About the class

Course objectives

Although public relations has its roots in journalism, it has become a field in its own right that requires a distinct skill set in addition to solid media expertise. The successful practitioner must understand and be able to operate effectively in a vast, changing array of organizational contexts, be adept at identifying and solving internal and external communication problems, and have a firm grasp of the strategic planning process and the relevant theories that inform it. This course is designed to introduce journalism students to fundamental public relations concepts, practices, and specializations.

By the end of the course, students will have a broad understanding of the history, present, and future of the public relations profession, and be familiar with the different types of roles played by in-house and agency practitioners. Readings, lectures, and class discussions will offer opportunities to explore the material, while written assignments and exams require students to synthesize and apply the concepts learned.

Students in this course will be able to:

  • describe the relationship between public relations and other media professions
  • trace the history of the profession
  • define and apply the fundamental theories and concepts used in public relations practice
  • knowledgeably discuss current issues and trends in the profession
  • navigate today’s expanded mediasphere and understand how various communication tools and channels fit into public relations practice
  • describe strategic planning process and how it is used professionally
  • effectively analyze a public relations case study
  • identify a range of roles and domains in public relations practice

Course requirements

Required texts

Broom, Glen M. (2009). Cutlip & Center’s Effective Public Relations, 10th ed. Upper Saddle River, NK: Prentice-Hall.

Godin, Seth (2008). Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. New York: Portfolio.

We will be using the above editions of these books in class. You are responsible for all content covered in the course; use a different (older) edition at your own risk.

Additional readings

From time to time you will also be required to read articles, case studies, and other materials for more in-depth understanding or to offer alternative perspectives. These additional readings will be made available online and/or through handouts. Online readings and posted articles are just as important as those from the textbook, and will be covered in quizzes, homework assignments, and exams.

Readings form the core of the course material, and you will be expected to have completed the assigned readings before class each week. Lectures and class discussions are not intended to summarize the readings, but to build on and enhance them. Just because material is not directly addressed in class doesn’t mean that it’s not an important part of the course. Quizzes and exams may cover material that is not directly covered in course lectures, as well as lecture content that is not included in the readings. If you have any questions about the readings, you can ask them in class, during office hours, or via Twitter using the #JMC310 hashtag.


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