In our Introduction to Public Relations class (PRCA 2330 at Georgia Southern University), we’ll all blog about the same general topic each week during the summer semester. Your TOWs of 300 words or more should be posted by Saturday at noon at the end of each week (except for Week Two, which is due Friday by 4:45 pm for your first Blog Checkpoint).
Some weeks have more than one topic listed; choose one of the available topics on those weeks.
If you mention a website or another blog, be sure to hyperlink to the post. And consider inserting graphics to add visual interest for your readers.
If you are unsure how to get started writing these TOWs, many times you can use this three-pronged approach:
- What did you learn?
- What surprised you?
- What do you want to know more about?
- No TOW required. But if you would like to go back and write one, what is a “public”? Which publics are you a member of? How did you choose to become a member of those publics? (Choose and discuss at least three.)
- Why are comments such an integral part of blogs? What advice would you offer on writing effective blog comments? (Be sure to link to at least two sources for your information.)
- Based on what you read in Chapter 4 of your Public Relations Strategies & Tactics book, do you think it’s more beneficial for a new PR practitioner to begin his/her career in a PR department or in a PR firm? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? (Be sure to link to at least two sources for your information.)
- Watch my interview with Martin Waxman. Use the three-pronged approach (described toward the top of this blog post) to react to the interview. (And consider visiting Martin’s blog and leaving a comment there for him on one of his posts.)
- Watch my interview with Kneale Mann. Use the three-pronged approach (described toward the top of this blog post) to react to the interview. (And consider visiting Kneale’s blog and leaving a comment there for him on one of his posts.)
- One Week of Twitter (complete your One Week of Twitter assignment during Week Four, then write about it during Week Five).
- Based on what you learned in this week’s class discussions and lecture on Public Relations During Times of Crisis, write a blog post about some aspect of crisis communication.
- Listen to at least one hour of PR/marketing podcasts (such as For Immediate Release, Inside PR, The Creative Career, Coming Up PR, Trafcom News or Marketing Over Coffee). Briefly summarize what you heard. Discuss how listening to PR podcasts can benefit PR students or new PR practitioners. (Optional: Also, write a short review of the podcast at iTunes.)
- Public relations practitioners often use news releases to get their clients into the news. Provide 10 tips for writing an effective news release. (Be sure to link to at least two sources for your information.)
- What advice would you offer PR students who are new to blogging? Come up with your own Top 10 list. [NOTE: This blog post is due on the MONDAY of the last week of class, July 12.]
Wondering if you are on the right track with what I am expecting from your blogs? Here’s a checklist for you based on what should be at your blog by the end of February. I will be evaluating your blogs again (for a grade) at some point in early March. It’s likely that I will not announce the specific date ahead of time. I will go back and look at previous posts again.
Georgia Southern classes:
Southeastern University classes:
As I’ve reminded you in class frequently, it’s critical to keep up with your blogs. If you haven’t already done so, you may want to create an Editorial Calendar for yourself to help schedule your required posts.
Finally, in some informal checks I’ve done recently, here are a few things that I’ve noticed:
- When you put in a hyperlink, don’t let the reader see the URL. Ever. Simply hyperlink from a few relevant words.
- Blog comments (the ones you write on others’ blogs) need to be added to ONE post of yours, not as individual posts in your blog.
- Proofread. Any errors diminish your credibility as a future PR practitioner.
- See the Improving Your Blog video I created for you in January after the last blog check.
“You only learn to be a better writer by actually writing.” Doris Lessing
In addition to traditional writing assignments (news releases, feature stories, etc.) in our PR Writing course, all students in my PRCA 3330 classes at Georgia Southern University and COMM 4333 class at Southeastern University will also create and maintain a blog as part of the course. This post explains the types of content I expect you to write about in your blog for PRCA 3330 or COMM 4333.
Please add a category for each type (listed below), and make sure each post is categorized appropriately. Each post for this class must have the category of “PRCA 3330” or “COMM 4333” along with at least one additional category. (If you do not categorize your posts with the name of the class, it will be much more difficult for me to find them.)
1. Reading notes – brief notes or key ideas from the reading assigned for that week’s class. Jot down 3-5 ideas that you believe are the most important & wish to remember. Be very brief, but write enough so someone who can’t read your mind understands what you mean and I am convinced that you actually did the readings. Remember to cite your source(s) when you paraphrase or quote materials from the readings; use a hyperlink to the book (either at the publisher’s site or at a bookseller like Amazon.com).
