J560 Media Relations and
Why: Every organization—big or small, for-
Crisis Communications profit or nonprofit, religious or secular,
private or public—must learn how to
Spring 2009 - Section 15365 communicate effectively with diverse publics
to thrive. In public relations we study how to
Instructor: Beth Wood communicate with an organization’s key
812/856-1088 publics to advance the organization’s
mission and goals. Media relations
comprises a big portion of that
communications task. In good times and in
Class meets: 11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m. crisis, public relations practitioners help
Mondays and Wednesdays organizations tell their stories. To be
Ernie Pyle Hall - Room 207 successful in communicating an
organization’s messages clearly,
Office Hours: Before or after any class practitioners must understand how the
or by appointment media work, what roles they play in society,
and how they define “news.”
Managing communications effectively in a
Who: This course is for graduate students crisis can make or break an organization’s
from any discipline who reputation. Crisis communication is
conducted in the larger context of crisis
1) wish to learn how to work effectively with management. Public relations practitioners
the media to communicate an organization’s must learn how to coordinate with others in
message to multiple audiences; the organization to communicate with
2) plan to manage organizations one day several publics—not just the media. Yet, the
and need to communicate complex issues media are important conduits for
to multiple audiences, including the media; disseminating information. Public relations
3) plan to manage or supervise the professionals are in the best position to
communications function one day for counsel their organizations about how to
organizations. communicate with media and other key
publics. This course will examine practices
What: This course will cover practical and policies that can help an organization
approaches to managing both media maintain its credibility with the media and
relations and crisis communications in an with other key publics in a crisis.
organization. Special emphasis will be
given to the strategic thinking necessary for How: The class will use a combination of
effective communications and to the ethics case studies, service learning, class
required for responsible advocacy. discussions, problem solving exercises,
media training, and site visits to learn how
Where: Most classes will be conducted in organizations work effectively with the
Ernie Pyle Hall--Room 207, but there will be media in good times and in crisis.
field trips to visit media relations and public
relations operations in the vicinity to allow So What? Students who complete the
students to see how the principles learned course should be able to work with the
in the course are applied in different media without fear and with an ability to
settings. communicate strategic messages clearly.
Students will understand how the media
When: Mondays and Wednesdays from work and what they need for their readers,
11:15 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. viewers, or listeners. Students will learn how
to identify potential crises, prepare for them,
and communicate about them with an •Study how different types of organizations
organization’s key publics, including the have handled crisis communications and
media. Through media training, students will learn from their wise and foolish choices.
learn the basics of how to be or to prepare
an organization’s spokesperson. •Understand what kinds of information an
organization’s diverse publics want in a
Course Objectives: Media Relations crisis; learn when and how best to provide
publics with what they need.
•Understand the roles of media in a
democratic society and what the media •Experience developing and implementing a
expect/need from news sources crisis communications plan with a team
•Appreciate the pressures and constraints •Experience the complexities of either
today’s reporters and editors face in acting as an organization’s spokesperson or
covering the news preparing someone else to be a
spokesperson for crisis situations.
•Learn how to build trusting relationships
with the media Texts and Required Reading:
•Gain an understanding of what constitutes The Confessions of an Ink-Stained Wretch:
news An Insider’s Secrets to Getting Press, by
John Persinos, Larstan Publishing, Inc.,
•Learn how to develop and deliver an 2006.
organization’s strategic messages to the
media On Deadline: Managing Media Relations, 4th
Edition, by Carole M. Howard and Wilma K.
• Prepare to use a range of channels in Matthews, Waveland Press, Inc., 2006.
addition to the traditional media for
communicating the organization’s Public Relations Practices: Managerial
messages Case Studies and Problems, 7th Edition, by
Allen H. Center et al., Pearson Education,
•Know how to make a case to an Inc., 2008.
organization’s decision makers on the value
and necessity for opening lines of A daily news source (a major daily
communications with the media newspaper, NPR morning/evening news,
national cable or network news program or
-Learn the ethics that govern responsible the program’s news website)
advocacy for public relations professionals.
Local news in the Bloomington Herald-
Course Objectives: Crisis Times and other local media as assigned.
Handouts and assigned reserve reading.
•Develop sound strategic thinking that will
help an organization identify potential crises Recommended Reading:
and prepare for them
The New Rules of Marketing & PR, by
•Learn how to work with an organization’s David Meerman Scott, John Wiley & Sons,
crisis management team to advocate for Inc., 2007.
forthright, honest communications with all
key publics, including the media Grading:
Get acquainted. Determine class
Final grades will be determined by: experience, abilities, and interests. Course
In-class exercises, individual writing overview. How does media relations fit into
assignments 40% public relations? What does crisis
Group assignment 20% communications entail?
Class participation 40%
Total 100% Role of media in society. How do the media
work? What do they value? What power do
Tentative Class and Assignment they have that affects organizations?
Schedule: Due: Student information sheet, to be
completed in class.
