PUBLIC RELATIONS WRITING
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Marketing Communication Department - Instructor: Alton Miller
COURSE OBJECTIVES AND SYLLABUS
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: 54-1800 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 "Direction Sheet" as a platform on which all PR writing and strategy can be based.
Class Information: Normally I teach two classes in this subject. This summer (June 14-July 14) just one class is scheduled to meet twice weekly, on Mondays & Wednesdays, 1:00- 5:00pm. In the fall and spring terms, each class meets once a week: one class on Tuesday, 5:30-8:20pm, and the other class on Wednesday, 9:00-11:50am. All classes meet at 624 S. Michigan, 8th floor. Typically these classes number about 15.
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 Handbook for PR Writing (Third Edition) by Thomas Bivins. 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 assignments often will not be returned.
Attendance: Attendance is important, and final grades
will suffer from habitual tardiness. Makeup work will be required
for absences, whether or not they are excused.
ABBREVIATED CLASS SCHEDULE OUTLINE
Class 1 - Introductions
Class 2 - Press Release Development
Press release planning... The use of direct quotes.
Class 3 - Press Release Improvement
Types of press release... press release classroom exercise ("Evita"). Check the assignment link for homework assignment.
Class 4 - Product Releases, Backgrounders
Types of leads for press releases... Focus on press releases to introduce products. Check the assignment link for homework assignment.
Class 5 - Planning Your Writing
Fact-finding, newsgathering, organizing your information Essentials for interviews; research tools... press release classroom exercise. Check the assignment link for homework assignment.
Class 6 - Perfecting the Press Release
Concentration on writing problems; editing your own work for content, layout, grammar, clarity, conciseness, style; press release classroom writing exercise. Check the assignment link for homework assignment.
Class 7 - Midterm Exam - open book
Exam is mostly writing exercise; also Q&A based on previous quizzes. Make-up exam: the following Friday, 2pm - in room 800 of Torco Bldg. (624 S. Mich.) Check the assignment link for homework assignment.
Class 8 - Broadcast Release & PSA
Four principal vehicles for broadcast publicity... Differences, writing for the ear vs. the eye... Basic principles of writing for the ear, and formats for the broadcast release & PSA. Check the assignment link for homework assignment.
Class 9 - More on Writing for the Ear
Exercises in broadcast release & PSA writing. Check the assignment link for homework assignment.
Class 10 - Video News Releases, Other Visuals
VNRs, filmscripts, presentations, visual treatments... New technologies in PR. Check the assignment link for homework assignment.
Class 11 - Interviews and Talk Shows
Class 12 - Speeches and Presentations
Class 13 - Ad Copy & Brochure Overview
Class 14 - Summing it up
Class 15 - Final Exam
Part of your assignment for your second class is a brief biographical outline (one page is enough) organized into three topics:
Your family background, where you grew up, where you went to school, etc., up through high school
II. Current life
Your college education, work experience, interests in the past four years or so, up to the present...
III. Spring 2009
Put yourself a decade in the future, and write about what you did, what you accomplished, in the decade 1999-2009. Be realistic, whatever that means to you...