Public Relations Writing

Course Details

Course Number
MCOM 4673
Section Number
MCOM 4673
Spring 2016
Fain Fine Arts Center
Classroom Number
Days & Times

TR @ 9:30 – 10:50 a.m.

Liz Minden (view Profile)


Course Objectives

Information will be provided through lectures, in-class activities and materials from outside sources.  The course emphasizes the research and planning required for effective public relations writing, as well as professionalism in executing PR pieces.  Discussions and in-class exercises will focus on recognizing an organization’s public relations opportunities and how to communicate effectively with an organization’s audiences.
Through discussions, exercises and homework assignments, this course is designed to:
1. Provide an understanding of the importance of planning and developing public relations messages.
2. Help you make effective decisions in planning public relations messages.
3. Provide the skills for writing effective audience-specific public relations messages.
4. Integrate public relations theory with the skills you need to be an effective public relations writer and practitioner.
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 (total of 13% of grade)
Exercise Assignment Date
Fact Sheets February 18
Events March 10
News Releases April 7
TBA April 14
Newsletters May 3
       Assignment Due Date #  of Possible Pts.
Client Analysis February 4 50 (8%of grade)
       Fact Sheet February 25 25 (4% of grade)
Event Outline March 31 100 (17& of grade)
News Release April 21 50 (8% of grade)
Proposal (Draft) April 28 100 (17% of grade)
Proposal (Final) May 10 by 10 a.m. 200 (33% of grade)

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
a. DEADLINES:  All deadlines for homework assignments have been set to insure reasonable completion times. Students will be given ample notice of any changes in deadlines.  THE PR PROFESSION IS CALENDAR-DRIVEN; NO ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED AFTER THE CLASS PERIODS THEY ARE DUE.  Assignments will be accepted early, however.
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 and/or exceeding deadlines
(iv) Writing accuracy, clarity/readability, appropriateness to audience
(v) Content - complete and based on research information
**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.

Final Exam

05/10/2016 8 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Submission Format Policy

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 prepared for and participate in class.  The instructor reserves the right to drop any student from the course who misses more than three class periods.  Makeup work for any absence is at the discretion of the instructor.

Other Policies

1. Attendance:  Students are expected to attend, be prepared for and participate in class.  The instructor reserves the right to drop any student from the course who misses more than three class periods.  Makeup work for any absence is at the discretion of the instructor.
2. Academic Dishonesty: Plagiarism is: (1) using someone else’s source material (published or unpublished, including the Internet) without following accepted guidelines of giving credit; or (2) submitting work for credit that is not your own. THE INSTRUCTOR WILL TAKE APPROPRIATE DISCIPLINARY ACTION FOR STUDENTS CAUGHT CHEATING, PLAGIARIZING OR FABRICATING INFORMATION. The MSU Student Honor Creed in your student handbook and the university catalog reinforces this policy:  “As an MSU student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else to do so.” Plagiarism is lying, cheating and stealing. 
3. Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act: Any student with a disability who is registered with the MSU Office of Disability Support Services (940-397-4140, CSC Room 168) and needs specific accommodations, or requires other considerations because of a disability, should notify the instructor at the beginning of the semester to ensure that these accommodations are provided.
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/guardian, relatives or friends.  Additionally, the instructor will not discuss a student’s grades with him/her during class, over the phone or by email.  STUDENTS WHO HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THEIR GRADES MUST MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE INSTRUCTOR.
6. Disruptive Behavior:  Any student’s classroom behavior that interferes with either the instructor’s ability to conduct the class or other students’ ability to benefit from the instruction – or violates any other Standard of Conduct applicable to the classroom environment – will result in his/her removal from the class.  (See MSU Student Handbook, “Standards of Student Conduct.”). Please:
a. Turn off the sound on your cell phone during class.  No text messaging either. 
b. Turn off your iPods and similar technology. 
c. Be polite. 
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:  You may be asked to provide your assignments on a portable computer medium (e.g., jump/thumb drive). Do NOT email your assignments to the instructor without express written permission to do so.
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.  You must have a signed Mass Communication Department Equipment Agreement on file with the department if you wish card-key access to the computer lab, B124 in the Fain Fine Arts Center.
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