12 Free Online PR and Communication Courses – The Best of 2021

In every business, aside from providing the best products and delivering the right services, there is another important aspect of running an enterprise successfully. How do you think people will know that your business exists? What image do you wish to show as the business owner? Enter the Public Relations and Communication specialists. These professionals are there to represent your company and help secure your business to the buying public. 

FAQs
What is a Public Relations and Communication Specialist? 
How Can You Become a PR and Communication Specialist?
Is a career in PR and Communication right for you?

The 12 Free Online College Classes for PR and Communication in 2021
Introduction to Public Relations & the Media Specialization(The University of Colorado Boulder, via Coursera)
Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content (The University of Pennsylvania, via Coursera)
The Strategy of Content Marketing (The University of California, Davis, via Coursera)
Introduction to Personal Branding (The University of Virginia, via Coursera)
Dynamic of Public Speaking (The University of Washington, via Coursera)
English for Media Literacy (The University of Pennsylvania, via Coursera)
Improve Your English Communication Skills (Georgia Institute of Technology, via Coursera)
Improving Communication Skills (The University of Pennsylvania, via Coursera)
Business English Communication Skills ( The University of Washington, via Coursera
Introduction to Personal Branding (The University of Virginia)
Communication in the 21st Century Workplace (The University of California, Irvine, via Coursera)
Converting Challenges into Opportunities (University of California San Diego via Coursera)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Public Relations and Communication Specialist? 

A public relations and communication specialist is responsible for creating and keeping relationships between a brand or company they represent and the public. They are also responsible for managing an organization’s internal communication like designing brand awareness programs, creating company-wide newsletters, and even getting employees’ feedback relative to its communications strategy. 

Apart from working on the branding programs and the many internal communications strategies of a company, these specialists are also the brand’s public face. They craft press releases, respond to media requests, and even manage actual events on behalf of the company. 

PR and communications specialists are tasked with shaping relationships between an organization and the public. Most of the time, these relationships can either make or break a business venture. However, we all know that the media is a good or a bad thing. Customers with good experiences will likely leave good reviews and positive compliments. But if some are not happy about their experiences, they will tell everybody about it. This is where the PR and communications specialist comes into the picture. They are there to address issues, ensure the client’s reputation is protected, and do not look bad in the public eye. 

The PR and communication specialists also study and research a company to develop innovative and positive ideas that need to get recognized. From there, they can translate these observations into topics of interest to the clients. They should also be aware of new business ventures and solutions and share these with their company by providing projected sales and audience statistics. PR specialists cover press conferences, media coverages, and grand openings. They also write press releases, and for some, conduct exhibitions and company tours. 

Free Online PR and Comm Classes - fact

How Can You Become a PR and Communication Specialist?

The PR and Communication field has so many career opportunities, especially for fresh graduates. If you are interested in getting a career in this field, how do you start? Here are some helpful steps you can follow to become a PR and communication specialist. 

Know where your PR and communication passion lies. Is working with different companies your primary goal, or do you prefer to work in a specific firm so you can get an in-depth knowledge of your passion? Knowing what you’re passionate about can help identify the direction you want your PR and communication career to take. For example, if you prefer a more hands-on knowledge of a particular industry, becoming an in-house PR team specialist is a good fit. But if you are more interested in working with different brands and projects, working at a PR agency is your best bet. 

Try a PR internship. A PR and communication internship gives you the actual hands-on experience of working with real clients. This gives you an idea of the industries or brands you are most likely to work with. Although it will depend on the type of internship you wish to have, your options are many. You can either build a brand strategy or support account executives to manage their client accounts, manage social channels, write press releases, and a lot more. Getting an internship will amp your resumé and give you that sense of the type of PR career you want. 

Take relevant classes to build your skillset. Public relations and communication, at its core, is all about storytelling. To be successful in any PR career, it’s your goal to clearly define and successfully promote and convey the stories of the clients you are working for. You must have impeccable communication skills and a strong media and marketing trends background to do this efficiently.