2. Topic of the Week – Together as a class, we will come up with a topic (or topics) each week for you to write about. You should have 15 of these before the end of the semester. See our TOW list (which will be updated weekly).
3. PR Connections – commentary, reflections and opinions about PR issues/examples that were not addressed in class. These can be responses to other PR blogs you read, links to interesting posts or articles, embedded YouTube videos, etc. You should write at least 10 of these during the semester.
4. Blog comments – whenever you comment on someone’s PR blog (whether it’s a PR professional or a PR student), add the comment to ONE post that you update throughout the semester so I can assess your online participation. Do this only for PR-related blogs. See Tracking Your Blog Comments for Nixon’s Classes for more information.
5. Personal – optional category. Use it for any posts not related to public relations.
You may add other categories and sub-categories of your choice. Please keep in mind that when I evaluate your blog I will pay special attention to the categories listed above, but I will not ignore other posts. I will perform a wholistic evaluation of your blog, looking for:
- professionalism: Clear, correct, thoughtful writing
- frequency: Sufficient posts in categories 1-3, posted throughout the semester. There will be at least four blog checkpoints during the semester.
- linking: Identify other PR blogs (use PR Open Mic or my blogroll in my Delicious bookmarks as starting points) and link to them. Respond to others’ posts. Become a part of the blogosphere. Blogging should not be lonely.
- readability: brief & concise writing style, use of white space, bold characters, images, bullet points
SUPER-IMPORTANT: In order for you to get credit for your blog, I need to know where it is. Tell me your blog address by completing this Google Form; do this no later than the end of January.
Questions? Just let me know.
NOTE: Many thanks to Dr. Mihaela Vorvoreanu at Purdue University, who allowed me to use her blogging guidelines from her PRinciples class. They were so well-written that I made just a few tweaks for my own class. Dr. V knows that Blogs Matter.
Let’s face it . . . whether you’re a PR student, practitioner or faculty member, we’re all busy. So how can you get (and stay) up to speed with the ever-changing world of public relations? Here’s a quick guide to how I stay current in public relations.
One: Listen to PR podcasts.
Some of my favorite podcasts are: For Immediate Release, Inside PR, The Creative Career, Trafcom News, Marketing Over Coffee, and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. My favorite time to listen to podcasts is during my daily three-mile walks. I also listen to them when I drive, work out and clean the house. Some people prefer to listen to podcasts on their computers; my preference is listening to them on my Palm Pre or iPod.
Here’s a short video on how to subscribe to and download podcasts using iTunes. If you’re not an iTunes person, you may want to visit Podcast Alley, where you can find thousands more podcasts. You can listen to the podcasts directly from the website.
Two: Read PR blogs.
There are hundreds of blogs about public relations. I’ve bookmarked many of them in Delicious for you. You can subscribe to them using your favorite RSS reader (such as Google Reader), or just read them on the web. Some of the most helpful blogs I’ve discovered recently include The Comms Corner and Karen Russell’s Week’s Best, as they aggregate current posts of interest to PR practitioners.
Three: Follow PR practitioners on Twitter.
Are you a public relations student (or recent grad) just getting started using Twitter? Try following some (or all) of these people or organizations in my Twitter Starter Pack for PR Students. They all have something in common: they tweet useful or interesting information for people involved in public relations.
Four: Subscribe to daily or weekly PR e-mailed newsletters.
My favorite PR newsletter is one that comes into my inbox daily from Ragan Communications: the PR Daily newsfeed. When I want to read the latest on PR, this is the newsletter I turn to first. Another helpful newsletter comes from Chris Brogan; Chris provides different content in the newsletter than he does on his blog, so it’s definitely worth subscribing.
What additional resources would you recommend?
FIRST: Let me know your blog address by commenting on PRCA 2330 :: Spring 2009 Student Blogs.
NEXT: How do you go about learning more to create a blog that reflects your personality and style?
Fortunately, WordPress offers many FAQ screencasts to help you with the step-by-step instructions. Here are a few of the best ones to help you get started on the right foot:
- What should I do first?
- General settings
- Where’s my dashboard (and what’s it for)?
- Writing & publishing your posts
- and dozens more
And though you may have a good handle on the technical aspects of blogging, remember that the technical side is only part of the blogging equation. Corinne Weisgerber, a professor at St. Edward’s University and fellow PROpenMic member, created this presentation for her Social Media for PR class. The emphasis? How blogging can help you create your personal brand online. Take a look. It’s worth the time.
Students in my Corporate Public Relations class at Georgia Southern are blogging as part of their learning experience in the class. I am confident that they would welcome your feedback on their blogs.