Public Relations Writing

 

Public Relations Writing

Spring, 2016

APR 332 Section 321

 

Tuesday / Thursday   6:30 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.

Reese Phifer Hall 334       

 

Instructor: Brandon Chicotsky

Email: Brandon@Chicotsky.com, Mobile: 817-800-1798 (text only, please)

Office hours are held Tuesday and Thursday from 9:15 a.m - 10:15 a.m. or by appointment.

 

The following syllabus has been adapted from curriculum implemented by Dr. Kenon Brown, Dr. Nia Johnson and Dr. Suzanne Horsley. Several sections, including “prerequisites”, “learning objectives” and “strategic communication plan” correspond with the aforementioned instructors’ course design.

 

Course Description

 

Welcome to a course that includes a mix of collaborative workshop-style learning and independent writing development. Students will advance their writing knowledge with a focus on industry and workplace applications in the area of public relations. The theories and tactics explained in this course refer to industry practices. As a writing-based course, many of the required assignments focus on portfolio-building and writing techniques that enable students to advance their professionalism. This course is considered upper-division and aims to help prepare students to enter the job market. Therefore, professional standards are expected of each student throughout the course.

 

Values of the Course that Must be Adhered by all Parties 

Primary ACEJMC values—a) Professional ethical principles; work ethically in pursuit of truth, fairness; b) Think critically, creatively, independently; c) Write correctly and clearly in forms and styles appropriate; d) Critically evaluate one’s own work and that of others; e) Apply tools and technologies for profession

 

Secondary ACEJMC values—a) Principles of law, freedom of speech, and the press; b) Understand gender, race, ethnicity, diversity—domestic; c) Conduct research, evaluate information

 

Prerequisites

 

To be enrolled in this course, you must have junior standing and you must have taken and earned a “C-" or better in the following courses: MC 101, JN 311, APR 231 and APR 300. The College of Communication and Information Sciences requires that all students enrolled in upper division courses (300 and 400 levels) maintain an overall GPA of 2.0. If you have not met these requirements, or if you lack the course prerequisites, you will be required to drop the course.

 

The “W” Designation

 

This class is designated as a writing course. Your writing will be evaluated not only for content (your ideas and the extent to which you develop them), but also for grammatical form, sentence structure (execution) and AP style. You will have written and oral feedback about your work from me.

 

Course Objectives — At the conclusion of the course, students will be expected to meet the following objectives:

  1. Understand how to learn (environmental scanning) and how to think critically.

  2. Apply critical thought to strategic planning by learning and applying the four-step process (research, planning, communication, evaluation).

  3. Understand how to match strategic communication messages with appropriate channels of delivery in print, broadcast and on the Web.

  4. Understand the concept of relationship building and the ways in which public relations writing can contribute to those efforts.

  5. Understand and apply theoretical concepts in persuasion, mass communication and public relations.

  6. Understand and apply legal concepts of particular concern to public relations.

  7. Understand the relationship between ethics and professionalism.

  8. Understand, identify and be able to apply five dimensions of news value.

  9. Master AP Style and the delivery of clean, concise and effective copy.

 

Assessment of Outcomes — Success in this course will be demonstrated by the following outcomes:

  1. Understanding how to learn (environmental scanning) and how to think critically are evaluated by the student’s development of a client-based research document.

  2. Understanding how to apply critical thought through the four-step process is evaluated by an objective-driven communication plan and collateral development for the class client.

  3. Understanding how to match messages with channels is evaluated by the development of the plan’s messages and tactics and by collateral development for the class client.

  4. Understanding the role of relationship building in PR writing is evaluated by the strategic decisions the student makes and defends in the communication plan and in collateral development for the class client.

  5. Understanding and applying theoretical concepts is evaluated by the communication plan, collateral development for the class client and ongoing class discussions.

  6. Understanding and applying legal concepts is evaluated by the communication plan, collateral development and ongoing class discussion.

  7. Understanding the relationship between ethics and professionalism is evaluated by an ethical dilemma assignment and class discussions.

  8. Understanding, identifying and being able to apply five dimensions of news value is evaluated through exercises, media collateral development and ongoing class discussions.

