.  Drury offers a Graduate Certificate in Social Media including 3 hours of transferable graduate credit.  The program is offered as a seated course as well as an online course (4 week and 8 week sessions) 5 times each year.

    The cost of the program is much less than comparable professional certiciates.

    However, the most attractive aspect of Dury's program is the incredible faculty.  They are accomplished, well respected, and innovative.

    Dr Curt Gilstrap Ph.D. directs the program and invites anyone interested to contact him directly with questions regarding its content and delivery:


    Posted on March 18th 2011 at 6:49PM

    I'd love to have the chance to get this kind of practical insights myself, there is some dose of difficulty on putting in practice what we learned in school and things evolve so fast it's hard to keep up. I graduated from Northwestern college online years ago and I am still learning new things about my profession while doing my job. Learning never stops...

    Posted on June 14th 2011 at 6:01AM

    I've heard great things about social media training programs, specifically about it being helpful in defining online etiquette. This one in particular is supposed to be very good.

    Posted on December 8th 2011 at 7:06PM
    As I am about to get my communications degree online I had the chance to learn some new stuff about social media strategies. It's already happening and not knowing how to approach social media can turn into a serious handicap later on.