Purpose of the assignment
Public relations practitioners need to keep pace with the numerous, rapidly changing environments in which they operate. Many professionals and educators in the field find professional blogs to be an effective means of doing so. Other advantages of reading and/or actively participating in the professional blogosphere include opportunities to network with other professionals; establish and maintain a professional reputation with potential clients, employers, and peers; and identify niches for professional development.
This assignment gives students the opportunity to follow trends and issues in the public relations profession, as well as to apply the concepts learned in class..
What it consists of
Check the blogroll on the course web site and read a few sample entries from those that spark your interest. Choose one that you will follow throughout the semester, and let me know which one you have selected by commenting on this post. You may also suggest another blog that you would like to follow: comment on the same post with a link to the blog in question. If it is written by one or more public relations professionals or scholars and is relevant to the course, I will add it to the list.
More than one student may follow the same blog.
You will be expected to regularly monitor your chosen blog throughout the semester–consider yourself a sort of “beat reporter” covering that blog (and if the author has a Twitter account, I recommend that you follow it as well). Note that bloggers may post infrequently or stop posting altogether for a variety of reasons. If more than a week goes by without any posts, it is your responsibility to contact me immediately to discuss the possibility of changing to a more active blog. Since your reports must be based on recent posts, you will not be able to complete the assignment unless your blog is updated regularly. I read most of the blogs on the list, but it is not up to me to point out when you may be falling behind. Waiting until the last minute–a day or two before the report is due–to catch up on your blog is a practice that can lead to problems for this reason. I am unlikely to be sympathetic to requests to change a blog “beat” shortly before a deadline.
During class discussions, feel free to bring up relevant content you have read in your selected blog. You may also be called upon to summarize recent content, or relate it to the topic of the readings and/or lecture. As mentioned above, I am a habitual reader of most of the linked blogs. Be ready to discuss the content of your blog at any time.
The grade for this assignment is determined by the four written reports that you will submit during the course of the semester. The purpose of these reports is to:
- summarize the key topics covered by the blog during the most recent posts (or posts since the last report). What trends and issues in the profession did you learn about by reading this blog? What situations occurred that the blog author found worthy of discussion? You do not need to give summary information for every single post: focus on identifying trends and themes.
- relate the blog content to topics covered in class. For example, did any of the posts remind you of theories or concepts learned? Exemplify aspects of the profession that came up in readings, lectures, or discussions? Call into question claims made in class? What similarities or differences can you observe between the practice as described in class and your blogger’s own experiences or thoughts?
- reflect on the ways and degree to which reading this blog contributes to, changes, enhances, or even diminishes how you view public relations as a field of practice and/or study. Do you think of the profession differently based on what you’ve read? Has the blog helped you better understand certain aspects of the practice or study of PR–or, conversely, made you more confused or uncertain? This is the only portion of the report that should express your personal thoughts and opinions. Feel free to disagree with the blogger or with points made in class, or even to note things you don’t understand; the point of this part of the assignment is to allow you to process your own reactions to what you are reading and learning, so you will gain more from it by being honest than by pretending agreement or mastery.
Format and style
Blog reports must be typed and double-spaced, with 1” margins on all sides, and otherwise prepared according to APA style requirements. They must be between 1.5 and 2 pages in length. Your name, and the name and URL of the blog you are covering should appear in the header at the top of each page; pages should be numbered. Avoid direct quotes; paraphrase whenever possible. However, if you must quote, make sure to cite the specific post you are quoting using APA style.
Blog reports should be written in essay format and present a coherent argument. I recommend that you use section headers for the reporting, relating, and reflecting sections to help organize your essay and make sure you cover all of the required points, but it should not be written as a numbered list or set of bullet points.
Papers must be submitted electronically via Blackboard. Due dates are those indicated on the syllabus unless other notice is given (and the syllabus will be adjusted accordingly). Per the course policies, the assignments must be submitted by the beginning of class time on the stated dates; late penalties will begin to accrue immediately after that time.
Grading and points
Blog reports will be graded based on:
- accuracy, thoroughness and conciseness of descriptions;
- evidence of clear understanding of the public relations concepts, theories, and issues addressed in the course, and the ability to correctly identify them in the blog readings;
- critical thinking skills as evidenced in the relating and reflecting portions of the report;
- clarity of writing, proper grammar, spelling and punctuation, as well as adherence to APA style guidelines.
Blog reports will be worth a cumulative total of 10% of your grade for the semester.