  9. Mastering AP Style and the delivery of clean copy is evaluated by the technical quality of their written presentations.

 

 

 

______________________________________________________________________________

 

 

APR Mission Statement

 

Our mission is to prepare highly competent, socially conscious and engaged leaders to shape the future of global advertising and public relations.

 

Course Materials and Textbooks

 

Lectures and class discussions will be based on supplemental readings from several resources, including textbooks, websites and articles. Some readings will be available via Blackboard Learn; however, the following books and materials are required for the class:

 

  • Associated Press Stylebook, 2014 edition or more recent

 

ISBN: 9780917360589

Retail: N/A

Author:

Publisher: Ap

 

  • A Pocket Style Manual APA Version

 

ISBN: 9780312568498

Retail: $31.99

Author: Sommers, Nancy, Hacker, Diana

Publisher: Bedford/Saint Martin’s

 

  • Associated Press Guide to Punctuation

 

ISBN: 9780738207858

Retail: $11.99

Author: Cappon, Rene J.

Publisher: Basic Books

 

  • The PR Style Guide (3rd Ed.), Barbara Diggs-Brown

 

ISBN: 9781111348113

Retail: $96.95

Author: Diggs-Brown, Barbara

Publisher: Wadsworth

 

  • When Words Collide

 

ISBN: 9781285764382

Retail: N/A

Author: Lauren Kesser and Duncan McDonald

Publisher: Cengage

 

  • Additional required readings will be provided on Blackboard.

  • Registration on News University (www.newsu.org) (It’s FREE!).

  • ACT Card with funds to print out class assignments as requested.

  • USB drive or other remote method for saving in-class work.

  • Wix or Weebly account (to be explained in class).

 

Attendance Policy

 

You are expected to attend class and group meetings at the designated times. If you are unable to attend a class or a group meeting, you must notify me via email (brandon@chicotsky.com) by the day before your absence at the latest for the absence to be excused. You may also text: 817-800-1798.

 

You are allowed two (2) absences, excused or unexcused, and after those absences, I will deduct ten (10) points from your final grade for each additional unexcused absence. Any absences after your “free” absences must be properly documented to be considered excused. Students who do not attend the first two class meetings will be dropped from the course.

 


 

Emergency Procedures

 

In the case of a tornado warning (a tornado has been sighted or detected by radar; sirens have been activated), all university activities are automatically suspended, including all classes. If you are in a building, move immediately to the lowest level and away from windows and remain there until the tornado warning has expired. Classes in session when the warning is issued can resume immediately after the warning has expired at the discretion of the instructor. Classes that have not yet begun will resume 30 minutes after the tornado warning has expired.

 

You should become familiar with all building exits to help you prepare for any campus emergency. Subscribe to Tide Text Alerts to receive emergency notifications. If time does not allow our class to resume, check Blackboard for any notices or information that you will need for the next class period. You should also consider having an ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact on your cell phone.

 

Deadlines

 

All assignments are due on the date provided on your assignment sheets provided throughout the course by your instructor. No late assignments will be accepted without instructor approval beforehand, and extensions will only be given under extraordinary circumstances. The instructor reserves the right to move due dates later in the schedule.

 

Class Guidelines

 

  • Utilize your laptop, tablet or mobile device during class constructively. Do not allow your device(s) to distract you or your classmates under any circumstances.

  • Incorporate digital media into your presentations and group work. Utilize collaborative online applications to enhance your work and team building and group productivity.

  • Under no circumstances is plagiarism acceptable.

  • Participation is encouraged and expected of all students. Prepare for class by reading all assigned materials before class. Complete your reading and module assignments by the deadlines provided.

  • Submit all written communication, including emails, in a professional format.

  • Submit all written assignments via Microsoft Word to Brandon@Chicotsky.com or Blackboard, depending on the instruction by your instructor.

  • Remain respectful of classmates, especially team members, at all times.

 

Campus Diversity Statement

 

The University endorses a student, faculty and administrative community enriched by women and men of diverse national origins, races, ethnicities, cultures, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds, ages, physical abilities and religious/political beliefs. The University is committed to offering diverse cultural programs that enhance awareness and appreciation of cultural and individual diversity, promote community and prepare students for the global society in which they will live and work. It is the goal of The University of Alabama to cultivate a hospitable campus environment in which all members of the University can work together and learn from each other in a climate of mutual respect. (Excerpt from Statement on Diversity, which can be viewed online at http://eop.ua.edu/policies.html.)

