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Public Relations Writing

Course Details

Course Number
Section Number
Spring 2014
Fain Fine Arts Center
Classroom Number
Days & Times

MWF @ 1 - 1:50 p.m.

Liz Minden (view Profile)
Course Objectives
Information will be provided through lectures, text and materials from outside sources.  Research and planning that are required in developing effective public relations writing skills will be emphasized.  Discussions and in-class exercises will focus on recognizing an organization’s PR opportunities and how to communicate effectively with an organization’s audiences.
Through discussions, exercises and homework assignments, this course is designed to:
1. Provide you with an understanding of the importance of planning and developing public relations messages.
2. Help you learn to make effective decisions in planning public relations messages.
3. Provide the skills for developing and writing effective public relations messages.
4. Integrate public relations theory with the skills you need to be an effective public relations writer.
Upon successful completion of this course you should be able to:
1. Identify and plan for an organization’s public relations opportunities.
2. Select the most appropriate channels and messages to communicate with an organization’s varied audiences, including the news media.
3. Write public relations messages for an organization’s audiences using several different formats and styles.
4. Apply public relations theory to a variety of public relations writing situations.
Course Expectations
1. FIVE IN-CLASS EXERCISES:  15 points each
Exercise Assignment Date
Fact Sheets Feb. 7
News Releases March 7
Newsletters April 4
Photos & Graphics April 11
TBA April 25
      Assignment #  of Possible Pts.
Client Selection & Notes – Due January 31- 50
Fact Sheet – Due February 21- 75
News Release – Due March 28- 100
Newsletter Mock-up – Due April 16- 100
Newsletter – Due May 5 by 5:30 p.m.- 200
Grading Standards
1. Late work will not be accepted.  A late assignment earns a zero for points.  
2. Fabricating information or using another’s work as your own earns you an “F” for the course.  (See “Course Policies” #2.)
3. Points will be deducted from homework assignments that have numerous grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors.
4. Homework assignments must be typed, double-space, on only one side of the paper.
5. The ability to make up any missed assignment is at the discretion of the instructor.
6. Numerical grades are awarded for each exercise and assignment.  To determine your grade for the course, exercise and assignment grades will be totaled and then divided by the total number of possible points to derive your percentage. The grading scale is: 
      A = 90% -100% of the total possible points
      B = 80% - 89% of the total possible points
      C = 70% - 79% of the total possible points
      D = 60% - 69% of the total possible points
      F = Less than 60% of the total possible points
**NOTE:  The instructor reserves the right to adjust or cancel assignments as the course progresses.  If for some reason assignments total somewhat more or fewer than the original number set for the course, the method of calculating the final grade will remain the same:  the total points a student achieves for all submitted assignments will be divided by the total possible points for all the assignments to obtain a percentage, and a grade will be assigned according to the percentage scale outlined on page two.
a. DEADLINES:  All deadlines for the homework assignments have been made to insure reasonable completion times.  You should plan accordingly.  Students will be given ample notice of any changes in deadlines.  SINCE THE PR PROFESSION IS CALENDAR-DRIVEN AND DEADLINES ARE IMPORTANT, NO ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED AFTER THE CLASS PERIODS IN WHICH THEY ARE DUE.
b. QUALITY:  Your homework assignments should be as nearly professional in quality as possible.  Basic grading criteria include, but are not limited to:
(i) Neatness; use of correct materials and logical format
(ii) Correct grammar, spelling and punctuation
(iii) Meeting deadlines
(iv) Writing accuracy, clarity/readability, appropriate to audience
(v) Content - complete and based on research information
Final Exam 05/05/2014
Submission Format Policy
Points will be deducted from homework assignments that have numerous grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors. Homework assignments must be typed, double-space, on only one side of the paper.

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.
Late Paper Policy

Late work will not be accepted.  A late assignment earns a zero for points.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

Attendance:  Students are expected to attend, be on time for and participate in class.  The instructor reserves the right to drop any student who misses more than three class periods.  Students who miss more than three class periods without verifiably good reasons will be dropped from this course.

Other Policies
1. Attendance:  Students are expected to attend, be on time for and participate in class.  The instructor reserves the right to drop any student who misses more than three class periods.  Students who miss more than three class periods without verifiably good reasons will be dropped from this course.
2. Plagiarism and cheating:  The MSU Student Honor Creed, found in both your student handbook and the university catalog, includes the statement:  “As an MSU student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else to do so.”  Plagiarism, lying and cheating include, but are not limited to:  fabricating information and sources, copying material from publications without crediting the author, turning in another student’s work as your own, and copying quiz/exam answers from another person.  STUDENTS FOUND CHEATING, PLAGIARIZING OR MAKING UP INFORMATION WILL RECEIVE AN “F” FOR THIS COURSE.
3. Compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act: Any student with a disability who is registered with the MSU Office of Disability Support Services should notify the instructor at the beginning of the course to ensure that alternatives may be found to provide the student with full class participation.
4. Limited Right:  By enrolling in this course, the student expressly grants MSU a “limited right” in all intellectual property created by the student for the purpose of this course. This “limited right” shall include, but shall not be limited to, the right to reproduce the student’s work product in order to verify originality and authenticity, and for educational purposes.
5. FERPA:  The instructor abides by the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.  The instructor also will not release a student’s academic information or discuss a student’s academic progress or class attendance with his/her parent or guardian.  Additionally, the instructor will not discuss a student’s grades with him/her in class, over the phone or by email.  STUDENTS WHO HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THEIR GRADES MUST MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE INSTRUCTOR.
6. Disruptive Behavior:  Anyone disrupting the class – or violating any other Standard of Conduct applicable to the classroom environment – will be dropped from the course.  (See MSU Student Handbook, “Standards of Student Conduct.”)
a. Turn off the sound on your cell phone during class.  No text messaging either.  If your phone rings or you’re found sending a text-message during class, you will be dropped from the course.
b. Turn off your iPods and similar technology.  Like ringing cell phones, this is a class disruption issue and you will be dropped from the course if you do not comply.
c. Be polite.  Discourtesy of any kind will not be tolerated.
7. Senior Portfolio:
Please note that all mass communication majors are required to submit a portfolio as part of their internship course, which is a pre-requisite for Senior Production. This requirement is a part of MSU’s reaccreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is non-negotiable. Through the portfolio, students are required to demonstrate communication competence through the written word and visual communication; two examples of each competency are required.
As you go through this and other classes, you are responsible for saving course work that could be included in your senior portfolio.
Please see your instructor, adviser, the department chair or any mass communication faculty member for handouts with more information (“Mass Communication Senior Portfolio Competencies” and “Mass Communication Senior Portfolio FAQ”).  These handouts are also available on the department web page:
8. Other:  
a. You may be asked to provide your assignments on a thumb/jump drive. Be sure to back up your work on such a device, just in case your computer crashes or you are asked to turn in your work this way.
b. Do not email your assignments to me. You are expected to print out and turn in hard copies of your assignments for this course. You may use the Mass Communication Department computer lab for this purpose. However, you must have a signed equipment agreement on file with the department if you wish card-key access to the lab.
BE AWARE THAT the instructor reserves the right to change any part of this syllabus for any reason, and will give sufficient notice if changes are necessary.
Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at