Purpose of the assignment
This assignment introduces students to two social media tools at the forefront of discussion in the public relations field: Twitter and FourSquare. The assignment will help students not only gain practical experience with both tools, but also to see how social media are interconnected, and how they can be used in the context of a public relations strategy. The analytical exercises will improve students’ understanding and ability to actively apply the principles of strategic planning learned in the course. Students will also interact with public relations professionals, learning to use social media tools for networking. As a result of this assignment, students will be better able to use social media effectively in public relations strategies and for their own professional development.
Part 1: Learning the tools
Those students who do not already have a Twitter account must create one at Twitter.com. The account must be publicly visible (unlocked), and should have a professional and easily identifiable name (in other words, it should be clear to me who is behind each account). The account must have a completed bio note identifying the student as a Cronkite major, and a photograph or other appropriate avatar. If students already have a Twitter account that they use for personal communication, they should consider creating a new account to develop their professional identity online.
Over the course of the assignment, students must:
- Follow at least 20 people, of whom at least 10 must be outside the Cronkite School. Preference should be given to public relations practitioners and scholars at all levels. Ideas for people to follow can be found by exploring lists, participating in professional networking conversations, and checking public relations blogs for Twitter IDs.
- Tweet! All of the tweets listed below should contain the #JMC310 hashtag so that they can be easily followed by classmates and others. Your tweets must include at least the following:
- First, send me a tweet (to @drgilpin) so that I can confirm that you are signed up and ready to go, and add you to the JMC310 list
- Engage in conversation by asking questions and interacting with those who respond, using the @mention format in at least 10 tweets.
- Share information by posting abbreviated links to at least 10 online items of interest to public relations students and/or professionals. These must be original tweets, and not retweeted links.
- Retweet at least 5 posts by people you follow. These should not be randomly chosen, but selected because of their usefulness and/or cleverness.
- Post at least 10 tweets of undirected, appropriate content.
- Create a Twitter list of resources related to public relations and media. Your list should include at least 15 sources/users.
- Subscribe to the class list I’ve created (@drgilpin/JMC310).
- Participate in at least one #PRStudchat conversation (Wednesday afternoons)
Students who do not already have a FourSquare account linked to their professional Twitter ID must create one at FourSquare.com. Send me a follow request, which I will accept (you are free to block me once the assignment is over). You are free to accept, ignore, or block other follow requests as you see fit, with the exceptions noted below. You may also freely choose whether to port your FourSquare check-ins to Twitter and/or Facebook, although I strongly recommend against it, particularly in the case of Twitter.
Over the course of the assignment, students must:
- Follow at least 10 other FourSquare users (these may be classmates, friends, or people you “meet” via FourSquare and feel comfortable adding as friends).
- Check in to at least 10 different locations. These may be restaurants, entertainment venues, school buildings, shops, or other venues. Dorms, student housing, apartment complexes, light rail stations, gas stations, or someone’s private home do NOT count toward the total location requirement, although you are free to check in at such places. All ASU campus buildings count toward the total, and in fact are encouraged (see below). If you do not have a mobile device or laptop, you should be able to check into places relatively close to your home or various campus buildings. Obviously you should only to check into places you have actually visited that day.
- Add tips to at least 10 of the venues where you check in. These tips should provide potentially useful information to other visitors. In particular, for venues on and near ASU campuses, think about information you would have found useful when you first arrived.
- Extra credit: 5 points for earning at least 5 badges; 10 points for earning a mayorship. Screenshot documentation required for mayorship extra credit, and multiples will not be awarded (thus you will not earn more extra credit for more than five badges or more than one mayorship). The top 5 tips will also be selected at the end of the exercise, and their authors will receive a maximum of 5 points extra credit.
Part 2: Reflection
For this part of the assignment, students will have the opportunity to reflect on their experiences with the social media tools used and relate them to course content. They will submit a brief write-up of no less than 2 and no more than 3 pages in length, describing their experiences, identifying applicable course concepts that describe where social media tools fit into the public relations profession, and considering how they might be used in a public relations strategy. The write-ups 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. 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.
Papers must be submitted via Blackboard before class on Thursday, September 30 unless otherwise directed.
Grading and points
The social media assignment will be graded based on:
- compliance with all instructions;
- active participation in the relevant social media activities for the duration of the assignment;
- creative and appropriate use of the social media tools;
- ability to relate the assignment to core concepts from class (strategic planning, theories);
- clarity of writing, proper grammar, spelling and punctuation, as well as adherence to APA style guidelines.
The social media assignment will be worth 15% of your total grade for the semester.