 

This class is also a safe environment for all variations of sexual orientation, gender and self-identity.

 

Disability Services Statement

 

The Office of Disability Services is available to assist any student who has a qualified and documented disability. Once you are registered with ODS, you are encouraged to make an appointment with the instructor to discuss any special accommodations that you will need in this class. ODS is located at 133-B Martha Parham East and can be reached at 348-4285 or http://ods.ua.edu/.

 

Academic Integrity Statement

 

All students in attendance at The University of Alabama are expected to be honorable and observe standards of conduct appropriate to a community of scholars. The University of Alabama expects from its students a higher standard of conduct than the minimum required to avoid discipline. Academic misconduct by students includes all acts of dishonesty in any academically related matter and any knowing or intentional help or attempt to help, or conspiracy to help, another student commit an act of academic dishonesty, including cheating, plagiarism, fabrication and misrepresentation. The Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Policy will be followed in the event of academic misconduct. You may review the full Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Code online at http://facultysenate.ua.edu/handbook/append-c.html. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to each of the following acts when performed in any type of academic or academically related matter, exercise or activity.

  

Course Assignments

 

Strategic Communication Plan (25 percent)

 

Refer to APR332.com for more details on this assignment.

 

Deadline #1: Agency Identity/Mission and Service / Product Offering.

You will submit your agency’s name, logo and mission statement. You will also provide a profile of your target demographic and business objectives. This information must be submitted via email (assignments@apr332.com) before midnight of the due date.

 

Deadline #2: Situation Analysis and Campaign Focus.

You will write a complete situation analysis (with background information, a public relations audit and a SWOT or problem/opportunity analysis) and your campaign focus (with a problem statement, goals and audience profiles). This information must be submitted via (assignments@apr332.com) before midnight of the due date.

 

Deadline #3: Campaign Plan and Revised Situation Analysis/Campaign Focus.

By this deadline, you will provide a revised situation analysis and campaign focus, along with a proposed campaign plan with two objectives, 2-3 strategies and 15-20 tactics. This information will be submitted via email (assignments@apr332.com) before midnight of the due date.

 

Deadline #4: Promotional/Media Kit and Strategic Communication Plan.

By this deadline, you will submit your final strategic communication plan. All tactics proposed in the campaign plan must be completed.

 

Module Assignments (25 percent)

 

Some module assignments may involve allocated class time to complete the training. Module assignments are as follows:

 

  • SWOT Analysis, Problem Statement and Campaign Plan.

  • Traditional and Social Media News Release, Media Advisory and Radio PSA.

  • Social Media Schedule, Social Media Posts and Digital Video Storyboard.

  • Direct Mail Packet – Letter, Brochure and Reply Card (completed in pairs).

 

Attendance Quizzes (10 percent)

 

Immediately upon entering class, students must go to the following site and complete a quiz: PlatformMagazine.org/Quizzes

 

Students may retake the quiz until they score a perfect grade. Once the perfect grade score has been recorded, students must screen shot their results and send it to attendance@apr332.com. Along with the screenshot of your completed quiz, include your full name.

 

Students will have ample time at the start of class to complete their attendance quiz.            

 

Online Branding / Individual PR (20 percent)

 

Refer to APR332.com for more information on this assignment. You will be tasked with online branding that involves the following:

 

  • Cover letter

  • Résumé

  • Personal narrative

  • Business brief news release

  • Online portfolio showcase

  • Blog stories

  • Strategic social media

  • Personal website

  • Brand associations

 

Class Participation (20 percent)

 

You will be graded based on your in-class participation, including discussions about lecture topics and peer editing module assignments. If the class seems disconnected and/or disinterested during lectures, an impromptu quiz based on the readings may be given and will count against your class participation grade. You will be assigned a peer editor for the semester, and failure to adequately edit your partner’s module assignments will count toward your participation grade.

