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Tel: 231-7295. Office hours:
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presents COMM 310 Syllabus
Advanced media writing/public relations to be featured
FARGO, N.D--An associate professor of communication at North Dakota State University here says his fall semester public relations writing class is designed to turn beginning students into excellent writers of promotional copy. Here are course objectives, according to Ross Collins:
* To understand
concepts of preparing messages for a variety of publics, through a variety
* To implement these concepts through a wide variety of public-relations style writing assignments;
* To reach the high professional writing standard professionals expect of advanced-level communication student work, including attention to technical aspects of media writing, such as grammar, spelling and style.
Collins explained the course in greater detail, as summarized below.
Newsom and Carrell, Public Relations Writing. Form and Style. Sixth edition, 2001. Sorry about the price.
Students should expect a midterm and a final. Included may be essay questions and writing exercises, as well as multiple choice.
Because the class emphasizes writing, many in-class assignments will complement more extensive out-of-class projects. The in-class assignments will be due at the end of the class period, to give writers a feeling of deadline pressure public relations practitioners often face. Specific topics are listed in the weekly schedule below.
I will not take attendance in this class, said Collins. I think students are adults who can decide for themselves whether or not they want to come to class. But I want to point out that my lectures wont just repeat what you can read in the text. Instead, Collins said he hopes to present added material, and cover some topics in greater detail. Collins also noted many writing assignments will be completed in class. If you miss class, you miss the deadline aspect, so you cant make up the work. Youll have to take an F on that assignment.
Collins agreed that sometimes a student must miss class for a good reason. Okay, Ill cut you a little slack, he said. If you happen to miss up to two in-class assignments, Ill drop the Fs from your final grade computation. Think of it as your bank account for emergencies. He emphasized, however, that the skip account doesnt include out-of-class assignments. Collins also may occasionally offer the class extra-credit opportunities.
Grading will be based on a standard point-count. Tentative highest possible point totals for this course:
Midterm: 200 pts.
Final: 250 pts.
In-class assignments: 300 pts.
Other projects: 250 pts.
Total: 1,000 pts.
The total number of points may change slightly, depending on the eventual number of assignments completed during the semester.
Letter grades will not be given during the semester, but students can calculate their grade anytime by finding their percentage as related to the total possible points. For instance, said Collins, a student has collected 427 points by midterm, out of a possible 500 so far. Divide 427 by 500 and the a result is .854, that is, about 85 percent. The grade so far is in the B range.
Work in this course must adhere to the NDSU Code of Academic Responsibility and Conduct. This addresses cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or facilitating dishonesty. Instructors have the right to respond to a students dishonesty by failing the student for the particular assignment or test, or even the entire course, or recommending the student drop the course. Note: If you need special accommodations for learning, please let the instructor know as soon as possible.
Introduction to writing for public relations. Read chapters 1 and 3.
Review of writing fundamentals. Writing news releases. Read chapters 5, 6, and 9.
Writing releases, cont. A new approach to getting started: clustering. Read chapter 4.
Writing public relations for broadcast: News releases and PSAs. Read chapter 10.
Press conferences. Backgrounders and position papers. Read chapter 8.
The media: how they work, how you work with them. Read chapter 2.
Writing for direct mail. Writing advertisements. Read chapter 13.
Writing for e-mail and the web. Read chapters 7 and 14. Midterm exam.
Writing features for public relations. Read chapter 11.
Writing for brochures and newsletters. Read chapters 17 and 18.
Photography and design. Read chapter 12.
Writing speeches and presentations. Read chapter 16.
Putting it together: media kits and campaigns. Read chapter 15.
Writing for magazines, catalogs, annual reports. Read chapter 19.
The law and PR, crisis communication. Read chapter 20.
Presentation of campaigns, wrap-up.
Final examination period.
For more information, check out the instructors favorite writing teachers:
William Zinsser, On Writing Well.
Barry Tarshis, How to Write Like a Pro.
Gabriele Lusser Rico, Writing the Natural Way.
William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, The Elements of Style. (any edition).