To achieve this, take relevant classes like marketing, communications, and media studies. These classes are designed to improve your understanding of the media industry. You will also get unique and strong insights into how you engage with your audience.

Another helpful way to improve your skills is to take freelance projects or even create your brand. It’s a project that doesn’t have to be massive; it only needs to exude that you understand how to develop a brand identity. Let’s say you are passionate about baking or cooking. You can create a food blog and make a brand strategy around it. Although doing this does not guarantee you are landing a PR job, showing how you take the initiative and create and execute a PR strategy goes a long way in impressing potential hiring managers. 

Be prepared for the interview process. A PR and communication job interview usually involves showing how well-informed you are about the industry and how passionate you are about working on projects to help clients promote and define their stories. During a PR job interview, some of the most common questions include “What to you is PR?” or “Can you share what your favorite brand is, and why?”. 

These fundamental but tricky questions will test your understanding of marketing and branding techniques. Employers will try to find out your genuine interest in public relations. To address these questions efficiently, show how enthusiastic you are about the field and how eager and open you are to improve your knowledge in helping brands succeed. 

Build a solid and robust network. Networking is a critical aspect of securing a job, regardless of the field, and this is even more important in public relations and communication. PR jobs heavily rely on building strong relationships between a brand and with audiences and journalists to deliver positive results. 

To be successful, work on building a solid relationship with journalists and with your colleagues. Attend meetups or networking events. Connect with other people on professional platforms like LinkedIn. When you are working in the PR field, this is a fantastic opportunity for you to promote the brands you’re passionate about.

Communications courses

RELATED READ: The Top 10 Online Colleges For Bachelor’s In Public Relations 2021

Is a Career in PR and Communication right for you?

The PR and communication industry is a field filled with growth opportunities. The US News and World Report have said PR is the third-best creative and media job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that the employment projection for PR and communication specialists will grow six percent between 2014 and 2024. Within this period, around 15,000 new jobs in this field need to get filled. PR is also quickly becoming in demand in marketing, thus, the growing need for more PR specialists. 

Are you planning to have a career in PR and communication? Below are tell-tale signs that this challenging but fulfilling industry is perfect for you.

You are always glued to your phone. Always. Forget your favorite candy crush game– most PR specialists always have their phones nearby so they can quickly attend emails, take a client or reporter call, and accommodate their social media following. 

The PR and communication field is not a nine-to-five, five-day-a-week job, especially if your campaigns are mostly digital: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat; all running 24/7. If getting interrupted while you’re binge-watching your favorite Netflix series is not an issue for you, and you can easily take a call or hook up with a reporter with a good source for a news event, a PR career is definitely for you. 

You can keep up with deadlines. PR specialists are usually pressured by the expectations from their clients and executives. When newsrooms shrink, a PR specialist can help with the load, even if it means facing very tight deadlines. Those who can keep up with these challenges will come out on top. The best PR and communication specialists never crumble even under pressure. They become more motivated to deal with the problems and successfully produce press releases, ideas, and connections to reach their goals under tight pressure. 

You are good at building relationships. Many people misconstrue PR pros as extroverts. But they are good communicators and are highly skilled in making and keeping relationships with their clients, partners, customers, and other people that companies need for success. PR specialists collaborate with other counterparts: human resources, marketing, advertising, and the executive suite. If you are a good listener and understand the importance of bringing people together, a career in PR and communication is right significant. 

You are keen on details. You are aware of setting objectives and campaign goals. During a press conference, you make it a point that the press packets of each reporter present are filled with the relevant information, and you double-check that the audio and visual equipment is working correctly. A good PR specialist knows that the bigger picture comprises so many more minor but crucial details. If you have these critical qualities, a PR and communication career is a good move. 

You write very well. You don’t have to be at par with Shakespeare or Christopher Marlowe. But the PR specialists who can seamlessly turn a phase often find themselves with more client opportunities and better career chances. When you practice effective writing habits, coupled with a firm handle on AP style, this will not only boost your media relations effort but also advance your social media prowess. 

