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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 track the political narratives from six state Governor elections heading into November. 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 and financial 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 researching and writing our original case study. So let’s start with those.
By reading this blog, you are already engaged in this class. Well done. There are 13 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, and support your case study research.
Ground rules: Be kind, empathetic and open to everyone's ideas.
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.
We will form six teams of two or three each that will examine a pivotal state governor races. Basically, here's how this will work. Each team will track the campaign website, news coverage and published polls about an assigned gubernatorial election. The week before election day, the groups will present their findings on the news narratives, polling trends and pivotal moments of the election.
The group project counts for 25% 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: Backgrounder
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 -- a company or cause. 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 cause. The research will be guided in part by the prompts from these blog posts.
The Background research counts for 25% of your grade.
Tip: Spend at least two hours a week tracking your company or cause. Post pdfs of key news coverage and press releases to a shared drive document that will be created for you. Build on your responses to the blog prompts.
Case study: Case study blog
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 or internal communications.
The original case study blog post counts for 25% of your grade.
Tip: Writing the blog post is a collaborative exercise. I am available to work with you one-on-one throughout the semester on your writing. 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 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 the world will be looking for are practical analytic skills and practiced critical thinking, along with an ability to work in a group, present information 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 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.
So, 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. Constantly be adding details to your backgrounder, and summarize those details as you draft 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…