For my COMM 4633 Social Media for PR Spring 2013 class at Southeastern University
For those students in Social Media for PR who choose not to complete a Personal Learning Network Project, there is another option. You can write a short paper on an aspect of social media in public relations. Topics for your paper could include virtually anything we’ve read about as part of our course. Consider what’s most interesting to you or what you are most passionate about. Even consider what’s most confusing about social media. You could write a case study or a literature review, if you wish, as your paper.
- Use APA Style (preferably 6th edition)
- Five to seven pages, not including Title Page, Abstract & Works Cited
- Eight to ten sources, including at least two peer-reviewed sources. Peer-reviewed sources include: Journal of Public Relations Research, Public Relations Journal, Public Relations Quarterly, Public Relations Review.
PART 1 – TOPIC CHOICE (25 POINTS OF FINAL GRADE)
DUE: End of Week 3, in MyFire
What topic have you chosen for your term paper? Why do you think this will be a beneficial topic for you to research?
PART 2 – ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY (50 POINTS OF FINAL GRADE)
DUE: End of Week 5, in MyFire
Using the guidelines provided by Purdue’s OWL, submit your APA-formatted annotated bibliography of eight to ten sources, including at least two peer-reviewed sources. Peer-reviewed sources include: Journal of Public Relations Research, Public Relations Journal, Public Relations Quarterly, Public Relations Review. For each source, do at least one of the following, in a well-developed paragraph: summarize, assess and/or reflect. (See a sample annotated bibliography.)
PART 3 – COMPLETED PAPER (175 POINTS OF FINAL GRADE)
DUE: End of Week 6, in MyFire
A rubric for evaluation will be available by the end of Week 4.
Though the tips in this post are aimed primarily at those who are participating in on-demand learning (AKA elearning) in the workplace, many of these suggestions also apply in for-credit online college courses.
- Get into a proper mindset. Remember that on-demand learning is NOT a poor replacement for instructor-led, classroom training. In fact, according to a US Department of Education study, elearning has been found to be more efficient and have better retention in many cases.
- Schedule time on your calendar for the course, just like you would for any classroom training.
- Find a quiet, distraction-free environment for the course, if possible. Perhaps you could use an available conference room if you don’t have a private office.
- Let your co-workers know that you will be unavailable for the time that you are completing the class. Forward your calls to voicemail, if that’s acceptable in your workplace.
- Consider even posting a sign outside your office or cube letting others know that your learning is in progress.
- If there is audio for the course, and you do not have a private room in which to take the training, wear your most comfortable headphones. (For me personally, if the course will take more than an hour, I’d prefer to wear over-the-ear headphones rather than earbuds.)
- Limit your own multi-tasking during the course, no matter how tempting it might be.
- Before the course begins, think “How might what I will learn help my ability to succeed at work?”
- As you’re going through the scenarios in the training, jot down how you will apply the concepts on the job in your specific work environment.
- Unlike in a classroom setting, go at your own pace. Start and stop the training as needed. Replay or repeat sections when you need to, without the nagging worry that you’re holding others back.
- Take lots of notes. Don’t rely on your memory.
- After you’ve completed the course, have a discussion with co-workers about what you learned. (This will increase your own retention of the information.)
- And for environmentally conscious learners, knowing that on-demand learning uses a significantly smaller carbon footprint is a welcome benefit.
What other suggestions do you have for getting the most from an on-demand learning course?
As I sat there in the pre-dawn hours at my in-laws’ home in Biloxi, sipping my coffee in the dark, listening to nearly a dozen relatives snoring (mostly) quietly, I began to reflect on Thanksgiving and what it means to me. And inevitably, I started making connections between this traditional large family meal and my college classes. Why? I don’t know. But it popped into my head, so I went with it. I started thinking . . . what has Thanksgiving dinner taught me that has made me a better communicator? And this is what I came up with.
Turkey: The best turkey I ever had was a deep-fried one. Mmmm. But boy oh boy can deep frying a turkey be a dangerous task. In my classes, sometimes I like to walk on the edge a bit with our discussions. I must always remember to keep the metaphorical fire extinguisher nearby, just in case of explosions.
