Time: R (1:55PM - 4:55PM), Rm. WEIM 3020


Moon J. Lee, Ph.D.




Office Hours:

TR: 9:30 to 10:30AM


Weimer 3050


And by appointment


E-learning site


Project Calendar


Course Description

This seminar course deals with critical issues related to Public Relations in the digital age. The class is based on the analysis of existing theories as well as research findings and in-depth discussion. During the semester, students are expected to conduct research on a public relations relevant topic, particularly in the context of digital communication and present it to their peers. We will carefully examine a body of literature in public relations and particularly in the context of digital communication. This course will offer important insights into theories, practices, and critical issues of public relations with an emphasis on computer mediated communication. The course is aimed at developing and enhancing both students' theoretical and practical knowledge of public relations in the digital age and research skills based on critical thinking and problem solving abilities. Topics include, but are not limited to, the interplay of how social media influences public relations practices, the effects of Digital PR on particular audiences, and critical issues such as the proliferation of digital technologies and how they change the traditional sense of public relations practices.  We will discuss and research public relations in the digital age in a number of contexts, including (1) challenges and opportunities presented to PR practitioners in the digital age, (2) how social media are changing public relations practices, (3) what would be the most effective public relations practices in the digital age, and (4) other critical issues such as professional ethics and social responsibility.

Course Objectives

This course will help you to:

1. carefully examine recent literature on public relations  in the context of digital communication.

2. demonstrate a keen knowledge of theories and applications of public relations through scientific research papers and class discussions.

3. develop and enhance research skills, critical thinking and problem solving skills.

4. conduct an original study from conceptualization to final presentation of findings.



Course Requirements

Requirements include reading assigned materials, preparing in-class presentations, participating in class discussions, conducting one research project, and a final presentation.

Research Project - You will be asked to research and write a research paper (or proposal) in public relations related topics, particularly in the context of digital communication. Each student will choose a research topic and a date for presentation. In a concise, but thorough research paper, you will present your own findings for your research questions. Also, you are encouraged to submit your paper to the International Communication Association convention in November. The deadline for this submission is Nov. 1st. 

Deadline: Failure to meet assignment deadlines will result in a lowered grade (-5 points per day).



  1. During the first week of the semester, we will decide who is going to present a paper from the required reading materials to the class and when.
  2. You will be asked to email your name, student id, a paper topic from the syllabus, and the date. You need to provide a short outline for your presentation in class.
  3. Each individual is required to prepare a class presentation for the class. Prepare an outline (with moderate details) or power-point presentation for your classmates-please make an appropriate number of copies (or make links available) for everyone in the class, if you prepare an outline. Also, you will be asked to moderate class discussions. You need to prepare an approximately 20 minute presentation along with 3 to 5 questions for your classmates to use while moderating. It is a good idea to include your questions in your outline or presentation slides. But if not, please make sure to provide your questions to the instructor separately.

The guidelines for writing a final paper and the final evaluation sheet will be posted on the Project Calendar. Please review them carefully and let me know if you need any extra help. It is very crucial to seek extra help BEFORE the final paper is due!

Please note that there are minimum requirements for your final research paper or proposal.

1. It must be theoretical. You must develop your hypotheses based on theories.

2. It must contain at least 15 references.

3. Writing should be clear and compliant with APA style. You are responsible for learning APA style.

4. Read the guidelines for submitting your paper to a conference (e.g. International Communication Association or AEJMC) and follow the formats accordingly.

5. The paper should not exceed 30 pages, including references as well as figures.


Throughout the semester, I will ask you to write reaction papers on assigned readings.  Additional information will be provided in a separate handout.

·         Class Participation is fully expected.  Each "UNEXCUSED" absence in my records will result in 5% of your total grade lost. In other words, if you have four (or more) unexcused absences, you will lose 20% of your total grade.


Each student will have an opportunity to introduce one article to class. This will be counted as 20% of your grade. I give a better grade when the student presents the given materials effectively and presents critical and useful analysis to the class--not just repeating what you read. Please note that if you don't show up in class (unless excused), you will not be able to participate in class discussions, resulting in zero points for this assignment. Make-up presentations will not be given except for under exceptional circumstances. It is your responsibility to proactively seek and acquire information you missed due to an absence--regardless of whether the absence was excused or not.

  1. Please prepare a 15 minute presentation.
  2. You will have a respondent who will comment on your paper.
  3. You will have a chance to answer some questions from the audience.

Grading Items



Final Research Paper

Dec. 4th


Final Presentation

Will be determined


Reaction Papers



Class Presentation (Introduce Your Own Literature)



Total Points





Final Grade

93 - 100 pts


90 - 92 pts


87 - 89 pts


83 - 86 pts


80 - 82 pts


77 - 79 pts

C +

73 - 76 pts


70 - 72 pts


67 - 69 pts

D +

60 - 66 pts


Below 59 pts




Academic Honesty

Students should be aware of academic honesty in fulfilling all course requirements. Plagiarism is not permitted. If you use information from a publication, you must attribute a source.



