Course Syllabus

Hello and welcome to PR Pubs at the University of Oklahoma!

Below is the formal syllabus explaining what the course exactly is but these tend to get a little jargony at times which won’t be incredibly helpful if there is your first introduction into the course. The short of it is this: This course is outcomes centric and thus you will learn by doing. While the first part of the course is focused on understanding design techniques and terminology and is a little more content driven, we will be simply applying this foundational knowledge through different use cases throughout the rest of the semester. The real work are the assignments in which you’ll be creating tangible publication pieces. You’ll then be putting these works onto your blog where you’ll be expected to reflect on your work and give a narrative for your creative process. In the end, you’ll have a robust portfolio (so to speak) which won’t only be a collection of your final work which potential employers can see, but a collection of your thoughts, struggles, and victories throughout this 16-week experience. In essence, you’ll be donning a potentially new hat of “Visual Designer” throughout this exploration. You’ll also be a “Digital Storyteller.” Terms like “digital,” “visual,” or “creative” can seem a little scary to some, but that’s ok right now. Like a good ride at a theme park, a little bit of nervousness makes the ride much more memorable on the back end. Note that most of you are coming in at the same level: novice. This means you all are your biggest allies. I want you to be successful in this course and to do this you will see that I’ve set up ways in which you can lean on and learn from each other’s experiences throughout the course.


Adam Croom

Old Science Hall, Room 224

Phone: (405) 325-2960


Twitter: @acroom

Course Description

Institutional and industrial publications as an important means of internal and external communications with special emphasis on design, layout and content. Laboratory.

Prerequisites: JMC 1013, 2033, 3413, and 3423

Course Objectives

Think critically, creatively and independently.

Understand concepts and apply theories in the use and presentation of images and information

Critically evaluate your own work and that of others for accuracy and fairness, clarity, appropriate style and grammatical correctness

Apply tools and technologies appropriate for the communications professions in which they work

Recognize how public relations publications differ from other publications in purpose, publics, funding and design.


Conduct research, evaluate information and use that knowledge to select appropriate communication channel.

Design for a target audience.

Distinguish and demonstrate the use a variety of publication production techniques and options.

Course Outcomes

Students will launch and maintain a blog as well as comment on the blogs of their peers.

Students will build a foundational knowledge of the landscape of visual communication technologies.

Students will design a business card and letterhead for a brand.

Students will design a direct mail piece for multiple, specific publics.

Students will design a newsletter for an entity.

Students will develop a personal portfolio website.

Course Rationale

This course strives to train students to recognize and apply good publication design techniques in a public relations setting. In addition, students will learn the importance of structuring visual communications for the web. The major goal of the course is to give students the ability to translate a concept of visual communication into an actual publication. Other goals include practice with computer graphics, knowledge of publication techniques and options in print and online, publication production skills and a knowledge of how to work with designers, graphic artists, publication specialists, photographers and commercial printers and web developers to convey their messages to target audiences.


Only one book is required for this course. Other reading and video content will be made available to you as reference material through the semester. For this book, you’ll be doing a blog post per chapter. I would recommend getting the Ebook as it’s only $9, but they also do a print-on-demand version of the text that is available as a paperback.

Walter, A (2011). Designing for Emotion. A Book Part. ISBN: 9781937557003. Buy here. (Paperback: $18+shipping, Ebook: $9, Paperback & Ebook: $22.50+shipping)

Grade Mix

Weekly Assignments
14 x 10 points each = 140 points

Design Projects (50% of final grade)

Business Card and Letterhead Project – 35 points

Direct Mailer – 35 points

Social Media – 35 points

Newsletter –35 points

Summary of Learning – 35 points

Total - 140


Grading Scale

A: 450 – 500 points

B: 400 – 449 points

C: 350 – 399 points

D: 300 – 349 points

F: 0 – 200 points


  • Blog – As mentioned earlier, one of your assignments will be building and maintaining a personal blog with a platform called WordPress. This will require you to get a web domain and server space. There’s more information about how to technically set this up in Week 1.
  • Course Website – If you are reading this, you’re on the course website! Hooray. Here is where you’ll find the majority of course content. Each week has a corresponding module which will tell you what you are expected to do that week. That may include watching videos, reading material, working on a project, a Google Hangout, etc.
  • Course Hub – These are where you’ll be able to see all the different blog posts from all your peers. This will be helpful in seeing what everyone else is up to. You’ll be asked periodically throughout the semester to comment on various posts from other students.
  • Software – This course heavily relies on two specific programs for most of the design work you will be doing: Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign. These apps (plus tons of other nice products from Adobe) are currently available for $15.99 as a product called Creative Cloud Complete. My suggestion is that use this service for the semester. Paying for four months is about $64 for the course. While that is not cheap, it’s small price to pay have resume line items such as “Adobe Photoshop.” That said, I understand that may be out of reach for some. For those close to campus, one option is to utilize the computers in the Gaylord computer labs as they have fully up-to-date versions of both these programs (Note: If you are going to use the computer lab, remember that the computer wipes your files every time you log out. Make sure you always carry a flash drive or external hard drive with you!). For others who don’t have the luxury of visiting campus and still don’t want to splurge on  Adobe Photoshop, graphic design concepts are completely transferable to other (sometimes free) applications. There are even some great options now that are web or tablet based. I’ve created a page for free alternatives to both of these programs. You can use these, but please proceed with caution knowing that my knowledge is significantly limited to what these programs offer.

Lab Hours

GYLD 2150

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

Closed on Friday July 3rd!

Special Needs

Students who need special accommodations or have special needs are invited to share these concerns or requests as soon as possible.  Requests for reasonable accommodation should be addressed to the Disability Resource Center, Goddard Health Center, 620 Elm Avenue, Suite 166, (405) 325-3852, TDD (405) 325-4173, Fax (405) 325-4491 or

Course Summary:

Date Details Due