Immersive simulation as a public relations pedagogical tool

Karen Sutherland, Alistair Ward


The purpose of this study is to explore immersive simulation as a pedagogical method to provide public relations students with the practical experience of media conference coordination and delivery. This experimental research involved surveying public relations writing students in Queensland, Australia before and after the simulation of a media conference in an immersion facility; images and video were projected onto three walls to simulate a range of different scenarios. The survey results indicated that students enjoyed the immersive simulation activity, that it enhanced their learning and analytical skills, and recommended the use of immersive simulation as a public relations teaching tool in the future.  Based on the results of this study, public relations educators are encouraged to consider using immersive simulation as a pedagogical tool in their courses to enhance student learning when providing students with ‘real life’ experiences is unfeasible.


public relations; pedagogy; immersive environments; simulation; media conferences; teaching and learning; higher education

Full Text:



Baglione, S. L. (2006). Role-Playing a Public Relations Crisis. Journal of

Promotion Management, 12(3-4), 47-61.

Brock, K. L. & Cameron, B. J. (1999). Enlivening Political Science Courses with Kolb's Learning Preference Model. PS: Political Science and Politics, 32(2), 251-256.

Chandler, L. & Ward, A. (2016). Immersed in Design: Using an Immersive Teaching Space to Visualize Design Solutions. World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, International Science Index, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, 3(7), 982.

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. (2016). Immersion Room. Events, Current Exhibitions. Retrieved from

de Freitas, S. (2014), Education in Computer Generated Environments. Routledge: London & New York.

Dinis, F.M., Guimarães, A.S., Carvalho, B.R. & Martins, J.P.P. (2017). Virtual and augmented reality game-based applications to civil engineering education. 2017 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), Athens, 1683-1688.

Dutta-Bergman, M., Madhavan, K. & Arns, L. (2005). Responding to bio-terror: A strategic framework for crisis response pedagogy using 3D visualization. International Communication Association: New York, NY.

Fall, L. (2006).Value of engagement: Factors influencing how students perceive their community contribution to public relations internships. Public Relations Review. 32(4), 407-415.

Fitch, K. (2011). Developing professionals: Student experiences of a real-client project. Higher Education Research and Development. 30(4), 491–503.

Grunig, L.A., Hon, L.C. & Toth, E.L. (2013). Women in Public Relations: How Gender Influences Practice. Routledge: Oxon.

Kim, C. & Freberg, K. (2017). The state of social media curriculum: exploring professional expectations of pedagogy and practices to equip the next generation of professionals. Journal of Public Relations Education, 2(2). Retrieved from

McMillan, S. J. (2016). A comparison of characteristics and cultures of academic disciplinary areas in the context of advertising and public relations education. Journal of Advertising Education, 20(1) 22-31,6. Retrieved from

Nayan, L.M., Norazimah, A.R., Nor, E.H.M.R, Audrey, A.J. & Afi, RAB. (2016). Internships Experience of PR Students: An Exploratory Study. Journal of Human Capital Development, 9(1), Retrieved from

Onime, C, Uhomoibhi, J, Austin, R & McNair, V. (2017). Smart technologies and applications for visualisation in higher science and Engineering education: Issues of knowledge integration and virtual experimentation. 2017 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), Athens, 1070-1077.

Pyle, A. S. (2017). Teaching PEACE: A plan for effective crisis communication instruction. Communication Teacher, 1-6.

Savin-Baden, M. (2010). Students’ experiences of learning in immersive spaces. Keynote speech, MET Conference, University of Huddersfield, UK, June, Retrieved from

Savin-Baden, M., Gourlay, L., Tombs, C., Steils, N., Tombs, G. & Mawer, M. (2010). Situating pedagogies, positions and practices in immersive virtual worlds. Educational Research, 152(2), 123-133.

Shellman, S. M., & Turan, K. (2006). Do Simulations Enhance Student Learning? An Empirical Evaluation of an IR Simulation. Journal of Political Science Education, 2(1), 19-32.

Sutherland, K. & Barker, R. (2014). The influence of transmedia storytelling portfolio examples on employer perceptions of public relations graduate employability – a pilot study. Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, 15(1), 55-70.

Swanson, D. J. (2011). The student-run public relations firm in an undergraduate program: Reaching learning and professional development goals through ‘real world’ experience. Public Relations Review, 37(5), 499-505.

Todd, V. (2009). PRSSA Faculty and Professional Advisors' Perceptions of Public Relations Curriculum, Assessment of Students' Learning, and Faculty Performance. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 64(1), 71-90.

University of the Sunshine Coast. (2017). “Technologies”, Research Facilities, Retrieved from

Valente, M. J. & MacKinnon, D. P (2017). Comparing models of change to estimate the mediated effect in the pretest-posttest control group design. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 24(3), 428-450

Veil, S. R. (2010). Using Crisis Simulations in Public Relations Education. Communication Teacher, 24(2), 58-62.

Wang, M. (2016). ADPR 450: Public Relations Theory and Strategy—A Peer Review of Teaching Project Inquiry Portfolio—Using Crisis Simulation to Enhance Crisis Management: The Role of Presence. UNL Faculty Course Portfolios. 9, Retrieved from

Yeomans, L, Kostopoulos, I & Halliday, S. (2016). Internships for all? A critical review of unpaid labour and questions for marketing, public relations and advertising students in the UK. Work, Employment and Society, 06 September 2016 - 08 September 2016, University of Leeds, UK.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The University of Newcastle
ISSN - 1839-8227