The February Slump Professional Development: Online CoursesAh, the February slump.

The excitement of a new year has passed and it’s still cold and wintry (at least up here in the north) and we’re all tired of being stuck inside.

And it feels doubly worse right now because the coronavirus has everyone freaked out.

But there are some things that can help you out of that slump. And if we are relegated to our homes because of a pandemic, there are some online courses and other activities you can use to pass the time.

As with reading and writing, when it comes to online courses and other 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 you’ll never get over the slump and it’ll soon be summertime and you’ll be in the slow season and nothing will have been accomplished.

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

Let’s set your plan when it comes to online courses! Wheee!

The Spin Sucks Community Recommends Online Courses

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

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 Agency Jumpstart and the PESO Model Certification.
  • We’ve also rounded up a ton of community online course recommendations.

LinkedIn Learning and Coursera 

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

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

But even for those of us here in America who have to pay for LinkedIn Learning, costs aren’t too bad. It’s $29.99/month if you pay month-to-month. So, even if you just invest for the month, 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.

Learn New Skills

There are lots of opportunities for you to learn new skills, as well.

Facebook Messenger Bots is one of those opportunities.

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.

Spin Sucks community member and guest contributor Kevin Anselmo has 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 Online Courses Are Useful, Too

Sometimes the most worthwhile online courses are outside 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 list.

How About You?

Which online courses will you add to your schedule to get yourself out of the February slump?

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

Which courses would you not recommend?

Add your comment below or in the Spin Sucks Community.

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

And let us know what you decide to do because accountability rules!

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

View all posts by Laura Petrolino