You can deal with rejection. In the field of PR and communication, “no” is common. PR pros should learn how to deal with hearing a “no,” or even nothing at all, from people you sent your pitches to, especially if these are filled with irrelevant and non-news subject matters. 

But this rejection does not only revolve around rejected pitches. PR pros can be declined by clients as well. If you have that attitude of taking “no” as a challenge even to do better, your determination and persistence will eventually pay off. 

ALSO READ: Career Guide: Your Path To A Political Science Career

The 12 Free Online College Classes for PR and Communication in 2021

If you are thinking about joining the PR and communication industry, here are 12 free online college classes that you should try. 

Introduction to Public Relations & the Media Specialization(The University of Colorado Boulder, via Coursera)

Free Online College Classes for PR and Communication 1

This specialization course is suitable for students who want to practice public relations. You are taught how to use various tools in managing an organization, about the many forms of media, how to work appropriately with journalists, or how to create strategic communication to boost a company. This four-month course will teach you:

  • To comprehend what PR is and how valuable it is to an organization’s branding.
  • Come up with the best PR materials like social media content, press releases, and a list of influencers to add to your professional portfolio.
  • To incorporate the tenets of PR theories to a business, an organization, or even to your brand.
  • To manage an organization’s reputation.
  • To prepare a positive crisis communication plan for any business or organization.

This specialization has three courses: 

Principles of Public Relations- This is where you will have an overview of the PR theories and regulations relevant to the practice. 

Working with the Media- You will learn about branding and your roles as a PR specialist instead of its adjacent fields like marketing and advertising.

The Nuts and Bolts of Public Relations- This is where you will learn how to make the necessary collateral about doing public relations. This includes story pitches, press releases, and a media contact list. 

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Shareable Certificate
  • Flexible Schedule
  • Suitable for beginners (no background knowledge needed, but you should have an interest in media)
  • Four months to complete (at one hour per week)
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Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content (The University of Pennsylvania, via Coursera)

Free Online College Classes for PR and Communication 2

This free online course is ideal for those working with content, especially those who wish to make compelling content for their target audience. Have you ever wondered why there are popular products, and there are some that are not? Why are some products big hits in the market while others flop? This course will teach you how things catch on and how you can apply effective marketing strategies to a brand or product. 

Professor Jonah Berger teaches the course. She draws her marketing principle from his best-selling book,” Contagious: Why Things Catch On.” He will share his knowledge on successful marketing strategies to incorporate with your campaign so that they become more shareable on social media platforms and elsewhere. 

This free online course is divided into four parts: 

What Makes Ideas Sticky?- This is where you will understand what makes ideas, products, and behaviors contagious. You will learn the science behind why there are popular campaigns, and there are some that fail. 

How Social Influence Shapes Behavior- You will examine the power of social influence in shaping everything people do: from the products we buy, the food we choose, or the careers we wish to pursue. You will learn how buyers can use others in helping them make critical choices and how organizations can take advantage of this power in shaping the services and products they use. 

The Power of Word of Mouth- This is where you will gain a complete understanding of why word of mouth is ten times as effective as the usual advertising campaigns you see. 

Social Networks- This class teaches you all about social networks and how these can help spread influence and information. 

Social networking

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Shareable Certificate
  • It takes 4 hours to complete
  • Numerous examples and materials
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The Strategy of Content Marketing (The University of California, Davis, via Coursera)

Free Online College Classes for PR and Communication 3

If you are planning to start your content marketing journey, taking this course is a wise move. The free online class focuses on touching base points of content marketing and further delves into what you need as a content marketer. 

This online course, offered by UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education, partners with Copyblogger, a leading content marketing authority. You will learn the primary methods most successful content marketers use to gain and retain their customers profitably. You are taught how to create, organize, and implement an effective content marketing strategy, write compelling content, study, and build a professional authority and brand via content marketing. 

This course has four sub-classes: The Content Marketing Ecosystem, The Strategic Context (The 7A Framework), Mapping the Journey: Crafting Content Marketing Strategy, and The Strategic Types of Content. 