Cranberry Sauce: It doesn’t all need to be sweetness and light in my classes. I can be tangy/tart and get some points across even better. I just need to watch for my snark level getting too high.
Dressing / Stuffing: Just like some folks prefer stuffing (cooked inside the turkey) and others prefer dressing (cooked outside), my students have preferred learning styles. If I want them all to learn, I need to offer both.
Rolls: At our house, the rolls were often an afterthought. Sometimes we baked them halfway through the meal and served them almost at the end. Great teaching ideas sometimes crop up last minute, too.
Gravy: The first time I had Thanksgiving with my in-laws, I saw my soon-to-be mother-in-law making hard-boiled eggs. When I asked, “What are the eggs for?” she looked at me quizzically and said, “For the gravy, of course.” It was that day that I learned that some of my preconceived notions about how things should be done were way off base. The gravy — hard-boiled eggs, gizzards & all — was wonderful. Sometimes I need to add something a colleague suggests, something that may seem off-base to me at first, into my classes just to mix things up a bit.
Green Bean Casserole: Has there ever been a tastier, yet less attractive, side dish? Sometimes the methods I use in my class may seem a bit slopped together, but I promise there is a method behind the madness, and it will all come out “tasting” wonderful in the end.
“Uncle Oscar”: I think everyone has that one relative — we’ll call him Uncle Oscar here — who you invite to dinner knowing full well he will attempt to monopolize the dinner conversation. Consider making placecards and assigning seats for dinner. Whoever had the pleasure of sitting near Uncle Oscar last year gets to sit at the opposite end of the table this year. And in class, when I have an Uncle Oscar — the student who feels compelled to answer EVERY question I ask — I do my best to ask questions in a way so that Uncle Oscar doesn’t get the opportunity to answer first, at least. For example, I may say, “Let’s hear from two or three people who went to high school outside of the state of Florida,” knowing full well that Uncle Oscar is a local boy. Or “Let’s hear from the last person to take his or her seat in class today.” And many times, I’ll have whoever has just answered a question choose who answers the next question. This helps us hear from more voices and learn from more points of view than just Uncle Oscar, no matter how smart or sweet he is.
Black Olives: As I was growing up, my mother would always open a can of black olives and leave it in the fridge before Thanksgiving dinner. It always brought us into the kitchen so we could snitch an olive or two while she was cooking. Similarly, I leave a basket of candy in my office at all times. (I’m not confident my students share my affinity for black olives!) Some of the best conversations I have with my students are when they just happen to pop by for a Fireball, Nerds or a Snickers bar.
Dessert: My favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is eating pie for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving. In my classes, I like starting with the fun stuff first, especially when the previous class (meal) was a bit on the heavy side.
Leftovers: With every Thanksgiving dinner, at least every Nixon one, comes leftovers. Lots and lots of leftovers. Well, we often have planned-overs (we cook extra of some of the food with intentions of having it for another meal later.) I frequently give students bite-size chunks of information on one day that I intend for them to repurpose another day in class. The key is getting them to remember the information from the previous day. If anyone has tips for this, please share!
So what has Thanksgiving dinner taught YOU about being a better communicator?
Now that the cold front has moved in and we’ve finally had a bit of rain, it’s even more gorgeous at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. Here is a selection of some of the hundreds of the photos I have taken there in September (so far).
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to go back up to Green Bay, where my family lived for almost 13 years. In addition to great conversation with good friends, I went to the Green Bay Botanical Garden on another of my photo safaris. It was a nice, cool, windless day (otherwise known as a perfect day for taking pictures).
It surprised even me when I realized I had never visited the garden when we lived in the area, except to see the annual WPS Garden of Lights over the holidays several years.
Here are a few of the photos I took while meandering through the garden with my good friend Ann.
Do you have a favorite photo in this slideshow?
For this assignment in COMM 4363, you will choose and interview a corporate public relations professional — as opposed to someone who works for an agency, and then write about this interview.
In the Week 4 section in MyFire, submit a Word file with your 500-word (minimum) recap of the interview. In addition to the recap, you’ll need to provide me with the PR professional’s contact information (name, title & company, phone number and e-mail address).
Due Date: See our course in MyFire
Though a face-to-face interview is preferred, a phone or webcam interview is acceptable. An interview that is e-mail or text-based only is not acceptable.