Class Etiquette

Seeking Help

If you need individual assistance beyond the help you receive in class, you can see me during office hours or set up an appointment for another time. If you have any special concerns for your instructor to know in order to ensure your academic success in class, please inform me as soon as possible, so I can assist you accordingly. Please, see me if you have any problems! I consider my student's failure to learn as my own failure to teach effectively. We are going to work together to provide a high quality academic environment for your learning.

Special Assistance: Reasonable accommodations are available for students who have a documented disability. Please notify me during the first week of class of any accommodations needed for the course. Late notification may cause the requested accommodations to be unavailable. All accommodations must be approved through the Disability Resource Center (DRC) in Peabody Hall 202 (Tel.352-392-1261).


This is a tentative schedule and is subject to change.


M.A. Students

Ph.D. Students

Week 1: Aug. 19 - 23

1. Course Objectives and Requirements
2. Introduction: Public Relations in the Digital Age

Please email me your name, Student ID #, your presentation date, and your assigned paper title.

Get to know each other

Presentation sign-up

Discussion for Possible Topic and Topic Approval

Get to know each other

Presentation sign-up

Discussion for Possible Topic and Topic Approval

Week 2: Aug. 26 – 30

  Social Changes in Digital Age: Challenges vs. Opportunities

1.      Reagan J. & Lee, M. (2007). Online technology, Edutainment, and Infotainment (Chapter 10) in Communication Technology and Social Change (Theory and Implications) edited by C. Lin & D. J. Atkin, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, London

2.      2009 Digital Readiness Report: Essential Online Public Relations and Marketing Skills, PRSA

3.      Kaplan A. & Haenlein M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media. Business Horizons (2010) 53, 59-68.

4.      Fletcer, A. & Lee, M. (2012).  Current Social Media Uses and Evaluations in American Museums,  Museum Management and Curatorship, iFrist, Nov. 26, 2012. pp. 1-17 | DOI: 10.1080/09647775.2012.738136

** Please email me your name, research topic (with a nice title), and your date for Introducing Literature.

Analysis of Research Papers & Class Discussion

Developing Research Project

Analysis of Research Papers & Class Discussion

Developing Research Project

Week 3: Sept. 2 – 6

    Web 2.0 and Public Relations through Social Media (Targeted PR: Tailored Communication)

1.  Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship - Boyd, D. M., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11.

2.  Rybalko and Seltzer (2010), Dialogic communication in 140 characters or less: How Fortune 500 companies engage stakeholders using Twitter, 36, 336-341

3.  Top 10 Social Media Research Articles Important for Public Relations from the First Half of 2013 by IPR:

Other Reading:

a.     Web 2.0 on Wikipedia -

b.     The History and Evolution of Social Media | Webdesigner Depot

c.    Ignoring Social Media Makes You Mute, Not Invisible -

Topic Formulation and Background Research


Topic Formulation and Background Research

(Learn IRB Procedure!)

Week 4: Sept. 9 – 13

  Media Relations in Digital Age

1.       Bajkiewicz, Kraus, and Hong (2011), The impact of newsroom changes and the rise of social media on the practice of media relations, Public Relations Review, 37, 329 – 331 

2.       Waters, Tindall, & Morton (2010), Media catching and the journalist-public relations practitioner relationship: How social media are changing the practice of media relations, Journal of Public Relations Research, 22(3):241-264

3.      John, C. B., Paul, T.J., & Derek, H. (2012).  The impact of policies on government social media usage: Issues, challenges, and recommendations.  Government Information Quarterly, 29, 30-40.

Other Reading:

                  15 savage mistakes commonly made by PR folks | Blog | Econsultancy 


Topic Formulation and Background Research


Analysis of Research Papers & Class Discussion

Topic Formulation and Background Research


Analysis of Research Papers & Class Discussion

Week 5: Sept. 16 – 20

 Social Media and Non-profit Public Relations

1.      Kathryn J. Ready (2011), Social media strategies in nonprofit organizations, International Journal of Strategic Management, ISSN1555-2411, Volume11, Issue3, p. 150 - 157.    

2.      Shier, M. L & Handy, F. (2012). Understanding online donor behavior: the role of donor characteristics, perceptions of the internet, website and program, and influence from social networks. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 17: 219-230.

3.      McAllister, S.M., (2012). How the world's top universities provide dialogical forums for marginalized voices. Public Relations Review 38, 319– 327.

4.      Rowena L. Briones, Beth Kuch, Brooke Fisher Liu, Yan Jin (2011), Keeping up with the digital age: How the American Red Cross uses social media to build relationships. Public Relations Review, 37,  37–43.

Analysis of Research Proposals & Class Discussion



Analysis of Research Papers & Class Discussion


Sept 19 - Draft of Introduction & Literature Review Due

Week 6: Sept. 23 – 27

    Social Media Campaign and Management

1.        Still Setting the Pace in Social Media: The First Longitudinal Study of Usage by the Largest US Charities Conducted by: Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D. (

2.        Smith, Coyle, Lightfoot, and Scott (2007), Reconsidering Models of Influence: The relationship between Consumer social networks and word of mouth effectiveness, Journal of Advertising Research, 387-397.

