COM 421: Public Relations Strategies
Spring 2011

Professor Tom Kelleher, Ph.D.
Meeting Times and Place Monday and Wednesday, Noon - 1:15 p.m.
Saunders Hall 637
Office Crawford Hall 321, 956-9944
Office Hours

Monday, 1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Thursday, 10:30 a.m. - Noon
By appointment.

Required Resources

Course Overview
Catalog description: Practice and effects of public relations. Strategic management, techniques, new communication technologies, diverse publics, ethics and social responsibility all will be emphasized.

In this course, you will learn the basics of public relations by studying public relations practices, history, theory, ethical values, case studies and current events. You will have the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the material covered in course activities and reading assignments through exams, written assignments, class discussions and presentations.

  1. Understand defining principles of public relations.
  2. Discuss history of the field and the role public relations plays in modern society. 
  3. Compare and contrast different career paths in public relations.
  4. Practice public relations writing.
  5. Demonstrate understanding of theories related to the practice of public relations.
  6. Identify strategic aspects of public relations programs.
  7. Critically evaluate public relations practices in terms of effects.
  8. Apply your own values to critically evaluate public relations practices in terms of ethics.
Your final grade will be based on exams, written assignments, in-class participation and attendance. For writing assignments, remember that effective professional writing requires careful attention to editing, so refine your work through several drafts. Number grades assigned for late assignments will be divided by two (e.g., a late paper graded 86 will yield a 43). Assignments turned in more than a week late will earn a zero.

Exams (2 X 30% = 60%)
Two major exams will cover material from class lectures, class discussion, guest speakers, handouts, and assigned readings. Exams may include multiple-choice, short-answer and essay questions. THERE ARE ABSOLUTELY NO MAKE-UP EXAMS without proper documentation for your absence, which must be provided before the absence if at all possible. A missed exam will count as a zero. Primary course objectives covered: 1, 2, 5, 6.

Office visit assignment (10%)
Details and a grading rubric are available online (see links) and will be discussed in class. Primary course objectives covered: 3, 6, 7, 8.

News release assignment (10%)
Details will be discussed in class and a grading rubric will be made available. Primary course objective covered: 4.

Participation (10%)
Contributions to in-class discussion are essential. At the end of the semester, your participation will be rated based on the following:

Primary course objectives covered: 2, 6, 7, 8.

Engaging in distracting behavior -- especially e-mail, phones, texting etc. -- will hurt your participation grade in the same way that being late will hurt your attendance grade (see next section). 

Attendance (10%)
In case of absence due to an emergency such as a death in your family or a serious illness, you must notify me and provide appropriate documentation within a week after first missing class. Excuses for planned absences must be given to me in writing and must be approved one week in advance of the missed class period. One unexcused absence is not a problem. Two unexcused absences will mean 9 points maximum for attendance for the semester, three unexcused absences will mean 8 points, etc. Being late (arriving after attendance is taken) or leaving early without an acceptable excuse or advanced approval will equal one tardy. Being late or leaving early twice will equal one unexcused absence. Primary course objectives covered: All.

Grading Weight*
Exam 1
Exam 2
News release assignment
Office visit assignment

Final Grade Requirements
A = 90-100% 
B = 80-89%
C = 70-79%
D = 60-69%
F = Below 60%

There will be absolutely no adjustment of grades on an individual basis (e.g., "I'm only one point away from a B, and I must get a B because I'm on probation.") Any requests to do so will be seen as an attempted breach of fairness to the rest of the class.

Guest Speakers 
Guest speakers will be invited to our class to discuss their perspectives on public relations. As with other in-class activities, missing class when we have guest speakers will mean missing a valuable resource for assignments and exams. 

Special Accommodations
Students requiring special accommodations must notify the instructor and present appropriate supporting documentation by the end of the second week of class.

Seeking Help
This course should provide a great learning experience for all of us. The success of the course depends largely on effective student-teacher interaction. Don't feel like you have to have a pressing problem to talk to me. I look forward to hearing your input. I am normally available during my office hours unless announced otherwise, and I'm also willing to set up an appointment if the office hours don't fit your schedule.

The phone number for the School of Communications is 956-8715. 

Academic Honesty
Academic dishonesty of any sort will not be tolerated. I take cheating issues very seriously. Please see me if you have any questions about academic honesty, and I'll be more than happy to discuss such issues before you complete your work.

Preliminary Class Timeline 
Please make a careful note of the exam and assignment dates. Make sure that you do not have any scheduling conflicts. The exam dates are very unlikely to change. Other topics and readings are subject to change, especially to accommodate current events and guest speaker schedules. Additional readings and assignments may be added as we go.
Class Days General Topics Assignments Due
Jan. 10, 12
  • Syllabus
  • What is PR?

Review syllabus by 1/10
Read CH 1 by 1/12

Jan. 19
  • History and evolution of public relations
Read CH 2 by 1/19
Jan. 24, 26
  • Ethics

Read CH 3 by 1/24

Jan. 31, Feb. 2

Read CH 4 by 1/31
Nathan Kam, McNeil Wilson Communications, on Mon., Jan. 31

Feb. 7, 9
  • Research

Read CH 5 by 2/7
Amy Hennessey, APR, and Shawn Nakamoto, APR, Hawaii Pacific Health, on Wed,. Feb 9.

Feb. 14, 16
  • Program planning

Read CH 6 by 2/14
Franklin Clay, Communications Pacific, on Wed., Feb 16

Feb. 23
  • Communication and messaging

Read CH 7 by 2/23

Feb. 28, March 2
  • Evaluation of public relations work

Read CH 8 by 2/28
Jocelyn Collado, Becker Communications, on Mon., Feb 28

March 7, 9
  • Review
  • Midterm exam
Midterm exam in class on 3/9
March 14, 16
  • Public opinion and persuasion
Read CH 9 by 3/14
Office visit appointments made by 3/16
Spring Break, March 21-25    
March 28, 30
  • News releases, media alerts, pitches
  • Discuss news release assignment
Read CH 14 by 3/28
Kristen Bonilla, APR, University of Hawaii System, on Mon., March 28
April 4, 6
  • Tactics for radio, TV and the Web

Read CH 15 by 4/4
Marichris Diga, Kimberly Seko and Rubin Carrillo, Liquid Planet Studios, on Wed., April 6

April 11, 13
  • Global public relations

Read CH 19 by 4/11
News release due 4/13

April 18, 20
  • Public relations, issues and crises
Read CH 10 by 4/18
Peter Rosegg, Hawaiian Electric Company, on Wed., April 20
April 25, 27
  • Public relations and the law
  • Student presentations

Read CH 12 by 4/25
Office visit/analysis presentations on 4/27

May 2, 4
  • Student presentations
  • Review

Office visit/analysis presentations on 5/2
Exam review on 5/4

Monday, May 9 (Noon - 2 p.m.)
  • Final Exam Period
Final exam on 5/9