Newhouse School of Public Communications Syracuse University Fall 2012 Syllabus* PRL 614 Advanced Public Relations Writing

for a Digital World Mon-Wed., 12:45—2:05 p.m. Room 205A, Newhouse I Instructor: Amy Schmitz Adjunct Professor of Public Relations Director of Communications, ProLiteracy By appointment @Amy_Schmitz (315) 412-4118 (cell) (315) 425-8104 (until 9 pm) (preferred) Blackboard ( is our course management program, accessed by your email account The Associated Press 2012 Stylebook

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*Syllabus is subject to change. Course Description In order to succeed in our profession, public relations professionals must be good writers and communicators. This includes mastering grammar, punctuation, form and style, but more importantly, understanding the dynamics of each intended audience and identifying the key message or messages for every communication vehicle you compose. PR professionals must know how to write clearly, concisely, effectively, under the pressure of deadlines, and increasingly using new media. Students will become familiar with maximizing web content and learn how to work with online media outlets. Students will draft materials for a variety of contexts, including small business enterprises, nonprofit organizations, corporations and governments. A highlight of the course will be the crisis communications team project that will allow students to demonstrate their proficiency in PR strategy, messaging, planning, writing and working with the media, culminating in a press briefing related to a crisis. Course Goal To achieve the proficiency in written communication that is expected of entry-level public relations professionals as well as to develop knowledge of traditional and new media outlets. Course Objectives: 1

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To understand the needs of traditional and new media and various audiences; To be able to write clear, concise copy that is logically organized and accurate; To learn how to find and use reliable information; To understand the requirements of different forums and formats of writing; To explore and gain an understanding of the nuances and requirements of writing within the realm of diversity and multiculturalism, taking into consideration genders and ethnicities; To learn to understand the needs of the client in preparing written materials and communications; and To understand the many responsibilities of the PR function and various roles internally and externally in crisis communications.

Expectations Professionalism: You are expected to act professionally. This means being on time; reading assignments in advance; contributing to class discussions; maintaining notes and materials in an orderly fashion; adopting a respectful, work-oriented demeanor during class; honoring commitments; meeting deadlines; and listening attentively. This includes refraining from texting and using the Internet for personal reasons during class. Accuracy: Errors detract from the finest writing. You will be graded down when your work contains factual, grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors. The more serious the error, the more points will be graded down Integrity and Honesty: Your work must be your own. You are expected to adhere to the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity in the preparation of all of your work. The Syracuse University Academic Integrity Policy holds students accountable for the integrity of the work they submit. Students should be familiar with the policy and know that it is their responsibility to learn about the instructor and general academic expectations with regard to proper citation of sources in written work. The policy also governs the integrity of work submitted in exams and assignments as well as the veracity of signatures on attendance sheets and other verifications of participation in class activities. Serious sanctions can result from academic dishonesty of any sort. For more information and the complete policy, see the Academic Integrity Policy and Procedure. The Syracuse University Code of Conduct states that it is a violation of the Code to engage in academic dishonesty, including, but not limited to, plagiarism, cheating and other forms of academic misconduct, for example, misuse of academic resources or facilities, misuse of data, equipment or networks, or any act that hinders the academic process. Student work suspected of plagiarism may be subjected to electronic search methods. The policy on cheating follows the university’s academic standards, which state: Syracuse University students shall exhibit honesty in all academic endeavors. Cheating in any form is not tolerated, nor is assisting another person to cheat. The submission of any work by a student is taken as a guarantee that the thoughts and expressions in it are the student’s own except when properly credited to another. Violations of this principle include giving or receiving aid in an 2

exam or when otherwise prohibited, fraud, plagiarism, the falsification or forgery of any record, or any other deceptive act in connection with academic work. Plagiarism is the representation of another’s words, ideas, programs, formulae, opinions or other products of work as one’s own, either overtly or by failing to attribute them to their true source. Sanctions for violations will be imposed by the dean, faculty, or student standards committee of the appropriate school or college. Documentation of such academic dishonesty may be included in an appropriate student file at the recommendation of the academic dean. Plagiarism or fabrication of any portion of an assignment will result in an “F” for that assignment and may result in an “F” for the course or be referred to the Academic Standards Committee with a recommendation of suspension or expulsion. When you are presenting evidence for an argument, it is your responsibility to attribute the source of that evidence, whether it is quoted word for word or paraphrased. Failure to do so will be treated as plagiarism since it does not give credit for another’s work. The same holds true for a line of reasoning that is not your own but is used in your argument. The Newhouse School policy states: Any piece of work bearing a student’s name is assumed by the school to guarantee that the thoughts, expressions, editorials and photographic material not credited to another are literally the student’s own. If such credit is not given for another’s work the student shall be guilty of committing plagiarism. Plagiarism proceedings will begin when a teacher submits evidence thereof to the Academic Standards Committee of the School. It is not permissible for any student to submit the same material, with substantially the same style, structure or wording to instructors in two or more courses. Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Our community values diversity and seeks to promote meaningful access to educational opportunities for all students. Syracuse University is committed to your success and to supporting Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990). If you believe that you need accommodations for a disability, please contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) located at 804 University Avenue, room 309, or call (315) 443 4498. ODS is responsible for coordinating disability-related accommodations and will issue students with documented disabilities “Accommodation Authorization Letters,” as appropriate. Religious Observances: SU’s religious observances policy can be found on the SU website. SU recognizes the diversity of all faiths represented among the campus community and protects the rights of students, faculty and staff to observe religious holy days according to their tradition. Students will be provided an opportunity to make up any examination, study or work requirements that may be missed due to a religious observance provided they notify the instructor before the end of the second week of classes. Students who plan to observe a religious holiday this term must use the online notification process on MySlice, available only during the first two weeks of classes. Use of Student Work (FERPA): The professor will use academic work that you complete this semester for educational purposes in this course during the term. Your registration and continued enrollment constitute your permission. In addition, this professor may use academic work that you complete this term in subsequent semesters for educational purposes. Before using your 3