 

Your participation grade also includes peer evaluations:

 

There will be periodic peer evaluations for several assignments throughout the course. It’s critical that all students grade honestly and accurately. Grades for class participation are given to students who give and receive peer evaluations.

 

Extra Credit Opportunity

 

An extra credit assignment may announced midway through the course. If such an assignment is deemed necessary by your instructor, an assignment sheet will be provided well in advance of the deadline (date TBA). Submissions should be provided to (assignments@apr332.com).

 

Grading Scale

A+       100-98             A         97-93               A-        92-90               B+       89-87              

B         86-83               B-        82-80               C+       79-77               C         76-73

C-        72-70               D         69-60               F          59 and below

 

Focus and Organization

 

Excellent (4): Your information was consistent with your communication objectives and is clearly written for your target audience, and your tactic was written in inverted-pyramid style or with emphasis on the most important information.

 

Good (3): There is some disconnect with the focus of your tactic, either with your objectives or target audience, OR your tactic did not place emphasis on the most important information.

 

Average (2): There is some disconnect with the focus of your tactic, either with your objectives or target audience, AND your tactic did not place emphasis on the most important information.

 

Needs Improvement (1): Your tactic did not address your objectives or target audience, and your information is not relevant.

 

Structure and Format

 

Excellent (4): Your tactic was structured appropriately (bullets, subheads, links, transitions, etc.) and your format was correct for that particular tactic.

 

Good (3): You had minor issues with structure and format, but the issues did not reduce the effectiveness of your tactic (usually no more than two mistakes).

 

Average (2): You have a major or a consistent, repeated issue with structure and format.

 

Needs Improvement (1): Your structure and format are incorrect.

 

Content

 

Excellent (4): Your content was clear and concise (no unclear, confusing or redundant statements).

 

Good (3): You had minor issues with clarity, but the issues did not reduce the effectiveness of your tactic (usually no more than two bad statements).

 

Average (2): Your writing has major issues with clarity, including multiple unclear, confusing or redundant statements that reduce the effectiveness of your tactic.

 

Needs Improvement (1): Unintelligible writing or incoherent writing.

 

Facts and Attributions

 

Excellent (4): Your facts were correct, including proper names, and your attributions were correct.

 

Good (3): You had minor issues with your attributions (no more than two errors), but your facts were correct, including proper names.

 

Average (2): You had at least one fact error, including mistakes with proper names, and/or you have more than two issues with attributions.

 

Needs Improvement (1): You had more than one fact error, including mistakes with proper names, and/or you have consistently repeated issues with attributions.

 

Style and Mechanics

 

Excellent (4): You have no more than two grammar, spelling and punctuation (GSP) or AP style errors.

 

Good (3): You have 3-4 GSP or AP style errors.

 

Average (2): You have 5-6 GSP or AP style errors.

 

Needs Improvement (1): You have more than six GSP or AP style errors.

 

 

 

CLASS SCHEDULE

 

*Readings are from PR Style Guide unless noted otherwise.

*All assignments are due before midnight unless noted otherwise.

 

January 14th, Thursday

 

Day’s Objective: Buy your books. Review the syllabus.

Note: Strategic Communication Objective #1 is due a week from today, Jan. 21st.

 

  • Overview of PR Writing.

  • Defining “good” writing, and its importance in PR.

  • Writing workout / Writing tune-up: Grammar & Punctuation.

  • Reading: “Preface” in PR style guide.

  • Reading: AP Stylebook, “A Guide to Punctuation”.

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

January 19th, Tuesday

 

Day’s Objective: Refer to instructions at the top of this page.

 

  • Writing tune-up: AP Style. Writing prompt (300 words): "What are PR tactics"?

  • Go over p. 112-119, PR Style Guide.

  • Pick up your AP Stylebook and review it, especially for new changes!

  • Strategic Communication Plan: Overview.

  • Module 1 overview (due before midnight on Tues., Jan. 26th).

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

January 21st, Thursday

 

Day’s Objective: Strategic Communication Deadline 1 (due before midnight TODAY).

Looking ahead: Prepare for Module 1 due date on Tues., Jan. 26th (due before midnight).

 

In class ...

  • Writing tune-up: peer editing.

