Course Syllabus

Communications 468
Corporate & Nonprofit Public Relations
Fall 1997

Dr. Diane F. Witmer, APR
Office Hours: MW 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
MW 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
T 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

             Course Goals and Objectives:
             Corporate and Nonprofit Public Relations is an advanced class 
             that is designed to help you develop an understanding of public 
             relations in a variety of contexts.  Through the use of case 
             studies and a consulting project, this course provides you with 
             an opportunity to gain hands-on public relations experience 
             that will prepare you for professional practice.
             Learning Outcomes: 
             This course will help you learn the critical thinking processes 
             involved in solving organizational problems and making public 
             relations decisions.  You will have an opportunity to explore 
             some of the cutting edge issues facing public relations 
             practitioners in today's increasingly technological and global 
             By the end of this course, you should be able to:
             *  identify key public relations issues in corporate and 
                not-for-profit organizations.
             *  utilize basic strategies and tactics of public relations.
             *  identify and analyze organizational problem from a public 
                relations perspective.
             *  compare and contrast public relations in corporations and in 
                not-for-profit organizations.
             *  develop a public relations campaign or research project for 
                a corporate or not-for-profit entity.
             Successful completion of the objectives listed above will 
             enable you to:
             *  challenge and re-evaluate commonly held perceptions of the 
                role and function of public relations in corporations and 
                not-for-profit organizations.
             *  produce high-quality work under the pressure of deadlines.
             *  evaluate the effectiveness of your work.
             *  think critically about public relations problems and how to 
                solve them.
             Texts and Study Materials:  
             Goldman, J. (1984). Public relations in the marketing mix. 
             Lincolnwood, IL: NTC Publishing Group. 
             Howard, C. M., & Mathews, W. K. (1985).  On deadline: Managing 
             media relations. Prospect Heights, IL:  Waveland Press, Inc.
             Pincus, J. D., & DeBonis, J. N. (1994). Top Dog. New York: 
             Daily study of radio or television newscasts and one major 
             daily newspaper (e.g., The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, or 
             Wall Street Journal).  
             Regular attendance and careful notes from class activities, 
             lecture, and discussion.
             Additional readings and assignments as announced in class.
             You may earn a maximum of 100 points during the semester (this 
             conveniently works out to 100 percent of your grade).  Final 
             course grades are assigned as follows:  
                 90 - 100 points  =  A           60 - 69 points  =  D
                 80 -  89 points  =  B            0 - 59 points  =  F
                 70 -  79 points  =  C
             If your final grade is between two point values, I will round 
             "X .4" down, and "X.5" up.  In other words, a 79.4 is 79, or a 
             C+, but a 79.6 is rounded to 80, which is a B-. If you want to 
             play on the safe side, you can boost your grade by earning some 
             extra points as described in the "Additional Activities" 
             section of this syllabus.
             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 and competence. 
             *  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 (including financial).
             For a grade of A, the work meets an excellent 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 
             Below average work (Grade D or F) has major deficiencies, which 
             do not meet upper-division level requirements.
             Overall Course Grade:  Your overall course grade is based on 
             your performance in the following class activities:
             Course Activities:
             You may earn points toward your final course grade by 
             completing assignments and participating in class activities.  
             Each activity is worth a maximum number of points as follows:
             Group Grades:
                Proposal, Contract, & Presentation        20 points
                Final Agency Report & Presentation        30 points
             Grade with Partner:
                Case Study Analysis                       30 points
             Individual Grades:
                Final Individual Report on Agency Project 10 points
                Individual Performance on Agency Project  10 points
             TOTAL                                       100 points
             Group Activities (50 points): 
             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 be a public 
             relations consulting firm, and you will work to meet the 
             special needs of a corporate or not-for-profit client.  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.  The Group Grade is 
             based upon:
             The overall quality of the group project elements.
             *  The written and oral group presentations of the proposal and 
                final reports.
             *  The efficiency, skill, and professionalism displayed by the 
                group in interactions with the client, the group executive 
                director, each other and me, and general group cohesiveness.
             *  Other written and oral presentations to the class and/or 
             NOTE: You'll need to provide a copy of your agency materials to 
             both the instructor and the client, as well as retain a copy 
             for your group.
             Proposal & Contract (20 points):
                Information and examples for these materials will be 
                available in a course packet.
             Final Group Report (30 points):
                This is the matching "bookend" to the proposal.  It reports 
                what work you accomplished and evaluates your agency's 
                efforts.  To do this, you will compare your proposed goals, 
                objectives, timelines, and budgets to those you actually 
                accomplished.  To organize the final report, use the TTT 
                model (tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, 
                then tell them what you told them):
                *  Previews of the rest of the report; recaps problem and 
                   summarizes conclusions.
