Marketing Communication Department
COURSE OBJECTIVES AND SYLLABUS
Instructor: Alton Miller
Course number 54-1701 (old style: 54-1860)
Course Description: This course qualifies as a
writing intensive course. It covers all forms of writing for
public relations, including magazine queries, securing television
and radio interviews, coverage memos, media alerts, news releases,
features, trade presses, and public relations presentations.
Prerequisite: 54-1700 Introduction to Public Relations.
Course Objective: The course
emphasizes the strategy of crafting and delivering a PR message --
not just getting in ink or on the air -- with special emphasis on
pre-writing, preparation and editing. Students learn to develop a
"Message Planner" as a
platform on which all PR writing and strategy can be based.
Class Information: There are three sections of this
course: two in-classroom and one online. Typically these classes
number about 15; in the summer classes are usually smaller. For
the fall and spring terms, each in-class section meets once a
week, at 624 S. Michigan, 8th floor, in Room 803 on Wednesday
mornings, 9:00-11:50 p.m., and in Room 805 on Wednesday evenings,
5:30-8:20 p.m. Online section students are required to login
for course information twice weekly:
new material is posted every Tuesday and Friday.
Class Requirements: Over the course of the term
students will write 10-15 releases, PSAs, and other short PR
writings, which with their final revisions comprise a final
project -- a portfolio due at the end of the term. The required
text is Public Relations Writing Form and Style (Sixth
Edition) by Doug Newsom and Bob Carrell. A second text requirement
is to read at least one Chicago newspaper daily. Students are
required to bring the current day's issue of a local newspaper to
each class session.
Class Policies: Short quizzes are used to review
discussion and readings. In the fall and spring terms there are
both a midterm and a final exam; in the summer term, just a final
exam. Grades will depend approximately 1/3 on attendance and the
quizzes, 1/3 on the exam(s), and 1/3 on the final project. Also,
check out how I grade a press release
. Students should always keep copies of all written work,
as some assignments will not be returned.
Attendance: Attendance is especially important,
and final grades will suffer from missing more than one class,
habitual tardiness, or falling behind the class schedule. Makeup
work will be required for all absences, and assignments are due on
schedule, regardless of the reason for the absence. Students are
urged to share information -- by phone, or online at the Student Conference Room .
Abbreviated class schedule outline (subject to
change) -- this is the syllabus for both in-class and
online students. In addition to the subject of focus of each
session, many classes will include writing exercises designed to
make you a fast, effective writer of press releases.
Class One: Press Release Basics
The basics of PR writing -- the journalistic 5 W's...
analyzing the elements of a news story... the role of the
editor... For next week, read Chapter 1.
Class Two: How to Plan your
The news angle, the message... the press release and
media alert format... using a message planner... the use of direct
quotes... For next week, read Chapter 5.
Class Three: Different Types of Release
Press releases for arts events and other
activities... the relationship of the press release to the press
kit, and the press conference... different types of press release.
For next week, read Chapter 12.
Class Four: Developing a
More Powerful Message
Creativity and focus, framing and targeting... putting words and
visual concepts together to pack a wallop. For next week, read
Class Five: Research and
Fact-finding, newsgathering, organizing your information...
essentials for interviews... research tools. For next week, read
Class Six: Press Release
Different ways to diversify your style and make your
copy more compelling.... different types of press release lead.
For next week, read Chapter 14.
Class Seven: PR Writing and
How public relations professionals are using the
Internet... Web-based challenges and opportunities... writing for
Web sites. For next week, read Chapter 6.
Class Eight: Midterm Exam
Multiple choice test and a writing exercise. In-class
students will be given a total of two hours to complete the exam.
Online midterm may be administered online (by appointment) or in
the Marketing Communication Department (student's choice) --
either way, the exam time will be limited to two hours. For next
week, read Chapter 10.
Class Nine: Broadcast Release & PSA
Four principal vehicles for broadcast publicity...
differences in writing for the ear vs. the eye... basic principles
of writing for the ear, and formats for the broadcast release &
PSA. For next week, read Chapter 11.
Class Ten: Video News Releases
and Radio Actualities
VNRs, filmscripts, presentations, visual
treatments... how do news outlets use your PR submissions.. new
technologies in PR. For next week, read Chapter 2.
Class Eleven: The Art of the
Memos, pitch letters and confirmation letters...
"scripting" the interview... how to meet the media. For next week,
read Chapters 17 and 18.
Class Twelve: Newsletters,
Brochures and Advertising
Advertising for the PR professional... developing a
concept and a visual... developing newsletter and brochure
applications... stages of creativity. For next week, read Chapter
Class Thirteen: Speeches and
Types of speeches... the mechanics of organization... making
brief remarks, presentations, formal speeches. For next week, read
Class Fourteen: Public
Relations Campaign Design
Developing the outline of a PR campaign and communicating your
ideas to different publics... different types of media kit. For
next week, re-read Chapter 6.
Class Fifteen: Final
Multiple choice test and a writing exercise. Both
in-class and online students will take the class in the classroom.
Students will be given a total of two hours to complete the exam.
Part of your assignment for
Class 2 is a brief biographical outline
(one page is enough) organized into three topics:
your family background...
where you grew
where you went to school...
family life, etc., up through high
II. Current life
your college education...
interests in the past four
years or so...
up to the present...
III. Spring 2011
put yourself a decade in the
write about what you did...
you accomplished, in the decade 2001-2011...
be realistic, whatever that
means to you...