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Shareable Certificate
  • Flexible deadlines
  • Nineteen hours to complete
  • Best suited for intermediate level learners
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Introduction to Personal Branding (The University of Virginia, via Coursera)

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In today’s E-network business setups, understanding and application of personal branding are very important. This course will help you identify the best ways of creating your branding: from understanding your personality to making your business objective and mission statement to engaging your audience on various social media platforms. 

This course is taught by Kimberley R. Barker, the Manager for Technology Education and Computing at the University of Virginia. She provides a supportive and warm atmosphere where students are encouraged to think outside the box to develop an authentic personal brand, which communicates their professional gifts and values. What’s great about this class is the community it builds among its students. Everybody can get feedback, encouragement, and support as you all pursue your goals of successful brand creation. 

By the end of this course, you must:

  • Have a clear understanding of what personal branding is and how it plays a crucial role in inhabiting a brand
  • Display a brand on three social media platforms
  • Develop a mission statement for a brand
  • Get familiar with reputation management and digital security
  • Establish a board of directors for a brand
  • Develop a system for current brand maintenance

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Flexible deadlines
  • Shareable certificate
  • It takes seven hours to complete
  • Ideal for beginners
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Dynamic of Public Speaking (The University of Washington, via Coursera)

Free Online College Classes for PR and Communication 5

The University of Washington offers a free online class called the Dynamic of Public Speaking thru Coursera. This five-month specialization class will help you become an excellent public speaker as you master the techniques for developing and delivering compelling presentations. 

Taught by Dr. Matt MacGarrity, this course is divided into four specific areas.

  • Introduction to Public Speaking
  • Speaking to Inform: Discussing complex ideas with clear explanations and dynamic slides.
  • Speaking to Persuade: Motivating audiences with solid argument and moving language.
  • Speaking to Inspire: Ceremonial and Motivational Speeches

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Flexible schedule
  • Shareable Certificate
  • It takes five months to complete (at three hours per week)
  • Suitable for beginners; no prior experience needed
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English for Media Literacy (The University of Pennsylvania, via Coursera)

Free Online College Classes for PR and Communication 6

This is a course that gives you so much valuable knowledge about media. The structure of all the lessons is easy to understand, and there are so many learning activities that will help develop you. Developed by the University of Pennsylvania, and funded by the US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of English Language Programs, this course is suitable for non-native English speakers who wish to learn more about US media literacy. 

By the end of the class, you will better know the role that media plays in daily life while you continue to build your vocabulary and learn the language skills required to analyze what you watch and read. The first part of the course provides an in-depth introduction to media literacy. The second part is where you are taught how to check facts versus opinions in media realms. 

The third class discusses social media and traditional media more, while the final course discusses how gender and identity are handled. Finally, the last unit is where you will show your improved media literacy by a culminating final project on social media. 

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Shareable Certificate
  • Flexible deadlines
  • It takes 42 hours to complete
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Improve Your English Communication Skills (Georgia Institute of Technology, via Coursera)

Free Online College Classes for PR and Communication 7

This specialization class is designed to significantly improve your professional English communication skills to achieve successful business interactions. Every course of this class concentrates on a specific area of English communication: speaking at interviews and meetings, writing emails, networking online, and giving presentations. Having the right communication skills can help you achieve both your professional and language goals. Thus, you need to have the best English communication skills to communicate to clients, employees, potential employers, and even your peers.

This specialization has four courses:

  • Write Professional Emails in English
  • Speak English Professionally: In-Person, Online, and On the Phone
  • Build Your Professional ePortfolio in English
  • Take English Communication Skill to the Next Level

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Shareable Certificate
  • Flexible Deadlines
  • It takes five months to complete
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Taught by industry professors Gerry Landers, Amalia B. Stephens, and Karen Peterson– all from Georgia Tech Language Institute.
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Improving Communication Skills (The University of Pennsylvania, via Coursera)

Free Online College Classes for PR and Communication 8

This free online course is an excellent class on communication skills that every professional should take, as this teaches you the fundamentals of communication that everyone should incorporate and practice every day. Maurice Schweitzer, an award-winning Wharton professor and author of the best-selling book called “Improving Communications Skills,” handles the class and is created to give you both the tools and strategies needed to enhance your communication skills and use these to your advantage. 

