New Online Strategic PR Courses Take Top Honors for Digital Media, E-Learning

Three new online public relations (PR) courses created by the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and eCornell won Platinum MarCom Awards in the Digital Media / Web Element / E-Learning category for 2021. Of more than 6,000 entries across all categories, only 17 percent received the iconic Platinum MarCom statuette — the highest distinction awarded by the MarCom competition, which is organized and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP).

“This is an important achievement for both eCornell and SC Johnson, and deserves to be celebrated,” says Theomary Karamanis, senior lecturer of management communication in the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, and faculty author of eCornell’s PR strategy courses.

The award-winning courses, launched in the first quarter of 2021, are Strategic PR Planning, Hiring and Managing PR Agencies, and Communicating with the Media. From March to September, each course had an average of 100 participants and received high net promoter scores (NPS); high NPS indicate that participants are very willing to recommend the courses.

For Karamanis, this success reinforces why it’s crucial that training and education options address a relevant ‘pain point’ for professional students. She says the new PR courses, which each take two weeks to complete, were designed to address a well-documented demand for skilled PR professionals with the ability to develop strategic communications.

“We realized there was a gap in the market for very targeted, practical and up-to-date courses on PR planning and media management,” says Karamanis.

To close that gap, Karamanis worked closely with Susan Herman, director of instructional design at eCornell, and eCornell’s Design and Development department, to create courses specifically designed to impact practice. Toolkits and worksheets, based on sound research and theory, ensure participants can work with their own examples and organizational settings to apply what they learn and make strategic communication decisions that best serve their work. With peer reviews and continuous feedback, the online setting is optimized for professional growth.

“The modules were rich with information but concise enough that I’ll likely retain what I’ve learned,” says one participant of the Communicating with the Media course. “I also really appreciated the application aspect of our assignments so that I could practice and put the skills and techniques to use right away.”

eCornell’s new strategic PR courses allow entrepreneurs, managers and executives working in a corporate communications role — regardless of whether they have prior academic or professional experience in the field — to do their jobs better. Karamanis says the courses are also an excellent way for experienced PR professionals to keep their skills fresh; many recent students agree.

“I’ve been doing PR for seven years,” says one such participant. “I still learned a ton and the course project was valuable to my job.”

Enrollment is open for Strategic PR PlanningHiring and Managing PR Agencies, and Communicating with the Media, with courses starting as early as December 8. Participants who complete all three courses can take two additional courses to earn a PR Strategy Certificate from Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.