Spring 2008


: CP-650-29 Phone: 657-278-7008
E-mail: dwitmer@fullerton.edu
Office Hours
: MW 11-noon, M 4-5 p.m, & Online
Professor's Web site: http://commfaculty.fullerton.edu/dwitmer/





Analysis of systems and strategies for planning public relations campaigns and solving/preventing problems. Individual, team case studies, in corporate development of proposals; actual use of tools in addition to role playing presentations to management.



This course is a capstone experience for communications majors who have chosen a concentration in public relations. It offers you an opportunity to apply theory to practice, and to develop an understanding of public relations as a management function. In this course, you will learn through community service activities. Service learning provides both experiential understanding of public relations and ways in which you can make meaningful contributions to the ethnically and culturally diverse communities in which you live and work.



After successful completion of COMM 464, you should be able to:

·         use analytical and research strategies to develop a public relations campaign as assessed through a public relations proposal and completion of a semester project for a nonprofit "client."

·         utilize basic processes, tools and techniques of public relations planning as assessed through a written examination, a public relations proposal, and completion of a semester project for a nonprofit "client."

·         apply appropriate management strategies to execute a public relations campaign as assessed through a written examination and a semester project for a nonprofit "client."

·         draw on a variety of measurement and evaluation strategies to assess the effectiveness of a public relations campaign as assessed through a written examination, a public relations proposal, and completion of a semester project for a nonprofit "client."

·         recognize and strive for excellence in the ethical practice of public relations as assessed through a public relations proposal, and completion of a semester project for a nonprofit "client."

·         Recognize the value and impact of personal and professional engagement in community service as assessed through written reflections.



COMM 361, COMM 362, and Junior standing.




We will work with one primary text and the course Web site:


·         Smith, R. (2004). Strategic Planning for Public Relations. (2nd Ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
ISBN 0-8058-5239-5

·         The COMM 464 course Web site through your Student Portal at http://my.fullerton.edu/.

Additional readings may be assigned. You'll need to attend class consistently and take careful notes of all class activities, lectures, and discussions. You'll also be expected to keep up with local, national, and international current events as a matter of standard public relations practice.




You may earn a maximum of 1000 points during the semester. Final course grades are assigned as follows:




















Examination dates appear in the schedule at the end of this syllabus. There are no “make up” assignments or exams.


A Word About Grading: Grades are based upon quality of work expected of college students at the upper-division level. This means all oral and written work must meet certain standards, which are listed below.


For a grade of C, the work meets the average level of competence expected for upper-division college work. It will:

·         conform to the type of assignment and tasks assigned.

·         be ready on time, at the beginning of class.

·         meet the objectives of the assignment.

·         include all special elements of the assignment (e.g., outline, bibliography, memos, etc.).

·         demonstrate reasonable directness, competence, and public relations judgment.

·         be free of serious grammatical, punctuation, syntax, or word usage errors.

·         cite all words or ideas drawn from the work of others.


For a grade of B, the work meets the above average level of competence expected for upper-division college work. It will include all the qualities of "C-level" work, plus:

·         demonstrate originality and depth of thought.

·         include thorough and exhaustive research.

·         display clear organization and professional presentation.

·         incorporate clear, concise evaluation criteria.

·         demonstrate skillful presentation, avoiding distraction from conveyance of the message.

·         indicate efficient use of resources.


For a grade of A, the work meets an outstanding level of competence for upper-division college work. It will include all the qualities of "B- and C-level" work, plus:

·         constitute a true contribution to the knowledge or beliefs of the reader or audience.

·         sustain positive interest, feeling, and/or commitment in the reader or audience.

·         demonstrate vividness through the use of language.

·         demonstrate fluency and polish that strengthens the impact of the message.

·         provide a genuine service to the client or recipient.

·         be of professional-level written or oral presentation quality.


Below average work (Grade D or F) has major deficiencies, and does not meet upper-division level requirements.




