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

E-mail: a.croom (d0t) ou.edu

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.

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

Apply graphic design concepts and apply appropriate visual communication theories in the effective use and presentation of images and information.

Apply web design concepts and apply web communication techniques and theories in the effective use and presentation of images and information online.

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)

Assignments / Grading

This course has a mix of Design projects assignments and weekly assignments. Weekly assignments will included course readings, watching tutorial videos, writing blog posts, and comment on other student’s blogs. There will be 15 of these throughout the semester and they are worth 10 points each. This one is fairly straight forward: you do what is asked and you will complete an online quiz about those assignments. You will self assess how much of the work you did each week through the unit quiz.

Projects are slightly more long term assignment where you will be submitting a completed design products through a learn.ou.edu dropbox. There will be four of these throughout the semester and they are worth 50-75 points per projects. I grade these against a rubric, which you will get at the beginning of each assignment (click here to view a sample rubric).

Assignments are expected to be turned in on time. Quizzes are due on Mondays and Thursday at noon. I do give a 24-hour grace period for all assignments and will accept work until the following day at noon. Absolutely no assignment will be accepted later than the 24-hour grace period. This is an online class meaning that you have an incredible luxury of being able to work ahead in a lot of cases. My suggestion is to completely take advantage of this and stay ahead of the course schedule. You’ll thank me when finals roll around and you’ve got this class out of the way!

Grade Mix

Weekly Quizzes (30% of final grade)
13 x 10 points each = 130 points
1 x 20 points = 20 points
Total = 150 points

Design Projects (50% of final grade)

Business Card and Letterhead Project – 70 points

Direct Mailer – 70 points

Infographic – 40 points

Newsletter – 70 points

Final Project (20% of final grade)

Summary of Learning – 100 points


Grading Scale

A: 450 – 500 points

B: 400 – 449 points

C: 350 – 399 points

D: 300 – 349 points

F: 0 – 200 points


Course Calendar


  • 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.

Gaylord Computer Lab

This course focuses heavily on some paid tools that exist in Adobe Creative Suite. If you are located in Norman, you can access all of these programs for free in the Gaylord Computer labs.

Your initial login uses your OU NetID (4×4) as your user name, and “changeme” as your password.  You will be prompted to change your password on your first logon Their Gaylord College network login is distinct from your OU Ozone/email login and only applies to the Gaylord College network. You may not share their login information with anyone.  Doing so may result in their losing access to the network. Please log off when finished using a workstation, but never shut down the computers. Please be courteous of the other students who use these spaces by keeping lids on drinks and by being careful with food. Trash and recycling bins are available in all labs and throughout the College.

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 ods@ou.edu.