Public Relations curriculum at the university level will continue to increase in importance.

To achieve the status of a profession, Public Relations must meet certain criteria. One element includes making the university the field's port of entry.

Consequently, now is the time to incorporate using the Internet as a communications tool into the Public Relations curriculum.

University of Florida sets an example

Institutions like the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, are doing just that. The University of Florida's Public Relations program has consistently ranked among the top three programs in the nation. Respect for the program's curriculum is reflected in the ranking.

UF's College of Journalism and Communications has been offering a course to PR majors on Visual Communications for years. This course teaches students basic html coding and Dreamweaver software.

The University of Maryland, another top-three program, teaches a similar Visual Communications course.

Students choose a client for whom they develop a communications campaign. Students are taught how to develop a Web site and how to strategically use it in the campaign.

In addition to the "Vis Comm" course, students are encouraged to think about writing for the Web in a PR Writing course. Students are taught to write shorter and to break their text into chunks of information.

PR majors may also elect to take a more intensive course entitled, "Communication on the Internet and Survey of Electronic Publishing." In this one, students are not just given instruction on design. They are also taught

Syracuse University and New Media

Syracuse's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications has a graduate degree program for new media. Instead of offering a separate undergraduate major in new media, the school encourages students, including PR students, to take elective courses.

These courses incorporate interactive multimedia, basic web design and interactive project management.

The school's philosophy:
"Writing is still the most important skill in the communications business, and a good idea is the start of any successful article, campaign, film, or photograph. At the Newhouse School you'll learn about technology, but you'll also learn to use it to communicate content, and to amplify the power of a great idea."

At the graduate level, students research how communications industries use the Internet.

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