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PBRL 3400 (formerly JOUR 3400) Syllabus

Course Syllabus

PBRL 3400 (formerly JOUR 3400) - Introduction to Public Relations

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course is a survey of the public relations discipline, including the professional foundation of ethics, law and theory. It also covers the process, audiences and professional practice areas. Students can expect to learn this foundation, which will be needed to move through more advanced professional practice courses in public relations. With this foundation, students should have good understanding of the discipline, why it is important, and how to perform basic public relations functions.

Course Outcomes:

This is a survey course. We will take a broad look at public relations --- its theory, the profession, its procedures and practice. Students should be able to do the following at the end of the course. It is also an upper level course. At the end of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Define public relations.
  2. Distinguish public relations from other management functions.
  3. Explain how public relations evolved in the United States.
  4. Describe the activities of public relations --- what PR people do.
  5. Identify an organization's key publics or target audiences.
  6. Describe and apply the public relations process.
  7. Describe the various contexts for public relations.
  8. Solve public relations problems within an ethical and legal framework.

You are responsible for having the appropriate text book on the first day of class.

You are to send an e-mail to the online professor with contact information you would like to share. In addition, your e-mail is to state that you have read the syllabus and reviewed the calendar regarding requirements for the course. This is to be done within in the Desire 2 Learn system; do not send it to my personal e-mail account. To send this e-mail, go to class list, click on staff, click on my address and complete the e-mail process. 

Prerequisites & Co-requisites:


Course Topics:

The course is divided into four parts: the profession, the process, the publics and the practice. 

Specific Course Requirements:

Internet access, Microsoft Word or other word processing software that generates a .doc or .docx extension. If in question, this is to be approved prior to your course work submissions. Please take a moment to review grading procedures. 

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:

A link to supplemental materials comes with the textbook: Online Learning Center. Information about it it on page xvii of your text book. It offers sample questions, flashcards and interviews. Additionally, there are power point presentations and lectures from the text located on your course in the Course Modules area. 

Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Testing Procedures:

Course work is to be completed every week. Four tests will be part of your final grade; each one will cover one of the four main sections of the text. Each is available as soon as the class begins and must be completed by its due date and time (Central Standard Time), which varies by test. Check each due time to ensure that you post by the deadline. They will consist of true/false and multiple-choice questions, which will contain one or more units of study. Tests will be limited as to time. The computer will cut you off at the end of the prescribed time period, regardless of whether you have completed all questions. You may use your text to confirm an answer, but be aware that time limits will not allow you to spend much time flipping through the text. You should read and be familiar with each section before taking its test. There is one extra credit quiz that is open at the beginning of class. Look for it and its due date. It is based on having read the syllabus.

Other parts of your grade will come from writing and submitting assignments and case studies and participating in online discussions. These assignments, discussions and case studies must be submitted per instructions; no credit will be given outside of the proper submission guidelines. 

Grading Procedures:

Your success in this online course will depend on your willingness to read the textual material, successfully complete quizzes, and complete written assignments/discussion papers,
as scheduled. Success in taking quizzes and handling written assignments can be enhanced by studying the case problems at the end of the several chapters, as well as chapter content. Note: Written assignments will be graded on the basis of grammar, spelling and punctuation, as well as content; refer to grading rubric for complete details.

All PAPERS SUBMITTED WILL BE CONSIDERED FINAL, as each student has unlimited access to the class to ask questions. There will be no re-submission of papers to increase the initial grade given. You are required to ask via e-mail, set up an appointment in the chat room, or call me with your questions as to the proper completion of the assignment. It is your responsibility to ensure clarification of instructions.

ALL PAPERS SUBMITTED MUST REFLECT CRITICAL THINKING AND KNOWLEDGE OF THE MATERIAL; that is to say, examples found within or outside of class along with elaboration is required to achieve an "A" grade. As an example, I provide the following: How significant was the first space shuttle mission? The answer, very, may be correct, but it will not be awarded an "A". The use of our virtual library is recommended in accomplishing this and other search requirements. In all our assignments, it is noted that elaboration in required. This material must come from outside of our text, and can be of a professional experience nature. Items given as facts in elaboration must be referenced using our referencing criteria. In nearly every case, the core material needed to complete your work will be found in our text. All tests and most of our assignments come from our text; check these resources first for your material.

No work will be accepted after the final day of class. 

Tests (4 @ 50 points each)200 Points
Assignments (2 @ 100 points each)200 Points
Case Studies (2 @ 100 points each)200 Points
Discussions (2 @ 100 points each)200 Points
Total 800 Points
Grading Scale:
A720-800 points
B640-719 points
C560-639 points
D480-559 points
F479 points or less

The grading scale should emphasize research papers, case studies, article critiques, other assignments, projects, and student participation in the learning community as well as timed quizzes and periodic examinations.

Assignments and Projects:

All due dates for all work assigned in this class are noted under the Assessments, Discussions, and Dropbox tabs. These assignments should also be reflected on the calendar.

Module tests will be available for every module. There is also a bonus quiz that you can take during the first week of class.

Assignments: These will require you to research your text book to find the correct material to answer the questions. The material will not necessarily follow the weekly chapter reading as noted in the syllabus. Please review your calendar area for actual due dates.

Discussions: There will be a discussion question three times during the semester. Times they will be open are listed on the calendar. You will be graded based upon your reading the comments of others, supplying your own original thoughts and responding to the comments of others.

Case Studies: You will have two cases to work on during the semester. One will be due after the second module and the other during the fourth module. 

Part One: The Profession

  • Chapter 1: The Nature of Public Relations ​​
  • Chapter 2: The History of Public Relations 
  • Chapter 3: A Theoretical Basis for Public Relations 
  • Chapter 4: Law and Ethics 

​Part Two: The Process

  • Chapter 5: Research: Understanding Public Opinion 
  • Chapter 6: Strategic Planning for Public Relations Effectiveness 
  • Chapter 7: Action and Communication
  • Chapter 8: Evaluation Public Relations Effectiveness 

Part Three: The Publics

  • Chapter 9: Social & Traditional Media Relations 
  • Chapter 10: Employee Communication
  • Chapter 11: Community Relations
  • Chapter 12: Consumer Relations and Marketing 
  • Chapter 13: Investor Relations

Part Four: The Practice

  • Chapter 14: Public Affairs: Relations with Government 
  • Chapter 15: Public Relations in Nonprofit Organizations 
  • Chapter 16: Corporate Public Relations 


Class Participation:

You will be expected to participate in all interactive aspects of the course, you must participate each week to receive credit for participation. 

Late Policy:

Please be sure to check the calendar regularly to keep track of due dates for article reviews, observations, and other course assessments.

The course is divided into units to help manage your progress through the course material. You need to meet due dates of projects, discussions, assignments, tests and all aspects of the course.Late submissions will only be considered as a result of dire circumstances, will be reviewed one-on-one, and must be submitted in writing via the Desire 2 Learn platform prior to the initial due date.


Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on May 16, 2017