3.        Levenshus, A. (2010). Online relationship management in a presidential campaign: a case study of the obama campaign's management of its internet-integrated grassroots effort. Journal of Public Relations Research,22(3), 313-335. 

Other Reading:

a.       New Media Academic Summit White Paper - "Engaging the New Influencers"  hosted by Edelman (The White paper is on E-Learning)


Analysis of Research Papers & Class Discussion


Sept 26 - Draft of Introduction




Analysis of Research Papers & Class Discussion

(Write a research plan)


(Develop Hypotheses)

(Develop Instruments and Prepare for IRB)

Submit your IRB application if applicable!

Week 7: Sept. 30 - Oct. 4

    Crisis Management with Social Media: Case Studies 

1.              Schultz, Utz, and Goritz (2011), Is the medium the message? Perceptions of and reactions to crisis communication via twitter, blogs and traditional media, Public Relations Review, 37, 20 -27

2.              Austin, L., Liu, B.F., & Jin, Y. (2012). How audiences seek out crisis information: Exploring the Social-Mediated Crisis Communication Model. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 40(2), 188-207.

3.              Deanne Bird, Megan Ling & Katharine Haynes (2012). Flooding Facebook-the use of social media during the Queensland and Victorian floods. The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Volume 27, No. 1, February 2012, 27-33.



Prepare for research project

Oct. 3 : Research Plan Due (with Revised Intro. and Literature Review)

** Remember: Perform no research without obtaining approvals from me and IRB


Week 8: Oct. 7 – 11

   Public Relations, Activism, Professional Ethics in Digital Era

1.      Lim  and Golan (2011), Social media activism in response to the influence of political parody videos on YouTube, Communication Research,1-18

2.      Michael L. Kent  (2008), Critical analysis of blogging in public relations, Public Relations Review 34, 32-40

3.      by K. D. Sweetser (2010), A losing Strategy: The impact of nondisclosure in social media on relationships. Journal of Public Relations Research 22(3): 288 – 312   

** Pick one major paper from a topic of interest and provide copies (or an electronic copy) of the paper to the class a week in advance. (Please email the instructor the reference info. of your article in advance.)

Analysis of Research Papers & Class Discussion


Analysis of Research Papers & Class Discussion

Conduct Research - Data Collection

Week 9: Oct. 14 – 18

 Public Relations and Marketing

1.      Vorvoreanu, Mihaela (2009), Perceptions of Corporations on
Facebook: An Analysis of Facebook Social Norms, Journal of New Communications Research, Vol. IV(1), 67-85. 

2.      Michel Laroche, Mohammad Reza Habibi, Marie-Odile Richard, Ramesh Sankaranarayanan, The effects of social media based brand communities on brand community markers, value creation practices, brand trust and brand loyalty, Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 28, Issue 5, September 2012, Pages 1755-1767, ISSN 0747-5632, 10.1016/j.chb.2012.04.016. (

3.      Cooper, C. G. (2010). New media marketing: The innovative use of technology in NCAA athletic department E-branding initiatives. Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness, 5(1), 23-32. Retrieved from

** Pick one major paper from a topic of interest and provide copies (or an electronic copy) of the paper to the class a week in advance. (Please email the instructor the reference info. of your article in advance.)

Oct 17 - Draft of Literature Review Due


Analysis of Research Papers & Class Discussion

Drafting a research proposal  Project Guidelines: Part 1(on E-learning)

Analysis of Research Papers & Class Discussion

Analyzing the data

** You should be analyzing data, collecting additional data as needed, and drafting a research paper Project Guidelines: Part 1(on E-learning)

Week 10: Oct. 21 – 25

Introduce Your Literature (4)



Writing Your Research Proposal


Writing Your Research Paper

Week 11: Oct. 28 – Nov. 1

Introduce Your Literature (4)



Analysis of Research Papers & Class Discussion

Introduce Your Literature


Oct. 31st- Draft of Research Hypotheses.



Analysis of Research Papers & Class Discussion

Introduce Your Literature


Oct. 31st- Draft of Your Research Paper

(Optional) Oct. 31st - Submit Your Paper to ICA

Week 12: Nov. 4 – 8

Introduce Your Literature (4)


Refining your research proposal


Refining your research paper

Week 13: Nov. 11 – 15

Prep for your final presentation (Q and A)

Introduce Your Literature (4)


Refining your research proposal


Writing Conclusion and Discussion


Revise your final paper

Week 14: Nov. 18 – 22

Introduce Your Literature (5)


Project Guidelines: Part 1(on E-learning)

Project Guidelines: Part 2 (For the Presentation) (on E-learning)

Project Guidelines: Part 1(on E-learning)

Project Guidelines: Part 2 (For the Presentation) (on E-learning)

Week 15: Nov. 25 – 29

Nov. 27 to 30: Thanksgiving Break – No Class!

Week 16: Dec. 2 – 6

Dec. 4: Final Presentations:  15 Minutes Formal Presentation per Person or Group



Submit Final Research Proposal (Due on Dec. 4th  in class) - No Exception!




Submit Final Research Paper (Due on Dec. 4th  in class) - No Exception!