Friday, December 08, 2006

PR Student Writing Portfolios

I've finished one of my classes for this semester, PR Communications, which is our writing class. I've been teaching it virtually every semester, sometimes twice in a semester, for so long now that I've really gotten bored with it. I tried something new this semester by switching up textbooks and adding a few new assignments (more here), but I'm still not satisfied with it.

Fortunately, I have a break from it next spring and summer, so by the time I have it again next fall I hope to have come up with an entirely new way of teaching it, based on having students develop a "first draft" of their professional portfolios. I haven't figured it all out yet, but I know that for their final project I want them to turn in a portfolio which can include things from class or from outside class, the best of what they've written so far in their careers.

I'm also thinking about ditching the textbook altogether and putting more effort into the course packet that I've been using as a supplement to the text. It includes examples of PR materials, many submitted by my former students now working in the field, and I have gotten many compliments on it in the past (including alums writing and asking if they can buy one even though they're out of school).

I would love to get suggestions from both PR students and professionals on the portfolio (what should be included, how to teach it, what is most important to prospective employers) and on the packet and/or textbook adoption, so let me know what you think.

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I also teach PR writing and for the final project, my students find a small nonprofit client. They develop 4-6 pieces for that client based on the needs agreed upon between client and student.

This is a difficult project, but it always gets great reviews from the students, who often see their work used, and the clients, who appreciate the outside help.
 
I actually took a Public Relations Writing class like this when I was in college (100 years ago), taught by Steve Gladis. We each got a client (not necessarily non-profit), but we weren't allowed to get paid. When then developed a communications plan, a press release, a white paper, an ad, and a few others I can't remember. The idea is that we would leave the class with both experience and a portfolio. It was one of the best classes that I ever had in preparing me for my future career. I am actually still in touch with Steve if you want to talk to him about it. Let me know.
 
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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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