Purpose of the assignment
This assignment gives students the opportunity to synthesize and apply the concepts learned in this and previous coursework to analyze a real-world scenario. This scenario will illustrate through example the practical importance and implications of various roles and functions of public relations, as well as the steps of strategic planning. The analytical exercises will improve students’ understanding and ability to think critically about the public relations process, and their problem-solving skills. As a result of this assignment, students will be better able to understand, analyze and diagnose public relations problems and strategies.
Substance of the analysis
It is important to remember that the purpose of the case study analysis is to analyze and evaluate the strategic process evidenced in the case. This means that you will be constructing an argument about whether, and in what ways, the campaign was or was not effective. Do NOT simply describe the campaign or case. Limit descriptions to the summary section and the minimum information necessary to support your argument. Specific details will vary according to the case being analyzed. In general, however, your analysis should include the following:
- Summary. Briefly summarize the situation described in the case (no more than one paragraph).
- Research. What types of research were carried out (e.g., primary, secondary, qualitative, quantitative, etc.), and why? Which research methods (e.g., surveys, focus groups, content analysis, etc.) were used, and why? What stakeholder groups were identified? Were any possible avenues, methods or stakeholder relationships overlooked?
- Objectives. What objectives were formulated for the campaign? In this section, include only impact objectives–informational, attitudinal, and behavioral as applicable. Process (output) objectives, if any, should be included in the next section. Were these objectives appropriate to the situation? Why or why not?
- Programming. Briefly describe the programming tactics used to pursue the stated objectives. Include any themes or key messages, action strategies, and use of media (specifying controlled or uncontrolled). Which principles of communication are reflected in the programming choices? Are they appropriately chosen? Why or why not? Don’t base your argument on opinion, but use supporting evidence from the theories we have studied in class. You should be able to identify at least three theories or concepts relevant to the case study.
- Evaluation. What types of evaluation measures were used? Were all of the objectives measured appropriately? Why or why not? Was the timing of monitoring and/or post-campaign evaluation sufficient to give an effective measure of success? Can you suggest any other methods of evaluation?
Format and style
Case study analyses must be typed and double-spaced, with 1” margins on all sides, and otherwise prepared according to APA style requirements. No cover sheet is necessary. They must be no less than 2 and no more than 3 pages in length. The student’s name should appear in the header at the top of each page. All pages should be numbered. Any reference materials used beyond the textbook must be cited appropriately according to APA guidelines. Only cite your textbook if you are using direct quotes; however, it is preferable to synthesize in your own words. Do NOT repeat sentences or phrases from the case description in the book, as this counts as plagiarism.
Presentation is important in any professional setting, and will be considered in your grade (see below). Case study analyses should be written in essay format and present a coherent argument. You may use headers to identify the main sections of your analysis, but the case study should not be written as a numbered list or set of bullet points.
Papers must be submitted electronically via Blackboard by the deadline stated on the syllabus or announced in class.
Grading and points
The case study analysis will be graded based on:
- thoroughness and conciseness of descriptions
- comprehensiveness of analysis;
- evidence of clear understanding of public relations principles and issues, strategy development, and other concepts addressed in the course, and the ability to apply them to the scenario in question;
- critical thinking skills;
- clarity of writing, proper grammar, spelling and punctuation, as well as adherence to APA style guidelines.
The case study analysis will be worth 150 points, or 15% of your total grade for the semester.