Robert French posted a question on Pr Open Mic, asking about how and if faculty members are using PRX Builder.

I did not know about the software so I tested it. PRX Builder is a tool that makes it easier to issue a Social Media Release. It provides a good user interface and the end result takes into account both Social Media Optimization and Search Engine Optimization. It does this by using tags, content description and a few other features.

And no, my teachers never used such tools. But I have been faced with similar software applications and PRX Builder is the easiest one to use so far.

At the same time I never felt that previous experience was much of a factor in evaluating or using such tools. So allow me to broaden the scope of Robert’s question: Should we include Public Relations software like PRX Builder in the curriculum of a PR course?

My answer is yes, but I don’t think it’s the most important factor. I finished my college degree and the most I got to learn was HTML. Everything else I had to learn by myself: CSS, a bit of php, and a lot of Search Engine Optimization.

Along the way I also came to realise that new toys come and go. But instead of sticking to what works, I find it’s better to keep an eye out for what’s new and at least try it.

This approach means we need to teach PR students what is important in a webpage. Not just in terms of Social Media Optimization, also in regards to the publishing workflow, archiving features and overall flexibility of the tool.

We also need to keep an eye out for new technology that will change the way we work in PR. RSS Feeds are a perfect example on how a simple technology changed the way we look at a press release.

And next we will probably see XPRL changing the daily routines of the PR office.

Along side XPRL, we will probably see new search engine optimization techniques applied to public relations as a result of the semantic web. Granted that it probably won’t affect much of our workflow, but how will this affect PRX Builder and similar tools?

So yes, PR students should play around with the software. But what they need the most is knowledge and expertise that will allow them to evaluate how the web changes and how it affects PR. Because as a result new tools will come along. And they won’t necessarily be better, only different.