Laura Petrolino

Summer Public Relations Professional Development: Online Courses

By: Laura Petrolino | June 4, 2018 | 

public relations professional developmentLast week we discussed some great summertime public relations professional development ideas that revolved around reading and writing.

This week we are going to review some courses and other activities you can add to your line-up this summer.

As with reading and writing, when it comes to courses and other summer PR professional development projects, you want to set goals and plan.

Be ambitious, but not delusional.

Schedule time.

Set goals.

Without a plan, scheduled time, and set goals your summer public relations professional development plans WILL fail.

You can’t just hope it will happen, you have to plan to make it to happen.

So stop reading right now.

If you haven’t already read last week’s article with reading and writing ideas, go back there.

Decide on your reading and writing goals and then figure out what time you’ll have for other professional development activities this summer. Once those two things are done, come back over here.

We’ll wait.

<Insert Jeopardy music>

Ok, let’s set your plan when it comes to online courses! Wheee!

Online Course Recommendations from the Spin Sucks Community

When I was looking for what online courses to include here, I took it to my favorite braintrust: the Spin Sucks Community on Slack.

Here are some of their top picks: 

  • Greg Brooks recommends sales training with Sandler.  As he points out, most communications professionals, and certainly most solopreneurs and agency owners can benefit from sales training. In fact, most desperately need it. Because let’s face it guys, we aren’t good at sales. He also recommends their podcasts. Each a bit less than 30 minutes, and you’ll walk away with actionable, real-world stuff tips to improve your sales game.
  • Carol Prigan is a big fan of the free Hubspot webinars.
  • CARMA also has a YouTube channel full of a bunch of past webinars for communications professionals.
  • Of course, I can’t leave out the Modern Blogging Masterclass.
  • And last summer we rounded up a ton of community online course recommendations.

Lynda and Coursera for Public Relations Professional Development

Sherrilynne Starkie dropped the free-course bomb of the community when she told us that Ontario-based communications pros can access free courses on, with just a library card.

You Canadians! Why do you get all the good stuff?

But even for those of us here in American who have to pay for, costs aren’t too bad. It’s $29.99/month if you pay month-to-month. So, even if you just invest for the summer, it might be worth your while.

(This harkens back to where we started this article—you need a plan. It’s worth your money if you set, and follow, a plan to take courses.)

And a bonus of is you’ll find courses from familiar Spin Sucks faces, such as Martin Waxman and Deirdre Breakenridge.

There is also Coursera, which is free (for everyone, not just Canadians). I’ve personally taken some courses through Coursera and found them (for the most part) pretty good.

Public Relations Professional Development Course I’m Taking This Summer

I’m still formulating my own public relations professional development plan for the summer. When I finish, I’ll share it in the PR Dream Team (#becauseaccountability).

But here is what I know I’m doing course-wise so far: Facebook Messenger Bots. When I found out ManyChat had a free course on them, I signed up right away.

And then the tab set open on my computer. Lonely and unused. Until I finally shut it down and promised myself I’d return to it this summer.

So now it’s summer and I’m finally going to take it. Who wants to join me?

Spin Sucks community member and guest contributor Kevin Anselmo just introduced a short course (40 minutes) which guides individuals on how to translate their research and ideas into blog posts and articles for the media.

It is designed for both researchers and communicators who work in higher ed or research environments and need to support their colleagues.

This is something we work with clients a lot on and so I’m super interested in Kevin’s take on this.

I plan to do this next week, because we have a client it could help immediately.

Finally, I always try to take some time to improve my data analysis game.

Whether it be learning new Google Analytics skills or just supporting my overall data analysis abilities, I’m putting together a plan to support that. 

Non-Public Relations Courses Are Useful, Too

Sometimes the most worthwhile public relations professional development courses are out of our industry altogether.

Whether it’s learning a new skill, working on your mindset. or pushing your creativity to new limits…don’t box your professional development options into an “industry-only” box.

Platforms such as are great places to take courses on a variety of things that will flex your brain, and in the end, make you a better pr pro (and a better human).

I personally think I’d like Stephen Curry to teach me how to play basketball.

I challenge you to add at least one non-industry course to your summer list.

How About You?

What public relations professional development courses will you add to your summer schedule?

Which courses have you already taken which you’d recommend to others?

Which course would you not recommend?

Add your comment below or to our discussion on Slack.

Aim to take at least one industry course and one non-industry course.

When deciding what to take look at what skills you need to fill out? Where your weaknesses are and what aligns with your future goals and strategy (for your business and your career).

About Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.