work for that purpose, your professor is required to either get your written permission or render the work anonymous by removing all your personal identification. Attendance: Attendance in this class is mandatory with the exception of medical/family emergencies and/or pre-approved Newhouse events. If you are unable to be in class on a given day, you are required to email me by 10 a.m. that day. Special circumstances are to be brought to my attention before missing any class. Note that attendance—and arriving to class on time—is factored into the participation portion of your grade, which is worth 30 points. Form: Prepare all written assignments as if they were going to be published. We will be using the Newhouse PR Style Guide—follow the format within that style guide for all assignments. No handwritten work or drafts will be accepted. Unless otherwise specified, all writing assignments should be submitted on 8 x 11 inch paper; printed on one side of the page only; prepared in a 12 point type face; and free of handwritten corrections. Timeliness: You are expected to meet all deadlines. Assignments turned in late will be automatically graded down. Style: You will be expected to master the key elements of the Associated Press style, incorporating these elements in all of your written assignments. Final Take Home Exam: The final take home exam will center on several communications pieces pertaining to the information and materials discussed throughout the semester. Rewrites: Inherent within the essence of writing is the willingness to rewrite to enhance and maximize the communication. Since one of your goals of this class should be to produce polished work for your professional portfolio, you will have the opportunity during the semester to rewrite and resubmit assignments at the discretion of and in consultation with the instructor. Students must submit the original document with the rewrite or no credit will be given. Course Content–Grading Criteria: 1. Weekly Writing Assignments (11 assignments @ 20 points each): The weekly “takehome” assignments will be graded on how well they meet the criteria of the specific assignment, how clearly and concisely the message is delivered to the intended audience, and the adherence to AP style and basic spelling, grammar and punctuation. ****You will have the opportunity during the semester to rewrite and resubmit two written, take-home assignments for a new grade. You must use the appropriate form and turn in the rewritten assignment within two weeks of receiving the initial grade. In order to improve your grade with the rewrite, you are expected to do more than just correct editing mistakes; the rewrite will have to reflect substantial content changes. Students must submit the original document with the rewrite or no credit will be given 2. In-Class Writing Exercises (Five assignments @ 8 points each): Public relations professionals often write on a deadline. These in-class exercises are designed to provide you 4

with real-time scenarios you may face as a practitioner and teach you how to deal with the pressure of working under a deadline. While students are assigned to write something almost every class period, only four of these assignments will count toward the final grade as noted on the schedule. 3. Blog (11 assignments @ 2 points each): You will create your own blog and be assigned general topics to write about throughout the semester. 4. Discussion Leader/Case Studies (18 points): At some point during the semester, you will be asked to present a case study related to crisis and social media and lead the class discussion. You will be graded on your grasp of the case and ability to lead the group in a relevant discussion of the topic using PowerPoint or some other presentation software. The assignments will require you to submit a folder including a copy of the case study and a summary of about 700-800 words. You may also submit copies of your presentation. 5. Team Project (40 points): During Week 10, students will break into three teams to work on a crisis communication project that will incorporate many of the public relations tools introduced in the class. The culmination of the project will be the execution of a press briefing for a mock audience of journalists. This grade will be determined by the instructor with input from each team member. 6. Class Participation (30 points): In order to receive credit for class participation on any given day, a student must be in class and actively participate in class discussions/exercises. In addition, they must conduct themselves in a professional manner. There are no “partial” participation points for a class period – it’s all or nothing. 7. Final Project (30 points): Students will be asked to complete the components necessary for an online press kit. Assignment Weekly Writing Assignments In-Class Writing Exercise Blog Discussion Leader Team Project Class Participation Final Project Total Points 220 40 22 18 40 30 30 400 % of Grade 55% 10% 5% 5% 10% 7.5% 7.5% 100%

The final grading is based on the accumulated number of points as follows:


370-400 = A 360-369 = A348-359 = B+ 330-347 = B 320-329 = B308-319 = C+ 290-307 = C 280-289 = C000-279 = F


COURSE SCHEDULE WEEK Week 1 (8/27-8/29) TOPIC Introductions, Orientation, Syllabus Review Writing Assignment: press releases Blog Week 2 (no class 9/3; 9/5) Guest Speaker Blog Legacy versus New Media Case Study Writing Assignments: social media press release/Twitter Case Study Writing Assignments: business letters Blog Case Study Writing Assignment: profile stories Blog Case Study Writing Assignment: blog posts and internal communications Blog Case Study Writing Assignment: talking points and speeches Blog Case Study Writing Assignment: employee newsletters Blog Case Study Writing Assignments: pitch letters Blog Case Study Writing Assignment: op-ed Blog 8

Week 3 (9/10 – 9/12)

Week 4 (9/17-9/19)

Week 5 (9/24-9/26)

Week 6 (10/110/3)

Week 7 (10/8-10/10)

Week 8 (10/15-10/17)

Week 9 (10/22-10/24)

Week 10 (10/29-10/31)

Week 11 (11/5-11/7)

Crisis Communications Writing Assignment: crisis press release Crisis Communications, continued

Week 12 (11/12-11/14) Small group work

Week 13 (no class 11/19-11/21) Thanksgiving Break Week 14 (11/26-11/28) Press Briefings Writing Assignment: news story “Live” Blogging/Tweeting/Skyping Ethics and Public Relations Final Project Handout and Discussion Course Evaluations Final Project Due

Week 15 (12/3-12/5)



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