You may earn points toward your final course grade by completing assignments, taking exams, and participating in classroom activities. Your final grade is based on a total of 1000 points. Each activity is worth a maximum number of points as follows:


Possible Points

Midterm Exam


Proposal Competition


Individual Portfolio


Article Review


Group Project


Individual Journals


Evaluations by Client, Instructor, & Peers (averaged)


Group Evaluation (averaged)



Graduate Students write an additional paper that explores theoretical implications of the group project.


Exam: The midterm exam is multiple choice, and you will need a Scantron Form 882-ES. Questions will cover materials from the text, class activities (including discussions, exercises, and lectures), and current events, whether they have been discussed in class or not. The exam will be designed to evaluate both your recall and your ability to apply course concepts to organizational settings.


Proposal Competition: This group assignment is a simulation of a "real world" public relations challenge. Your team will bid on a job for a client. You will get details about the client and the situation in class. Check the course Web site for a checklist of proposal components.


Just as only one proposing agency may win the job, only one team may earn an "A" on this assignment. Video monitors, computers loaded with PowerPoint & MS Word, and overhead projectors are available in the classroom for your presentations.


Individual Portfolio: You will have an opportunity to put together a portfolio that you can present to prospective employers. To do this, you'll need to gather materials that you have prepared for your other classes, PRSSA, or any other public relations activity. The portfolio should include a variety of materials, and the first page must be your up-to-date résumé. Make sure all materials are revised, and that each is accompanied with an explanation of why it was prepared, your specific role in its preparation, and any results you obtained with it (example: a news release that you wrote should be accompanied by resulting press clippings).


Scholarly Journal Article Review: You and a partner will have an opportunity to familiarize yourselves with the research literature in public relations by reviewing an article from a scholarly journal such as Public Relations Review or Journal of Public Relations Research. The article you choose should be approximately 15 pages long (no 2-page book reviews!), and address a significant aspect of public relations theory, practice, or education. You'll first select at least three possible articles, which you will bring to class for discussion and instructor approval (see the course schedule for due date). You will then work with your partner to write a report on the article. No two partnered teams can report on the same article, so be sure you have several. You will then prepare your paper and a formal presentation of two to five minutes, depending on time and number of presentations to be scheduled.


Group Project: This course involves intensive group work, so a portion of class time will be set aside for group meetings to discuss progress of your project and to plan the future course of your campaign. Some of these meetings appear on the syllabus. Other in-class group meetings will be added as needed.


For purposes of this class, your group will act as a public relations consulting firm, and you will work to meet the needs of a not-for-profit client that you choose. This means that throughout the semester, your group must act as a cohesive unit, and group activities produce a single Group Grade that is the same for each member.


Note: Your semester project client MUST be registered with the Center for Internships & Service-Learning (CISL), and you MUST register and complete a consent form with CISL. This is easily done online at http://www.fullerton.edu/cisl. Detailed information is available both in class and through CISL. (see attached handouts).


Your group grade is based upon:

·         The overall quality of the group project elements.

·         The written and oral group presentations of the project.

·         The efficiency, skill, and professionalism displayed in group interactions with the client and with me, as well as general group cohesiveness.

·         Other written and oral presentations to the class and/or client.

Note: Make at least three copies of all agency reports: One for the instructor, one for the client, and one for your group. I will retain all project notebooks.


Personal Journal on Group Project: You are expected to keep a personal, ongoing journal of all activities (both individual and group) that relate to your semester group project. This is similar to keeping track of billable hours in agency work, and will help you both reconstruct your activities for your final report and develop your evaluations of your team at the end of the semester. The journal therefore should include dates and times of your project-related activities, whether the hours spent were billable or non-billable, descriptions of the activities, and your thoughts about them. You'll turn your journal in five times during the semester, and each submission is worth 10 points toward your final course grade. Journals are always due at the beginning of class on the due date. If you forget your journal (even if you just leave it in your car), you will not earn any points for that submission.


