Date: Wed, 6 Nov 1996 15:39:34 MST
                                        From: Renee Buchanan [RBUCHAN@ssb1.saff.utah.edu]

University of Utah
Dr. Julia Corbett
PR Case Studies and Corporate Video
Department of Communication, Spring '97

Description of Courses: PR Case Studies and Corporate Video will be team-taught to produce communication materials for four or five non-profit clients, including video and other written pieces deemed necessary through research and client assessment.

Criteria for Designation:

  1. Provides needed service: Non-profit organizations have a great need to communicate with their audiences, not only to rely program information but also to raise awareness of important social issues and raise money to address those issues. The resources for such communication, however, are often lacking. Numerous small non-profits exist with no designated communication staff position and little money for professionally produced communication materials. This team-taught service proposal would produce vital communication materials for four or five area non-profit organizations that they normally would not be able to produce. Corporate video in particular is beyond the reach of most non-profit budgets.
  2. Relates to subject matter: PR Case Studies typically discusses communication problems in textbook cases, relating organizational actions to communication theory. Instructors often incorporate local examples in class discussion or assignments, both by evaluating past action or planning future actions and campaigns. This service project win present campaigns and case studies in an applied, practical manner, and will relate other sequence course material, such as research, writing and graphics skills. Corporate Video has already been taught informally as a service learning course using professional clients. By team teaching the courses, clients will be assured that their corporate video fits into an integrated package of communication materials and that the package works cohesively to solve communication problems.
  3. Class methods relate to service experience: Working with professional clients will give students a realistic understanding not only of the production of a variety of communication materials, but also of the unique challenges faced by non-profits. Students will research audience awareness and knowledge of social issues before producing materials. Students will see first-hand the budget and time constraints faced by non-profits. And students will test the effectiveness of certain appeals in mobilizing, raising money, and communicating the mission of non-profits.
  4. Methods for assessing service: Assessment of the service experience will take place through class discussions and individual team reports to joint sessions of the classes regarding the intricacies of the social issues involved and the organization's efforts to participate in those issues.
  5. Recipients to be involved in the evaluation. The ultimate success of the class projects lies in their utilitarian value. Thus, the recipients become the final judges of the effectiveness of the materials produced by the classes. Assessments by the recipients are a necessary dimension of the evaluation process.
  6. Service opportunities are aimed at the development of civic education. Due to the nature of the activities in both classes, students must become very knowledgeable of the institutions' objectives and their missions of community service. Students' understanding of the institutions' civic responsibilities is a necessary step in developing the communication materials.
  7. Knowledge of the discipline informs the service experiences. The two courses involved are integral to the education of students in public relations and telecommunications within the Department of Communication. The opportunities to work with "clients" outside the university will further enhance the learning experience.
  8. Learning from other class members. Both classes are based on learning from team projects. Indeed, the materials that are ultimately produced can be generated only through cooperation and teamwork of the class members.

Purpose and Objectives: How did a toy company react when one of its toy guns was mistaken for a real gun in a shooting death" What did the apple industry do about consumer panic over the use of the chemical Alar? How did Exxon handle the Alaska oil spill crisis?

These are just some of the cases we will discuss in this case studies class. A case study approach applies the theory and principles you've learned about public relations to real world examples. By analyzing actual examples, you can see what the organization did wrong and right, and how you might have handled things differently. Some of the most exciting, practical and applicable lessons about public relations can be learned from this kind of approach. I teach case studies as a process for public relations problem-solving and campaign planning.

We will begin by learning open systems theory and its application. Next we'll develop a framework for examining various types of cases, both past and future. Attention also will be given to the use of research, programming, crisis situations and public relations campaigns.

Class sessions include lectures, discussions, group work and student presentations. I will give two short-answer quizzes on the reading material. Your final project will be a case study that you choose: the midterm case study will be provided for you.

Attendance. Participation, Philosophy:

Attendance is very important in this class; more than 3 absences will adversely affect your grade. I treat attendance like an employer treats attendance on the job. You are expected to be here every day for the entire class period; this is vital when you work in groups and others are depending on you. It's the easiest A you can earn!

Participation is also very important. Learning cannot take place solely through listening; ideas must be expressed, "tried out," discussed and refined before they become real and are remembered. You will have ample opportunity to express yourself, both in small group settings and before the class. I expect each and every student to "warm the air," not just warm a chair.

Much of my philosophy in teaching revolves around applying what you learn, the true test of knowledge. Five years from now you probably won't remember the textbook, but you might remember the group exercise on ethics or emergency media relations. My tests follow a similar principle; I won't ask you to memorize lists or regurgitate history. I will ask you to apply principles to new situations, to express and justify your opinion, or to compare approaches. Students tell me my tests and papers are challenging, primarily because they require them to think in a way often not required in courses.

Required Reading: Text: Center & Jackson, Public Relations Practices, 4th ed. Reserve readings: available in the library.