This schedule and the assignments listed Read: On Deadline, Chapter 1; Public
are subject to changes throughout the Relations Practices, Preface, Chapters 1
semester. This syllabus is just a guide. and 2; Confessions, Foreword and Chapter
Expect changes as the semester 1
progresses. Any changes will be
announced in class. You will be Week 2: (Jan. 19 and 21
responsible for knowing about and abiding NO CLASS Jan. 19—National holiday
by announced changes in the schedule or What’s news? Why should anyone care
assignments. about what you or your organization?
What do reporters and editors care about?
Field Trips—Dates and places TBD: How can you build credible, trusting
The field trips we take will depend upon the relationships with the media?
interests of the class. The point of making Read: Confessions, Chapter 2; On
trips is to find out how different types of Deadline, Chapters 3 and 5; Public
organizations handle media relations and Relations Practices, Chapter 7
Assignments: Week 3: (Jan. 26 and 28)
Industry trends affecting media and public
Most assignments in this class will be done relations. Who are today’s media and which
individually. One or two may be done in ones should you tap into?
groups. You’ll notice that participation is Guest speaker: TBA
40% of your grade. That means that you Read: On Deadline, Chapter 9;
will be expected to participate actively in Confessions, Chapters 7 and 9
Written assignments may include writing a
news release, short in-class papers to Week 4: (Feb. 2 and 4)
address specific issues raised by the Consider the source—what’s at stake for
readings, a media plan (a group project) for the organization and the media relations
a local agency, a standby statement with Q professional? What does a media relations
and A for a crisis situation, and a crisis plan professional need to do the job right?
for a group or organization identified by the Ethics guiding public relations and media
class. If class members can find 2 ½ hours professionals.
of uninterrupted time that works for Guest speaker: Bruce Hetrick, Hetrick
everyone, they will participate in a media Communications Inc. Feb. 4
spokesperson training session with a Read: On Deadline, Chapters 7and 12;
corporate counsel and media trainer. PRSA Code of Ethics; Public Relations
Practices, Chapter 10
Week 5: (Feb. 9 and 11)
Week 1: (Jan. 12 and 14)
Analysis of a government agency to Stories from the front. Possible guest
determine how best to establish the media speakers from organizations with high-
function within the organization. Will involve profile crises who will discuss how they
off-site field trip. handled or mishandled them.
FIELD TRIP, Feb. 11: Meet at Bloomington Guest speaker: Robert Gildea, Vice
Housing Authority, 1007 N.Summit, President, Sease Gerig & Associates
Bloomington. Read: Public Relations Practices, Chapters
Read: On Deadline, Chapter 2; 5 and 6
Confessions, Chapters 3, 4, 7;
Week 12: (March 30 and April 1)
Week 6: (Feb. 16 and 18) Trying to win public support--either to head
How to establish an effective media off or to ameliorate a crisis.
relations function for your organization. Read: Public Relations Practices, Chapter
How to build a media strategy for your 8; Confessions, Chapter 8
organization. How to establish a media
function within your organization.
How can you cope with the 24/7 news cycle
and the effects of new technology?
Nuts and bolts, tools and tactics for media Week 13: (April 6 and 8)
relations. Crafting the message. Preparing a crisis plan. How to work with
others in the organization to get the job
Week 7: (Feb. 23 and 25) done.
Working on a real plan.
Read: all handouts related to agency, Week 14: (April 13 and 15)
agency’s website, and all pertinent materials Constructing a standby statement and Q
in texts; On Deadline, Chapter 11 and A for a specific fact situation.
Week 8: (March 2 and 4)
Prepare a media policy and plan for the
government agency. Make writing Week 15: (April 20 and 22)
assignments for J349 Public Relations TBD
Writing class to execute.
FIELD TRIP, March 4: Class returns to Week 16: (April 27 and 29)
Bloomington Housing Authority to present TBD
Crisis Communications: You are always welcome to arrange a time
to see me that works with your schedule. If
Week 9: (March 9 and 11) you would like to talk with me about this
Defining crisis. Identifying key publics that course, the public relations profession, your
need information in a crisis; in-class course plan, or anything else, I encourage
problem analysis. you to call or send me an e-mail. Let’s set
Guest speaker: TBD up a time to talk.
