Friday, May 12, 2006

Prepping a class

This year I'm teaching PR Administration, which is our management/case studies course, during Maymester-- an entire semester's material in 3.5 weeks. The class meets every day for three hours, so each day is like a week in a regular semester.

Needless to say, it's a challenge to figure out how to teach this class. Several years ago, I tried just applying my regular syllabus and schedule, but I killed myself by leading lecture/discussions for 3 hours at a time and killed the students by asking them to keep up on a week's worth reading when they're already in class for half a day (more if they registered for two classes). So this year I'm trying something entirely new.

I'm focusing the class around one giant case. I don't think anyone will be surprised that it's Wal-Mart. They're so huge they've got fingers in every pot and problems for every area of PR practice (community relations, crisis management, employee relations, B2B, multiculturalism, etc. etc. etc.-- and, yes, social media... hello, Edel-Mart). We're reading Fishman's The Wal-Mart Effect, which I will supplement with articles, Websites, and videos on both sides, and I've already thought of a couple of creative assignments like dividing the class in half to prepare two news conferences, one by labor, the other by Wal-Mart.

I'm open to suggestions, but class starts Tuesday so make it quick!

Dear Karen,
As your students study PR administration, please impress upon them that they will not be successful in this or any other PR discipline unless they master the ability to write professionally -- and that means taking more than a couple of writing courses before they get a degree.
Wal Mart's interest in organic food products would be a good element to include. Their power as a buyer could be used for good here - more organically raised food is better for the environment and animal welfare. But will they push for weaker standards to keep prices down, and what impact will that have?
On the topic of writing: don't worry, our students do quite a bit of it. They take a basic news writing class, followed by PR Communication, and they also have to write in other classes like Campaigns. We also encourage internships and volunteer work through the PRSSA chapter's nonprofit PR agency. I doubt if any of our graduates complain they didn't have a chance to do enough writing!
I think I may have stumbled into the right place. I am a recent college grad who focused her studies quite heavily on the liberal arts. The issue is that currently I am working as comunications coordinator for a small non-profit and have little experience with pr. My bosses want me to pitch 3 stories this year on our educational programing and I don't even know where to begin. So I am blowing through online articles for a clue and asking you for HELP!
Regina, if you send me ( your email address I will be happy to send back the slides from my PPT presentation on media relations and pitching. There are also some basic books on media and here's a link to a site on nonprofit PR:

Good luck!
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"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given" --Bertrand Russell

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