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

Over the course of the upcoming semester, we will review a dozen case studies featured in the blog posts on this site. Working in groups, we will pull together an analysis of press releases and news coverage about six additional crisis events. We will each produce a 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 three graded components in this course – class engagement, a group project and an 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, which was custom-built for this class. 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.

Group projects

We will form teams of three that will examine one of six pivotal crisis events. There will be a more detailed How To posted to the Moodle site, but basically the deliverable from the team will document the key press releases, the corresponding news coverage, and the contributions that PR made in shaping the story and managing the outcomes. More to come on this.

Case studies

Over the course of the semester, we will each produce a detailed assessment of the overall PR efforts of a major company or national brand. We’ll start by selecting our case study company. Then we will assess their online newsrooms, including a close look at their financial reports. When do consumers engage with our company or brand? We will tap into Google Trends to assess trends in online search. Finally, we will pull it all together by taking a closer look at a pivotal event or development, and PR’s role.

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

Finally, instead of a final exam, 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.

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.

But what the world will be looking for are practical analytic skills and practiced critical thinking, along with an ability to present information to a team and work in a group. 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 project team and contribute. Open a Word document today and start your case study by selecting a company. Then add a little to that case study every week.

Okay. 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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