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Updated: Jan 8
Welcome to PR Case Studies. Let's get started.
Over the course of the upcoming semester, we will cover a wide range of original case studies covered in these blogs, which were written exclusively for this class. Working in groups, we will explore PR efforts to manage breaking news ranging from product recalls and publicity campaigns to cyberattacks and COVID complications. And we will each research and write an original case study about a company or national brand.
Through these case studies, we will explore the field of public relations and real-world applications for companies, social causes, and political campaigns. After building a shared perspective in PR theory, ethics and law, we will use that framework to examine media relations, marketing and financial communications. We will wrap up by assessing PR's role in promoting environmental, social and governance objectives, and managing crisis events.
OK, so how will this work? There are four graded components in this course – Class Engagement, the Group Project, and researching and writing our original case study brief. So let’s start with those.
By reading this blog, you are already engaged in this class. Well done. There are 16 blogs posted on this site that we will cover during the semester. Engaging in this course starts with reading the blogs, and responding to the discussion prompts at the end. You can post your response, and your comments will create a starting point for our in-class discussions.
Ground rules: Be kind, empathetic and open to everyone's ideas.
Guidance: Think critically. Respond thoughtfully. React gracefully.
Class engagement counts for 20% of your grade.
Tip: Read every assigned blog post and respond to the comment prompts, and you will easily ace this part of the class.
We will form six teams of three students each that will examine the types of news stories that trigger significant shifts in consumer perceptions about companies and national brands. Each team will research news coverage and PR responses, and present their findings on the news narratives.
The group project counts for 20% of your grade.
Tip: Plan the work, and work the plan. Successful teams will put in the time, be creative and work collaboratively.
Case Study: Research
Over the course of the semester, we will each compile background research about a company, brand or organization of our choice. We’ll start by selecting the focus of our case study. Then we will summarize recent press releases and news coverage, along with narratives from financial reports and Environmental, Social and Governance commitments. Our research will include a Google Trends analysis.
The background research counts for 40% of your grade.
Tip: Spend at least two hours a week compiling information for your case study. Follow the prompts in the worksheets that can be downloaded from Moodle. Continue to add to your research findings throughout the semester.
Case Study: Brief
We will wrap up this course by writing an original case study blog brief, based primarily on the background research we compiled. The brief will include a focus on a pivotal event or development, and PR’s functional, tactical and strategic roles in managing that event.
The original case study brief post counts for 20% of your grade.
Tip: Writing the case study brief is a collaborative exercise. As a class, we will determine the format and required elements. I will be available to work with you one-on-one until the last day of class. Take advantage of that.
If you have had a chance to glance at the syllabus, you may have noticed a couple of other features in this class. For one, no textbook. You’re welcome. The case study blogs on this website each illustrate a focus of PR -- ethics and law, media relations, marketing communication, financial communication, the emerging field of headline risk, and ESG and crisis communication.
We will be working on our case studies throughout the semester, presenting our findings to the class in four-minute lightning rounds as we go along.
At the end of the semester, we will each present an overview of our case study during engaging 10-minute sweeps. The case study will be written up as a final brief due at the start of our exam period. There is no final exam.
At this point, maybe you are asking yourself, “What’s in this for me?” Let’s be real. In the working world, no one is likely to quiz you on whether Facebook is a publisher or a platform, how the news media was weaponized against Food Lion or the founder of Papa John’s, or whether PR could have helped Wells Fargo avoid billions of dollars in losses from an otherwise run-of-the-mill legal settlement. We will cover all of that in class.
What employers will be looking for are practical analytic skills and practiced critical thinking, along with an ability to work in a group, present information in a compelling way to the broader team, and write concisely. Interviewers will be impressed with your understanding of how communications can contribute to an organization tactically and strategically, and how to create that value. Managers will tap into your ability to make fact-based observations and generate actionable insights. And, in some cases, students have used this course to line up internships and begin a career journey.
Ideally, this class will deliver all of that to you.
So, how can I do well in this class?
First off, engage. Read the assigned blogs a day or two before class. Respond to the blog prompt the night before class, at the latest. And be prepared to share your insights during class.
Second, put in the time. Ideally, you could treat this course like it was a part-time job. There simply is no way to cram in this class. Work at it for several hours every week. Engage with your team on the group project and contribute. Constantly be adding details to your background worksheets, and summarize those details as you draft your final brief.
Third, take advantage of what this class offers you. At this point in your academic career, you may be wondering whether you are ready for the working world. This class is designed to provide you with transportable skills -- time management, project management, analysis, presentation and writing -- to help you prepare to launch a career in whatever field you choose.
We will cover all of this during class on Monday. And here's our first chance to engage:
In the comments block below, briefly introduce yourself to the class.
What year are you, what’s your major,
and what are your interests outside of school?
Close with one sentence on what you are looking to get out of this class.
Off we go…