  • Reading overview: PR Style Guide, p. 232-235.

  • Resume Module 1 work.

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

January 26th, Tuesday

 

Module 1 due today before midnight. Day’s Objective: Review Strategic Communication feedback. Reading chapter 9 in PR Style Guide.

 

In class ...

  • Situation analysis and campaign: overview

  • Overview of social media for PR.

  • Research for blog topics.

  • Reading overview.

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

January 28th, Thursday

 

Begin working on module assignment 2 (due on Feb. 4th).

 

In class ...

  • Writing workshop: blogs, copy editing, and internal organizational PR.

  • Wix and Weebly demonstration.

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

February 2nd, Tuesday

 

Day’s Objective:  Bring a business brief news release template.

 

In class ...

  • Writing workshop: business brief news release

  • Select a Wix or Weebly template (consider having a backup)

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

February 4th, Thursday

 

Day’s Objective: Prepare for Strategic Communication Deadline 2 coming up on Tuesday, Feb. 9th (peer feedback is due then as well).

 

In class ...

  • Strategic Communication Plan work session: Deadline 2.

  • Begin planning for Module 2: due Thursday, February 11th.

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

February 9th, Tuesday

 

Due today before midnight: Strategic Communication Deadline 2: Situation Analysis and Campaign Focus (peer feedback is due as well). Module 2 is due this Thursday, February 11th before midnight.

 

In class ...

  • Engaging the job market.

  • Peer editing: writing exercise.

  • Overview of module assignment 2.

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

February 11th, Thursday

 

Module 2 due today before midnight.

 

In class ...

  • Select an editor for the next three class sessions.

  • APA citation style overview.

  • Finish module assignment 2.

  • Strategic Communication Plan, Deadline 3: Campaign Plan and Revised Situation Analysis/Campaign Focus (due next Thursday, Feb. 18th before midnight).

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

February 16th, Tuesday (class will be held online)

 

Class will be held online: Prepare for Strategic Communication Plan, Deadline 3 this Thursday, Feb. 18th before midnight.

 

In class ...  

 

  • Q&A and overview of Strategic Communication Plan, Deadline 3

  • PR applications lecture.

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

February 18th, Thursday

 

Due TODAY before midnight: Strategic Communication Plan, Deadline 3: Campaign Plan and Revised Situation Analysis/Campaign Focus.  

 

In class ...

  • Work on your second blog draft and get it peer-edited. Editors will be graded.

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

February 23rd, Tuesday

 

In class ...

  • Peer editing.

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

February 25th, Thursday

 

Module 3 due next Thursday, March 3rd before midnight.

 

In class ...

  • Module assignment 3 overview (due March 3rd before midnight).

  • Week’s reading rigor: important to regiment / plan to complete.

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

March 1st, Tuesday

 

Day’s Objective: Read chapters 2,3 and 6 in PR style Guide. Individual branding assignment due in class: Locate a job ad for a position you would apply for right after college. You may choose to identify and target more than one position/job.

 

In class ...

  • Reading overview.

  • The merger of business and PR group assignment.

  • Tactical development: Appendix A in PR Style Guide

  • Module 3 overview, due Thursday.

  • Individual branding assignment due Thursday: Provide early draft of a résumé, provide a model copy of a professional cover letter, and create a spreadsheet of all social media [links, usernames and passwords (don’t show anyone, including your instructor, your passwords)]. Remember, hide your passwords before turning in this assignment.

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

March 3rd, Thursday

 

Day’s Objective: Read chapters, 9, 10 in PR Style Guide. Module 3 due before midnight. Individual Branding: Due today in class: Provide early draft of a résumé, provide a model copy of a professional cover letter, and create a spreadsheet of all social media [links, usernames and passwords (don’t show anyone, including your instructor, your passwords)]. Remember, hide your passwords before turning in this assignment.

 

In class ...

  • Reading overview.

  • The merger of business and PR group assignment.

  • Strategic Communication overview for deadline 3 (March 30th).

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

March 8th, Tuesday

 

Day’s Objective: Read chapters 11, 13 in PR style Guide. Due today in class: Take headshot photo and complete LinkedIn page.

 

In class ...

  • Deadline trajectory for Online Branding / Individual PR final submission.