                *  Overview of group activities
                *  Reports your progress: goals, objectives, what you 
                   accomplished, what you didn't accomplish 
                *  Summarizes for the client how the extent to which goals 
                   and objectives were or were not achieved. 
                Problems and Solutions
                *  Elucidates the original problem, the organizational 
                   goals, your corresponding goals, and the objectives. 
                *  Provides an up-to-date report on the current status of 
                   the problem, goals, and objectives, emphasizing the 
                   agency's work. 
                Project Management
                *  Summarizes how the project was managed.
                *  Outlines the agency members' division of labor
                *  Reports the final budget: Specific expenditures and how 
                   they compared with the budget
                *  Outlines the final schedule as milestones actually were 
                   accomplished; describes and how closely the agency met 
                   its original timeline and explains reasons for changes in 
                *  Describes and discusses campaign successes and problems, 
                   including what worked exceptionally well, what didn't, 
                   how similar problems might be avoided in the future. 
                *  Answers the question of what lessons the agency and the 
                   client can learn from this experience--which is the 
                   question all practitioners ask themselves upon completing 
                   a program.
                *  Offers the client recommendations for future public 
                   relations programs.
                *  Includes samples of all the work you completed, including 
                   fliers, brochures, PSAs, news releases, etc. 
                *  Includes samples of the results of your work, including 
                   press clippings, internal reports, memos from the client, 
                *  Use journals to reconstruct group activities. Get 
                   feedback from the instructor before presenting your final 
                   report to the client.  Turn in an early draft so you can 
                   revise before submitting to client. Make at least two 
                   copies of all agency reports: One for the instructor and 
                   one for the client. Also be sure to keep a copy for 
             Teamwork is an essential element of public relations.  I will 
             provide guidance, but part of the learning experience in this 
             course is that of resolving within your group any problems that 
             arise. After group negotiations and a group meeting with me, a 
             group can, by unanimous vote, dismiss a team member for poor or 
             non-performance.  If a group member is dismissed, his/her grade 
             for the group project will be a zero. 
             Individual Grades on Group Project (20 points):  
             Individual Performance on Group Project (10 points):  Your 
             Individual Group Project Grade is part of your overall course 
             grade, and is based upon:
             *  Your individual participation as a group member, which is 
                defined as your readiness to share in group 
                responsibilities, your cooperation with other group members, 
                your willingness to "pitch in" and help with group tasks, 
                and your ability to do things when and where you promise to 
                do them.  If you fail to perform and are dismissed from your 
                team, you will receive a zero on this project.
             *  Your efficiency, skill, and professionalism in performing 
                your assigned consulting role, including class and client 
                oral or written presentations.
             *  Your performance in completing 6 weekly journal reports.  
                These reports should be no more than one or two pages, type 
                and double spaced.  You will use them to keep a record of 
                your group's progress, any obstacles you encounter, specific 
                tasks assigned and completed, and your general observations 
                of the public relations process as it relates to your client 
                and your group.
             *  Your performance in completing all project-related 
                individual reports and tasks.
             *  On-time completion of your resuṃ.  This should follow a 
                standard resuṃ format, and should be approximately one 
                page.  Minimum components of the resuṃ include:
                *  Education.
                *  Relevant experience (do not include high school related 
                *  Honors and awards.
                *  Professional affiliations (Examples: Public Relations 
                   Student Society of America or student sections of Women 
                   in Communications, International Association of Business 
                   Communicators, etc. are appropriate to list.).
             Final Individual Report on Group Project (10 points):
             This report should be no more than two pages, typed and double-
             spaced, and answer the following questions:
             *  What is the most important thing that you learned about 
                public relations and agency work in this course?
             *  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.
             *  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.
             *  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.
             Grade with Partner (30 points)--Case Study Analysis:
             We will discuss crisis communications, and analyzing several 
             cases in this class.  This assignment involves working with a 
             partner to investigate and offer a solution to a public 
             relations problem that you select.  The primary criterion for 
             selecting the case study is that it must present a challenge to 
             a real person or organization from a public relations 
             perspective.  Your case should be relatively current.  (Please 
             don't choose the Johnson & Johnson Tylenol case, which has been 
             done to death!)  
             Once you've determined the case you'd like to analyze, you will 
             prepare a typed paper (including citations and a bibliography 
             that indicates the sources you've used to support your ideas).  
             You also will deliver a formal, polished, 15-20-minute class 
             The Paper
             Your paper and oral presentation should answer the questions 
             that appear below.  Be sure to support your arguments with 
             excerpts and/or paraphrases from published sources.  Be sure to 
             cite your sources properly in the text of your paper and in an 
             alphabetical list of references.
             Fact Summary
             *  What is the background of the person or organization?
             *  What are the past public relations activities of the person 
                or organization?
             *  What are the past public relations successes or failures of 
                the person or organization?
