You are on page 1of 3

Instructor: Patricia Schoch, Ph.D. Office: SM 4.629 Office Hours: By Appointment 972-883-6298; pschoch@utdallas.


Public Communication Theory AMS 3314 Fall 2005-2006 Thursdays, 7 – 9:45 p.m. Room: CB 1.108

Course Description: How are the ways public institutions use communication strategies different from the ways that private organizations use communication strategies? How are they the same? These two questions will provide the overarching theme for this course, which will focus on public relations strategies and how they can be most effectively employed by public institutions in a variety of situations. Three major areas will be covered in the course. First an overview of the various tools available to public affairs officers in the twenty-first century will be presented. Second a wide range of communication needs and situations experienced by organizations will be examined. Third, and most importantly, successful communications campaigns by a variety of public institutions will be analyzed.

Course Objectives: The course is designed to examine communication theory in relation to the ways in which the U.S. government and other institutions present themselves. By the end of the semester, students should be able to: 1) demonstrate knowledge of basic public relations strategies; 2) understand how and when to apply public relations strategically to an organization’s communication needs and challenges; and 3) design and present a communication plan that addresses a specific set of needs for an organization.

Required Reading: Marconi, Joe. Public Relations: The Complete Guide. Mason, OH: South-Western, a division of Thompson, 2004. ISBN: 0-324-20304-7 Breakenridge, Deirdre. The New Public Relations Toolkit: Strategies for Successful Media Relations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Financial Times Prentice Hall, 2003. ISBN: 0-13-009025-5 Other readings as provided by the instructor

Course Format: The key to success in this course is preparation and active participation. Read each assignment thoroughly and come to class prepared to discuss what you have read. Active and thoughtful participation is required for successful completion of the course. Since participation is impossible if you are not present, attendance will affect your grade. Late assignments lose one letter grade per class session.

Grades: A = 100-94; A- = 93-90; B+ = 89-87; B = 86-84; B- = 83-80; C+ = 79-77; C = 76-74; C- = 73-70; D+ = 69-67; D = 66-60; F = 59-0 NOTE: More than three absences will result in a grade of F.

Calculation of Grades: Grades will be calculated as follows: Class Assignments/Participation: 25% Mid-Term Exam: 25%

Team Project: Final Exam:

25% 25%

Class Assignments/Participation: Weekly readings and assignments/reaction papers will include such activities as gathering public relations materials and information from both public institutions and private organizations, demonstrating awareness of various communication media, and evaluating the effectiveness of communication strategies employed by a variety of public and private organizations. Reaction papers are one to two pages in length. Students are to demonstrate their understanding of the assigned topic and then offer their own insights and/or critique. To write a successful reaction paper, a student will draw on knowledge of readings and lectures to answer in the in-class exercises. Therefore, it is important to keep up with all of the readings listed in the course syllabus on the day they are assigned. Participation in the form of meaningful verbal contribution to the class session is encouraged during class discussions. Mid-Term Exam: The exams contain true-false and multiple-choice questions along with short-answer essays. Examinations cover information from both lectures and the readings. Therefore, to be successful on the exams, it is essential to attend all lectures and to do all the readings. Team Project: Each student will work as a member of a team that produces and presents a communication plan, complete with rationale for all strategies included, for a public institution. Projects will be graded in terms of individual participation as well as group participation. Final Exam: Open Book/Open Notes: Exam questions involve situations that must be analyzed in terms of the issues covered in class during the course of the semester and are designed to elicit a critical response from the student.

Policies: The atmosphere in this classroom is one that fosters intellectual development. All participants—faculty, students, and guest lecturers—are expected to be respectful of others’ comments and intellectual insights. To encourage this climate of respect for the ideas of others, all radios and cell phones should be turned off and not be used during class time. No newspapers will be read in class unless it is part of a class assignment. In terms of exams, each test is to be taken on the designated exam date. No make-ups are allowed except in the case of an extreme medical emergency. In the rare event that such an emergency does arise, it is the student’s responsibility to inform the professor prior to the exam time and to provide the professor with written documentation of the medical emergency (i.e. note from a certified physician). The same policy applies to class assignments (see section on Class Format).

Course Schedule Week/Topic 8/18 Course Introduction / Syllabus Readings for Next Week Marconi: Chapters 1 and 3 Breakenridge: Chapters 1, 2, and 3 Marconi: Chapters 2 and 4 Breakenridge: Chapters 4 and 5


What is a “Public”?


The Communication Plan Guest Speaker #1 Media, Image / Branding, Events

Marconi: Chapters 5, 6, and 7 Breakenridge: Chapter 10 Marconi: Chapters 8 and 9 Breakenridge: Chapters 6, 7, and 8



Employee Relations / E-Newsletters

Marconi: Chapters 10 and 11 Breakenridge: Chapters 9 and 12 Marconi: Chapter 14

9/22 Media


Mid-Term Exam

Marconi: Chapters 12 and 13 Breakenridge: Chapter 13


Cause Marketing / Privacy Issues / Ethics

Marconi: Chapter 15 Breakenridge: Chapter 11 Marconi: Chapter 16 Breakenridge: Chapter 5


Crisis Management Guest Speaker # 2

10/20 10/27

Research and Team Project Assignments Teams work on projects during class

Breakenridge: Chapters 14 and 15


Team Project Presentations Guest Speaker # 3 Team Project Presentations


11/ 17

Final Exam