Advertising and public relations term paper topics

Some good research paper topics are to discuss current advertising and public relations techniques in the digital age.

Find out more about advertising and public relations. (Credit:

Find out more about advertising and public relations. (Credit:

High profile companies and organizations like Apple News, NASA and Victoria’s Secret have devised creative ways to distribute ads and news, which you can write about for your research paper.

Blur between news and advertising

In the world of “sponsored links,” the line between real news and an advertisement is blurring like never before. The “Sponsored Content” episode of South Park offered blistering commentary on the difficulty of everyday people to tell the difference between news and ads on the Internet. In the show, only Jimmy had the special ability to discern news from a legitimate source and the puff articles, also called click bait, that bring readers to an advertiser’s page.

A good research paper topic is to discuss how this is happening in the real world and the possible implications of it. According to Jacob Kastrenakes in “Apple News will let advertisers post sponsored articles,” posted March 14, 2016, on, Apple News will now allow “advertisers to place their own articles right alongside the editorial stories people open up the app to find. Sponsored stories will appear in the news feed like any other article.” The optimal phrase here is “like any other article,” as the only difference will be a small note under the article saying “Sponsored” to denote it as an ad.

Companies package their own news

A term paper topic is to describe how, in the fast paced world of 24-hour news cycles, companies with well-paid communications and public relations departments are distributing not just press releases, but whole news releases. They post these on their websites and give them to news outlets that often just reprint the copy without any additional reporting. This can be both good and bad. It’s bad when news organizations take everything at face value and don’t verify information. But it can be good if the information is very technical, and the company has made an effort to put it into easy-to-understand language.

Case in point, NASA recently sent out a news release about its discovery of the oldest galaxy, 13.1 billion light years away. “For scientific institutions with the resources to hire their own writers, press releases are an effective way to put their research out into the media in a positive light,” said Andrew Han in “Public Relations at NASA,” in Journal for the History of Astronomy, February 1, 2016. NASA has been doing this for years. “When building its staff of public information officers in the lead up to the lunar landing, NASA often hired experienced journalists,” said Han.

Ill-conceived advertising that changed

Another topic is to write about advertising campaigns that failed because of consumer outrage. The advertising world often thinks it can dictate to us what is fashionable or trendy, but sometimes we’re not so gullible. Last year, Victoria’s Secret took fire for its “The Perfect Body” campaign ads in which dangerously thin models wore the company’s underwear under the label of having a “perfect body.”

Since 99.9% of the female population looks nothing like those models, a petition gathered 27,000 petitions to change the ads. The petition read: “Every day women are bombarded with advertisements aimed at making them feel insecure about their bodies… All this does is perpetuate low self-esteem among women who are made to feel that their bodies are inadequate and unattractive,” reported by Nina Bahadur in “Victoria’s Secret ‘Perfect Body’ Campaign Changes Slogan After Backlash,” in Huffington Post November 6, 2014. The petition worked (sort of) as Victoria’s Secret changed the tagline “The Perfect Body” to “A Body for Every Body,” but still kept the photos of the impossibly thin models.

For more information, check out Questia’s library on Advertising and Public Relations. 

What ways are advertising and public relations changing in the digital age?

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