Students in textbook challenge to digital public relations learning

Students in textbook challenge to digital public relations learning


An undergraduate project aims to tackle the shortfall in digital public relations learning and development content.

Undergraduate public relations students at Southampton Solent University are calling on practitioners to contribute to a text book on digital public relations.

The team is frustrated with the lack of books on the topic. Therein lies an irony. The publishing cycle of a book means that the content is typically out of date before it is published.

The UK Government’s Digital Skills Crisis Report (opens as a PDF) published in June claims that a shortfall in digital education and training is costing the UK economy an estimated £63 billion annually in lost gross domestic product.

Modernising learning and development

The Engagement network at my own firm Ketchum tracks significant changes impacting digital public relations practice via a Workplace community. The market moves incredibly quickly. Each week Ketchum practitioners from around the world report five to ten changes.

In the last week we’ve discussed the performance of GIFs in messaging; Google’s shift to mobile first search; updates to Instagram Stories; SnapChat analytics; Twitter’s content filtering solution; insight on digital purchase journeys; and private branded communities on WhatsApp.

Books suit theory, analysis and case studies, but blogs; communities such as my own Engagement network and #FuturePRoof; and video are a better solution for modern learning and development.

The Southampton Solent project, aimed at students and practitioners, will be published electronically and print on demand via a platform such as Blurb or Lulu.

In itself it’s a fantastic example of a digital public relations project. The process is as much about learning and development as the completed output.

The students will need to build a community, create guidelines, build workflow, oversee editorial quality, publication and promotion.

Call for content

The team is seeking submissions around 1,500 words, on a range of topics, including strategy, how to write for digital public relations, and search engine optimisation (SEO). If you’d like to contribute to the project visit the Digital Public Relations Book website and submit a pitch.

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