Read: Public Relations Practices, Chapters
3, 4, 9; On Deadline, Chapter 6; The success of this course and its
usefulness to you depend in large part upon
Week 10: (March 16 and 18) your active participation. When you’re in
NO CLASSES…spring break this class, imagine that you are a public
relations executive who is responsible for
Week 11: (March 23 and 25) building and protecting the reputation of an
organization, idea, company, or person you
admire. Think about what questions you will be factored into your class participation
have as you represent that client. Ask grade. Promptness is expected, too.
questions, be willing to wade into gray Assignments cannot be made up without a
areas, think out loud on tough issues, and written excuse that can be verified. If you
figure out how the readings apply to the real know you will be absent for any reason, let
world. me know and be prepared to show me
evidence of the reason for the absence. If
You are preparing to enter the professional transportation is a problem for you when we
world, so I expect you to conduct yourself make off-campus trips, let me know and I
as a professional. This is the time to exhibit will arrange or provide a ride for you.
good work habits. What are good work
habits for a student? Here are a few: Be aware of the University’s policy that the
coming to class, being prompt, meeting grade “FN” can be given for students who
deadlines, paying attention in class, simply quit attending classes without
participating actively in class discussions, withdrawing. You can receive an “FN” even
having your assignments printed, stapled, if you have completed some of your class
and ready to submit at the beginning of assignments
class on the date due, reading the assigned
materials, being courteous to classmates, PR is a copy-quality business. Accuracy,
carrying your share of the load in group spelling, grammar, and overall presentation
projects, giving your full attention to guest will be evaluated as a part of your grade.
speakers, doing more than the minimum for Proofread assignments carefully. Do not
class assignments, and working for the rely on “spell check.” Make sure you are
grade you think you deserve. turning in your best work with each
assignment—no rough drafts.
Deadlines are important in public relations.
All due dates for assignments, once set, are No cell phone interruptions in class. If you
final. Late assignments will be penalized. If bring a phone, be sure it is turned off.
you are late with an assignment I reserve
the right to give you a lower grade for it or to Guest speakers will join us throughout the
refuse to accept it. As you prepare your semester to relate career experiences,
assignments, anticipate such difficulties as conduct specific training, and share
computer problems, faulty disks, etc. when professional tips and insights. Some of
preparing your assignments. The day an these discussions will be in the classroom
assignment is due you should be prepared and some will be at the speakers’ offices.
to hand it in at the beginning of that class. Your active participation in classes with
Have the assignment organized, printed, guest speakers is important and will be part
and stapled or bound. It is unprofessional to of your class participation grade.
submit an unfinished product on the due Remember that guest speakers are all
date or to ask for an extension because you potential employers. Also understand that
had “technical difficulties.” Excuses many of them give up billable time to take
translate into loss of reputation and the trip to Bloomington to appear before
business in the profession. you.
Attendance is expected. I will take No cheating. No plagiarism. Period.
attendance at each class. Your presence “Plagiarism is making use of words, ideas,
and active participation in the class are or any information from a source other than
important. Your ability to work effectively your own knowledge and experience
with your group, to understand the material, without giving proper credit to the source.
and to help your client depends upon your Not giving credit to such borrowed material
showing up. If you do not attend class, that
is plagiarism. Examples of actions that Principles of Public Relations—J321 and
constitute plagiarism are: J560
●Downloading a paper from the Web, Reporting, Writing, and Editing I
whether from a Web page or a paper Advertising Issues and Research
writing service. Public Relations Writing—J349 and J560
●Copying and pasting phrases, sentences, Public Relations Campaigns—J429 and
or paragraphs from someone else’s work J529
without showing the material as quoted and Public Relations for Nonprofits
without proper citation. Career Planning and Preparation
●Paraphrasing or summarizing someone
else’s words or ideas without proper Past Academic Positions
citation. Adjunct instructor, Indiana University School
●Using a graph, table, picture, or design of Journalism, Indianapolis, 1981-85.
from a source without proper citation.
●Getting someone else to write a paper for Professional Positions
you. Marketing Director, Barnes & Thornburg,
1996-2002; Congressional campaign
A good rule of thumb is that if the advisor, 1995-96; Director of Practice
information came from outside your own Development and family law practitioner;
head, cite the source. That’s true whether Krieg DeVault Alexander & Capehart,
you received the information from an 1988-1995; Corporate Communications
interview, the Web, a journal article, or a Associate, Eli Lilly and Company,
book.“ 1982-1988; Senior Staff Attorney,
Legislative Services Agency, 1979-1982;
--Source: Harris, Robert. A., Using Sources Corrections Director, Indiana Lawyers
Effectively: Strengthening Your Writing and Commission, 1975-1979; Assistant Director
Avoiding Plagiarism, Second Edition, of Public Information, Indiana Department of
Pyrczak Publishing, 2005,pp.13-16. Corrections, 1973-75. Columnist and
contributing editor for Indianapolis Weekly
All work must be your own or that of the Update, Indianapolis Magazine, and
members of your group for the final group Indianapolis Woman, 1984-1990.
project. Public relations is all about integrity Contributor, BLOOM magazine, 2007.
and your reputation. You cannot afford to
take unethical shortcuts here or in the
practice. Any form of academic dishonesty
in this class will result in an F either for the
assignment or the course, depending on the
severity of the misconduct. If one person
plagiarizes on the group project, it will affect
the grade of everyone in that group.
Instructor’s Credentials--Beth Wood
J.D., 1977, Indiana University School of Law
B. A., Journalism and French, Indiana
Courses Taught: Indiana University School