Schedule your interview at least a week before this assignment is due, preferably two. PR professionals sometimes have unpredictable schedules, and it’s possible that you may need to reschedule.
Include an introductory paragraph that introduces the PR professional, including title and company, educational background, etc. Mention your connection to the professional (how you found him/her) and how you conducted the interview (face-to-face, phone or webcam).
Questions/Topics you need to include:
- What’s a typical week like? (If no week is typical, then what was last week like?)
- Tell me about a project you worked on that you are especially proud of.
- What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?
- What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR?
- How important is writing in your career?
- If you’ve ever worked for an agency, how is agency life different from corporate PR life?
- What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?
- After interviewing this person, are you (the student, not the practitioner) more or less likely to want to have a career in PR? Why?
Some questions you may wish to ask:
- Did your education prepare you for working in PR? How?
- What has surprised you the most about working in PR?
- How has PR changed since you entered the field?
- How does technology affect your daily work?
- When your company is hiring for an entry-level PR position, what makes a candidate stand out?
- What professional organizations are you involved in? (For example, PRSA, IABC, etc.)
- Ask for feedback on your resume
- More informational interview questions
Some things you may wish to do:
- Include a photo of your interviewee. (This can be a photo he or she provides or one that you take yourself.)
- Link to your interviewee’s LinkedIn profile and/or blog.
- Conduct the interview using Skype and two webcams. Record the interview with Vodburner, and post the interview at your blog.
[NOTE: This must be an informational interview that you conduct this semester. Do not "recycle" an interview that you conducted during a previous semester.]
For your final project in COMM 4363, you will analyze a Fortune 500 or Inc. 500 company from a public relations perspective. Your project is due on the last day of class, with progress reports due during the semester.
This project is worth a total of 350 points of the 1000 available; a rubric will be available in MyFire by the second week of the semester.
You will have the option of creating the written portion of the project as a traditional term paper or as a series of blog posts. Let your professor know your decision no later than Week Two.
If you choose to do this project as a traditional term paper:
- Use APA style for formatting and source citations
- Include a title page and table of contents
- Submit your paper in MyFire.
- NOTE: Another option is to write a traditional term paper of at least 10 pages, on any topic discussed in our textbook Reputation Management. I will write a separate blog post with more details on this option, if any of my students choose to write a traditional term paper.
If you choose to do this project as a series of blog posts:
- Create one page (not post, but page) on your blog with hyperlinks to all the posts; list the posts on your page in the order below. Submit the URL of your page in MyFire.
- Cite your sources within the posts, and also provide hyperlinks to the each original source if the source is available online.
- An overview of the company and what it does
- A timeline of the company, using an interactive timeline creator such as Dipity, Timetoast or Timeline JS. The timeline needs to include at least ten milestones, with dates, images, descriptions, etc.
- Based on Grunig & Hunt’s models of PR, which model is the company using? Provide examples.
- Describe the publics, including customers, of the company (or one of its subsidiaries)
- Top challenges facing the company (including the current financial market)
- For at least one news release, compare how the news release appears in the company’s online newsroom to how the story appeared when it was published in the media
- An analysis of how the company uses and benefits from (or could benefit from) social media. Provide links to all major social media accounts for the company, if available.
- An overview and critique of the company’s online newsroom
- Career opportunities in PR, corporate communication, marketing, etc., within the company
- Based on your research of this company, are you now MORE or LESS likely to want to work for the company? Why? Provide at least two paragraphs of a rationale for your decision.
Also, choose two from the following if you are working alone on the project:
- One crisis the company has faced and how it dealt with it
- Describe how the company is involved in its communities
- Awards and honors the company has garnered in the past 10 years & how the company is using the awards/honors for promotion
- Interview (phone or e-mail) a public relations professional within the company
- Create your resume and cover letter as though you are applying for an entry-level PR position within the company
- Another section of your choice, as long as you clear it with your professor by Week Four
- Week 2: Choose a company.
- Week 3: Let me know your decision of whether you’ll do a traditional term paper or a series of blog posts.
- Week 4: Last date to pitch an idea for a section in your paper to me (if there’s something you would like to write about your company that is not on the list above)
- Week 8: Final project due