Through the course, you will learn how to tell if somebody is lying, apologize, develop trust, and even know about the best methods of communication for negotiation. You are also taught when to cooperate and when it’s okay to compete, how to ask the right questions, how to develop persuasive messages, and how you can choose the suitable medium (video conference, face-to-face conversations, emails, or phone calls) for your message. 

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Shareable Certificate
  • Flexible Deadline
  • Ten hours to complete
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Handled by an award-winning Wharton Professor, Maurice Schweitzer
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Business English Communication Skills (The University of Washington, via Coursera)

Free Online College Classes for PR and Communication 9

This intermediate-level specialization course was created to effectively teach you how to communicate in English in a professional context. The course will boost your English vocabulary, enhance your English writing and speaking skills in both professional and social interactions, and add new terminologies and skills that you can use to telephone conversations, business negotiations, email, written reports, and professional presentations. 

This specialization has five courses:

  • Business English: Networking
  • Business English: Meetings
  • Business English: Planning and Negotiating
  • Business English: Making Presentations
  • Business English: Capstone Project

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Shareable Certificate
  • Flexible Deadlines
  • Ideal for the intermediate-level learners
  • It takes six months to complete (at five hours per week)
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Introduction to Personal Branding (The University of Virginia)

Free Online College Classes for PR and Communication 10

In today’s modern world, personal branding is very critical. This course helps you identify the best ways to come up with your branding– from understanding your personality to creating your mission statement and how you can successfully engage your audience on social media. Although personal branding is not new, creating and maintaining one remains a challenge. 

Topics in this free online course include:

  • An Overview of Personal Branding
  • Building your Brand’s Infrastructure
  • Establishing Your Brand’s Digital Home: A Guide to Claiming Your Parts of the Web
  • Creating Your Brand’s Maintenance Plan
  • Your Online Identity: How Reputation and Digital Privacy Affect your Brand

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Shareable Certificate
  • Flexible Deadlines
  • It takes seven hours to complete
  • Suitable for beginners 
  • Well-designed course
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Communication in the 21st Century Workplace (The University of California, Irvine, via Coursera)

Free Online College Classes for PR and Communication 11

This free online course allows you to explore different communications techniques that will improve how you communicate– verbally or virtually. In this course, you will learn:

  • The many advantages of practicing effective communication in a workplace
  • Evaluate and deal with everyday problems related to communication
  • Study how executive managers communicate
  • Practice proven methods to achieve effective webinars and conference calls

The course has four topics:

  • Communicating with Peers
  • Communicating with your Manager
  • Communicating with Executives
  • Communicating with your Direct Reports

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Shareable Certificate
  • Flexible Deadlines
  • Six hours to complete
  • Suitable for both newbies and intermediate learners
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Converting Challenges into Opportunities (University of California San Diego via Coursera)

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This is a beautiful free online course filled with good exercises and lots of takeaways. The course will teach you how to use the skills and knowledge required to leverage right-and-left-brain thinking, boost your creativity, practice innovative ideas in the workplace, and analyze problems. You will be working toward data-driven solutions using the power of design thinking and models of Creative Problem Solving.

By the end of the course, students:

  • Have a clear understanding of designs and whole-brain thinking
  • Utilize creative thinking and creative public solving skills with the use of innovative techniques in overcoming challenges and eventually bringing out the best innovations
  • Integrate scientific research and qualitative methods when dealing with workplace problems

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Shareable Certificate
  • Flexible Deadlines
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Ten hours to complete
  • Headed by the Director of Research of UC San Diego Extension, Josh Sapiro, PhD

The PR and communication field is booming today and will continue to be one of the most in-demand careers in the future. As long as you have the proper specialized training, you’re off to a good start. After all, PR firms are always hungry for talent and skills.