Does digital PR deserve its own module at universities?

It’s no surprise that digital PR is becoming increasingly popular within the PR industry. The world has shifted online significantly since the pandemic started which has meant PR professionals have worked more with digital PR.

On PR courses across the country we focus on traditional PR and incorporate digital within these modules, but I’m starting to think that digital PR deserves its own module.

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How is digital PR different to traditional PR?

Digital PR, like traditional, seeks to achieve coverage. It is also concerned with increasing rankings in search engines, The Domain Authority of a website and gaining links (PR Academy). There are lots of resources to learn the ins and outs of each.

If you’re confused by what any of that means, don’t worry. These are the things digital PR professionals are well clued up on and what all PR professionals should know (a bit) about. It’s not enough to stick to just traditional PR anymore, the key is to have a mix. Since the rise of the internet we have so many new opportunities for getting yourself and your brand known.

From this we know there are lots of areas of digital PR that we as students and professionals can learn about. At the moment, I am doing extra reading and webinars through CIPR on digital PR but would definitely have considered choosing a module on digital PR at university as there is so much to it.

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What could be taught in the module?

The list below is what I would include in a digital PR module at university. I’m sure there are more specific things to include too. For those of you who have more experience in digital PR, I’m sure you could suggest topics (I would love to find out your opinions so please comment below).

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) & Google Analytics
  • Working with journalists, bloggers and influencers
  • Online press releases for high-quality backlinks
  • Anything social media related (mentions etc)
  • Online campaign & strategy planning
  • Online event planning

A lot of this may just be incorporated into PR modules already, such as press releases, campaign planning and event planning. But a focus on digital could cover it in much more detail and set people up for PR roles focused on digital.

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At the moment digital marketing gets its own modules at universities and even whole degrees as it is such a broad topic. I think digital PR does deserve a module as a lot of the things listed above are usually learnt by doing your own research or from experience. If a module isn’t necessary then perhaps more inclusion into the content or additional classes around the course.

I know when looking at jobs and internships online that are in the digital PR field, they quite often ask that you have some background knowledge of SEO, Google Analytics and other tools used in digital PR. Having the option to do a module on this at university could really help when entering the job market as it is so competitive at the moment.

Let me know whether your university has a module on digital PR or you’re a PR graduate who would’ve liked to have had this module option in the comments below!