Peer & Client Evaluations: One hundred points of your grade are based on your own and your client's evaluation of your team, each of your fellow team members, and yourself. Fifty points are based on individual evaluations, and fifty points are based on evaluations of your group as a whole. All information is drawn from a single questionnaire, which is completed online. The questionnaire will answer the following questions:

1.     What is the most important thing you have learned about public relations in this course?

2.     What is the most important thing you have learned about community service in this course?

3.     On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being best, how would you evaluate your own performance on the group project? Why? Justify your rating.

4.     On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being best, how would you evaluate the performance of each of the other members of your team? Why? List each group member by name. For each group member, provide your rating and a justification for your rating.

5.     On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being best, how would you evaluate your team as a whole? Why? Justify your rating.

Hint: Be honest about your own performance and that of others. Be sure to support your evaluations with SPECIFIC information and examples.




You have a right to accommodations for documented special needs via the Disabled Student Service Office, UH 101, (657) 278-3117 or as documented at www.fullerton.edu/disabledservices/




·         Regular attendance is expected and necessary in this class. Please do not assume that you do not need to attend class when only lab, student presentations, or guest speakers are scheduled. I expect you there, armed with all necessary books and materials, and readiness to discuss the topic at hand. It is to your advantage to attend all classes, since test material will be drawn from in-class discussions, exercises, and lab assignments. You will lose points for missing class during the last two weeks of class.

·         As a matter of courtesy and professionalism, turn off all beepers and cell phone during class time. Allowing your cell phone to ring during class is your request for me to answer it.

·         You are responsible for all notes, handouts, and assigned readings. If you must miss a class, it is up to you to get notes and materials from fellow students. Develop a buddy system and exchange phone numbers!

·         You must type and double space all work, unless you receive other instructions.

·         You must turn in all assignments on time, at the beginning of class. No late assignments are accepted. Only severe medical problems are acceptable reasons for missing exams or assignments, and it is your responsibility to make immediate arrangements with me for make-up work. Computer problems and crashed disks are not valid reasons for late work. If a medical emergency arises, you must notify me in advance of the class and provide verification in order to be excused and scheduled for make-up work.

·         See me immediately if you have any difficulties in this course. DO NOT wait a week or until the end of the semester to contact me with problems. I'm always happy to help you in any way I can, but any delay in communicating directly with me greatly reduces your chances of getting effective help.

·         You must complete all course activities to earn a minimum grade of "D."

·         You must earn a minimum of 600 points as described above to earn a minimum grade of "D."

·         Any proven case of academic dishonesty will result in immediate failure of the class and will be reported to the campus judicial officer. The following information is directly quoted from CSUF University Policy Statement 300.021:

Academic dishonesty includes such things as cheating, inventing false information or citations, plagiarism, and helping someone else commit an act of academic dishonesty. It usually involves an attempt by a student to show a possession of a level of knowledge or skill, which he/she in fact does not possess.

Cheating is defined as the act of obtaining or attempting to obtain credit for work by the use of any dishonest, deceptive, fraudulent, or unauthorized means. Examples of cheating include, but are not limited to, the following: using notes or aides or the help of other students on tests and examinations in ways other than those expressly permitted by the instructor, plagiarism as defined below, tampering with the grading procedures, and collaborating with others on any assignment where such collaboration is expressly forbidden by an instructor. Violation of this prohibition of collaboration shall be deemed an offense for the person or persons collaborating on the work, in addition to the person submitting the work.

Plagiarism is defined as the act of taking the work of another and offering it as one’s own without giving credit to that source. When sources are used in a paper, acknowledgment of the original author or source must be made through appropriate references and, if directly quoted, quotation marks or indentations must be used.

In this course, plagiarism includes but is not limited to: borrowing another person's ideas without acknowledgment; using paraphrased material without attribution; not citing quoted material; copying from any source and presenting the work as your own; downloading and using as your own any phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or entire documents from the Internet  (including source code, scripts, graphics, or other Web elements); using anyone else's assistance (other than the instructor or a lab assistant) to fulfill course requirements.

