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Welcome to PR Case Studies. Let's get started.

Over the course of the upcoming semester, we will review and discuss a wide range of original case studies posted to a dedicated online site built exclusively for this class. Working in groups, we will examine six additional PR events that generated national headings. 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 its 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 communications, the emerging focus on environmental, social and governance, and PR’s role in managing crisis events.

OK, so how will this work? There are four graded components in this course – class engagement, the group project, and research and writing our original case study. So let’s start with those.

Class engagement

By reading this blog, you are already engaged in this class. Well done. There are 12 blogs posted on this site that we will cover before the mid-term. Engaging in this course starts with reading the blogs, and responding to the discussion prompt at the end. You can post your response, and in some cases begin a conversation by responding to classmates’ posts. Your comments will create a starting point for our in-class discussions.

Ground rules: Be kind, be respectful.

Guidance: Think critically. Respond thoughtfully.

Class engagement counts for 25% of your grade.

Tip: Read every assigned blog post and respond to the comment prompts.

Group project

We will form teams of three that will examine one of six PR events. There will be a more detailed How To posted to the Moodle site, but basically here's how this will work. Each team will review an assigned investigative report or regulatory document that contains details on the who, what, when, where, why and how of the case study. The group will supplement those details with an assessment of the news coverage, and the PR response.

The group project counts for 25% of your grade.

Tip: Plan the work, and work the plan. Successful teams will put in the time.

Case study: Background

Over the course of the semester, we will each compile a background folder with information about a company, brand or organization of our choice. We’ll start by selecting the focus of our case study. Then we will search for recent news coverage, and compile press releases and PR responses to that coverage. Our research will include a Google Trends analysis to determine when consumers engage with our company or brand.

The Background folder counts for 25% of your grade.

Tip: Spend one hour a week tracking your company or brand, and post pdfs of key news coverage and press releases to a shared drive folder that will be created for you.

Case study: Blog post

We will wrap up this course by writing an original case study blog post, like the ones that we read throughout the semester. The blog post will be written using the background we compiled, with a focus on a pivotal event or development, and PR’s role in managing external communications. Finally, we will pull it all together by taking a closer look at a pivotal event or development, and PR’s role.

The original case study blog post counts for 25% of your grade.

Tip: Writing the blog post is a collaborative exercise, and I am available to work with you one-on-one throughout the process. 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. These blogs will cover the material in the first half of the course, and the second half will focus on our group presentations, case study discussions, and writing the original case study blogs.

We will be working on our case studies throughout the semester, including sweeps covering brief recaps of our key findings as we go along.

And we will each present an overview of our case study during engaging 10-minute discussions. The case study also will be written up in a final paper 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 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 the world will be looking for are practical analytic skills and practiced critical thinking, along with an ability to work in a group and present information to the broader team. Interviewers will be impressed with your understanding of how communications can contribute to an organization strategically, and how to create that value. Managers will tap into your ability to write well by relying on facts and drawing supportable conclusions. And, in some cases, students have used materials, insights and networks developed in this course to line up internships and begin a career journey.

Ideally, this class will deliver all of that to you.

Finally, how can I do well in this class?

First off, be engaged. Read the assigned blogs a day or two before class. Join the comment strings, both to add your perspective and respond to your classmates. And bring those insights to class.

Secondly, put in the time. You could treat this course like it was a part-time job. Work at it for several hours every week. Engage with your team on the group project and contribute. Don't wait until the last minute to read the blogs or complete the assignments. As you compile background documents, for example, write paragraphs summarizing each one as part of your final blog.

Third, take advantage of what this class offers you. At this point in your academic career, you may be getting tired of reading chapters, taking quizzes, cramming for tests, and writing seemingly endless papers. 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 our first class. 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…

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