             *  Who are the relevant publics for this person or 
             *  What is the nature of the relationship that currently exists 
                between the entity you chose and its publics?
             Problem Identification
             *  What is the issue at hand?
             *  How did the issue arise?
             *  Who are the salient publics for this issue?
             *  What was the person or organization/s overall goal for the 
                problem it faced?
             Proposed Activities
             *  What public relations goals might help the person or 
                organization attain its overall goal?
             *  What activities or means would you propose for attaining 
                this goal?  (Hint:  Look for incongruence between goals and 
                the existing campaign.)
             *  How different is your proposal from the person's or 
                organization's actual activities?
             *  How practically feasible is your proposal?  Consider such 
                things as money, logistics, personnel, time, and other 
                resources in assessing the practicality of your 
             *  Provide some sample messages that may help the organization 
                publicize the strategies you have suggested in your 
             *  Provide some sample illustrations for the strategies you 
                have proposed.
             *  How will the success or failure of your proposed activities 
                be measured?
             The Presentation
             You and your partner should each present half of your analysis 
             in class.  You will be graded individually, but your personal 
             presentation should constitute part of a unified whole, so it 
             should be rehearsed and polished.  I encourage you to use 
             illustrations or visual aids for your presentation, although it 
             certainly isn't mandatory.  Be sure to dress appropriately.
             Your first order of business will be the selection of a partner 
             and several possible cases that you both think are appropriate.  
             I will set aside class time for you and your partner to discuss 
             your case with me and get approval on the case you select.  
             Select your case as early as possible so you will have time to 
             gather enough information for your case study analysis.  As 
             always, you can consult with me at any time for guidance on the 
             project.  I also have a few examples of cases from past 
             classes, which you are welcome to review.
             Additional Activities:
             You have an opportunity to earn up to 5 extra points toward 
             your final grade by putting forth some extra effort as follows:
             Your Photograph (2 points):
             I'd like to get to know you and to remember your name.  You can 
             help me speed up the process by providing me with a photograph 
             of yourself with your name (the first name should be the one 
             you prefer I use in class) neatly printed on the front.  A 
             clear photocopy of your student ID card with personal 
             information blocked out will do.  Please keep it snapshot size.
             For credit, this is due Tuesday, September 2.
             Public Relations Event (3 points):  
             You have a number of opportunities to attend public relations 
             events during the semester.  Keep your eyes open for 
             professional chapter PRSA, IABC, or WIC events (including 
             luncheons and meetings), department-sponsored events, and 
             student PRSSA or IABC meetings.  Check with me in advance for 
             approval on other PR-related activities.  Be sure to submit to 
             me proof of your attendance in the form of a one-page, written 
             report and documentation of your attendance (a program, 
             receipt, verification signed by an officer, or similar 
             For credit, documentation of all events is due Tuesday, November 18.
             This course emphasizes the ethical practice of public 
             relations, which is based on personal integrity.  Any proven 
             case of plagiarism or violation of university standards of 
             conduct will result in immediate failure of the class.  
             If I find that attendance falls when a guest speaker is 
             scheduled to visit the class, I will be forced to cancel any 
             further guest visits for the semester.
             Tentative Schedule
             This is a preliminary schedule.  It is almost certain to change, so please 
             be sure to stay current on reassigned due dates and activities!
             Assignments must be completed prior to each scheduled class meeting.  
             Additional assignments may be announced.  Italicized assignments due indicate 
             optional extra credit work.  
             G   = Goldman text
             H&M = Howard & Mathews text
             P&D = Pincus & DeBonis
             Number     Date         Topic                          Assignment
             1          Aug 26       Intro & Overview
             2          Sep 2        Individual meetings &          Resume
                                     Agency formation               G, 1-2
                                                                    H&M 1-2
             3          Sep 9        Writing proposals &            
                                     contracts                      H&M 3-4
             4          Sep 16       Working in teams               G 3-4
                                                                    Proposal draft
             5          Sep 23       Working with the media         H&M 5-6
                                                                    Final proposal &
             6          Sep 30       Working with the media         H&M 7
                                                                    Agency contract
             7          Oct 7        Video case studies 
             8          Oct 14       Tools                          H&M 8-11
             9          Oct 21       Marketing & public relations   G 8-10
             10         Oct 28       Tools (con't)                  G 11-12
             11         Nov 4        Case studies                   P&D Part I
             12         Nov 11       Agency                         P&D Part II
             13         Nov 18       Case study presentations       PR Event
                                                                    Case study report
             14         Nov 25       Thanksgiving Vacation          NO CLASS
             15         Dec 2        Agency                         P&D Part III
             16         Dec 9        Agency Presentations           P&D Part IV
                                                                    Group report
                                                                    Individual report
                        Dec 15-20    FINALS WEEK

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September 20, 1997.