  • The merger of business and PR group assignment (due March 22nd by class time for peer editing).

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

March 10th, Friday

 

Day’s Objective: Review Appendix A and read Appendix B in PR Style Guide. Due today in class: Self-narrative is due. Your self-narrative should have three parts: (1) an extended 3-5 paragraph professional biography or narrative that targets decision-makers associated with your target job; (2) a one paragraph professional biography or narrative that meets the aforementioned criteria; and (3) a two sentence professional biographic "snip it".

 

In class ...

  • Guest lecture on the convergence of PR, marketing and advertising: the importance of effective writing.

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

March 22nd, Tuesday

 

Day’s Objectives: Must have "Merger of Business and PR" assignments completed by class. Strategic Communication Deadline 3 and 4 continuation. Due today in class: Provide template of your personal site. Your personal site should already have edits and initial markups.

 

In class ...

  • Peer editing of, "Merger of Business and PR," group assignments.

  • Be prepared to turn in Online Branding / Individual PR by April 14th before midnight.

  • PR industry insight.

  • Strategic Communication group presentation planning (recommend visiting speaking studio).

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

March 24th, Thursday

 

Day’s Objectives: Strategic Communication Plan 3 due next Thursday, March 31st before midnight.

 

In class ...

  • Group Strategic Communication Plan Deadline 3, March 31st before midnight.

  • Writing Exercise

 

__________________________________________________________________________


 

March 29th, Tuesday

 

Day's Objectives" Set up speaking studio sessions for late April. Due today in class: First draft of personal sites.

 

In class ...

  • Group Strategic Communication Plan Deadline 3 due this Thursday

  • Action plan for the next stage of PR learning.

 

__________________________________________________________________________


 

March 31st, Thursday

 

Day's Objectives: Strategic Communication Plan Deadline 3 (submit before midnight). Online branding / individual PR submissions due April 14th.

 

In class ...

  • Group Strategic Communication Plan Deadline 4 due april 7th

  • Action plan for the next stage of PR learning.

  • Writing exercise.

 

__________________________________________________________________________


 

April 5th, Tuesday

 

Day's Objectives: Strategic Communication Plan Deadline 4 (due Thursday before midnight). Online branding / individual PR submissions due April 14th.

 

In class ...

  • Group Strategic Communication Plan Deadline 4 due april 7th

  • Action plan for the next stage of PR learning.

  • Writing exercise.

 

__________________________________________________________________________


 

April 7th, Thursday

 

Day's Objectives: Strategic Communication Plan Deadline 4 (due today before midnight). Online branding / individual PR submissions due April 14th.

 

In class ...

  • Group Strategic Communication Plan Deadline 4 due april 7th

  • Action plan for the next stage of PR learning.

  • Writing exercise.

  • Peer editing.

 

__________________________________________________________________________


 

April 12th, Tuesday

 

Day's Objectives: Online branding / individual PR submissions due April 14th before midnight.

 

In class ...

  • Action plan for the next stage of PR learning (APR course curriculum).

  • Writing exercise.

  • Peer editing.

 

__________________________________________________________________________


 

April 14th, Thursday

 

Day's Objectives: Guest lecture on press release functionality, business news briefs, and copy editing. Online branding / individual PR submissions due today before midnight. Prepare for presentations over the next four class periods.

 

In class ...

  • Guest lecture.

 

__________________________________________________________________________


 

April 19th, Tuesday

 

Day's Objectives: Presentations Day 1.

 

In class ...

  • Strategic Communication Plan Presentations.

  • Writing exercise.

 

__________________________________________________________________________


 

April 21st, Thursday

 

Day's Objectives: Presentations Day 2.

 

In class ...

  • Strategic Communication Plan Presentations.

  • Writing exercise.

 

__________________________________________________________________________


 

April 26th, Tuesday

 

Day's Objectives: Presentations Day 3.

 

In class ...

  • Strategic Communication Plan Presentations.

  • Writing exercise.

 

__________________________________________________________________________


 

April 28th, Thursday

 

Day's Objectives: Presentations Day 4.

 

In class ...

  • Strategic Communication Plan Presentations.

  • Writing exercise.