·         In this course, you will have to juggle multiple tasks and assignments. Handling several major assignments at once, as well as your job, family, and personal demands, is an important part of learning the "real world" challenges of practicing public relations.

·         In business and professional life, we often must complete assignments based on quick verbal instructions. Thus, in this course, you should expect to listen carefully and rely on your own notes rather than on detailed handouts.

·         Working in Groups:

·         Working in teams is essential in public relations, and much of this course is based on group work. You don't have to like everyone in your group, but you do have to work effectively with them.

·         Each group is expected to resolve challenges of interpersonal relationships or workload distribution. If you ask me for guidance, I'll be happy to offer it, but I will not resolve team conflicts for you.

·         Occasionally, a problem arises where one team member fails to contribute to the team project. Should this happen in your group, you should make every effort to resolve the problem and document your efforts in writing, with a copy to me. If all efforts to resolve the conflict fail, you may, as a team, discharge any member. The discharged team member will receive no credit for the team assignment, which will result in the individual failing the course. Here are the steps you must take, in the event your team agrees a member's performance is unsatisfactory :

1.     Try to work out the difficulty as a team. Sometimes, an individual needs simply needs additional guidance and direction.

2.     Counsel and discuss the situation with the individual at least three times.

3.     Document all efforts to correct the problem.

4.     Give the individual a letter of warning, which is signed by all team members with a copy to me.

5.     If the letter of warning does not result in satisfactory performance, you may terminate the individual.

6.     The termination must be reported to me in a letter that:

·         is signed and dated by all remaining team members,

·         documents both the problem and how you tried to correct it, and

·         describes in detail how the team will distribute the remaining workload.

Note: If your team decides to fire a member, you must do it before the last two weeks of classes.


The very best way to reach me is by e-mail. Don't forget that if you have any questions, I'm only a "Send Button" away!



Read the assigned book sections prior to each class meeting. Additional assignments will be announced.




Assignments Due


Jan 21

Jan 23

Martin Luther King Jr. Day





Jan 30


Team Formation Exercises

Text Introduction

Creative Résumés


Feb 4

Feb 6

Teams Formed

Preparing Proposals & Presentations

Three Potential Clients

Team Name & Mission


Feb 11

Feb 13

Phase I: Formative Research


Text Phase I

Client Letter of Agreement
Journal #1


Feb 18

Feb 20

Presidents’ Day

Group Projects



Feb 25

Feb 27

Client Presentation Competition

Client Presentation Competition




Mar 3

Mar 5

Phase II: Strategy

Group Projects

Text Phase II

Semester PR Plan
Journal #2


Mar 10

Mar 11

Phase III: Tactics

Group Projects

Text Phase III

Journal #3


Mar 17

Mar 19

Phase IV: Evaluative Research

Group Projects

Text Phase IV
THREE Journal Articles



Mar 24

Mar 26

Midterm Exam

Group Projects

Exam on Smith (all chapters) & all lectures


Mar 31-Apr 6

Spring Break



Apr 7

Apr 9

Journal Article Presentations

Journal Article Presentations

Article Review Paper

Journal #4


Apr 14

Apr 16

Writing the Final Report

Group Projects

Journal #5

Optional Group Notebook Draft


Apr 21

Apr 23

Special Guest Speaker

Group Projects




Apr 28

Apr 30

Group Projects

Group Presentations

Group Notebook (3 copies)
Client Evaluations
Peer Evaluations


May 5

May 7

Group Presentations

Group Presentations & Wrap-Up


May 12 (Mon)

May 14 (Wed)

2:30-4:20 Mandatory Meeting with Dr. Witmer (MW 1:00 Section)

2:30-4:20 Mandatory Meeting with Dr. Witmer (MW 2:30 Section)

Teams Meet in CP-650-29

Teams Meet in CP-650-29