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Digital Public Relations Syllabus


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Digital Public Relations (CMAT 445-001) syllabus Fall 2015

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Digital Public Relations Syllabus

  1. 1. Course Policies and Meeting Schedule: Fall 2015   CMAT 445-001—Digital PR | Dr. Agarwal ‘ Course Websites: [QR Code below]| @vinitaagarwal | My Classes Canvas Course Twitter Hashtag: #VASocialMediaPR _____________________________________________________________________________ Instructor Contact Information: Dr. Vinita Agarwal Assistant Professor of Communication Arts Office: Fulton Hall 272 Email: Office Hours: M 11:30AM –2:00PM & T/TR 12:30PM—1:45PM _____________________________________________________________________________ Prerequisite CMAT 344 with a grade of C or better. Course Description CMAT 445—Digital Public Relations. Designed for the advanced student, the course will teach theory and principles of digital communications management and its application in developing digital strategy, conducting analytic audience research to design messages and drive behavior, and selecting from a multitude of social media channels to achieve their goals as a digital communications consultant. Students who successfully complete the course will demonstrate a fundamental understanding of leveraging digital communication principles and data-driven audience insight to increase positive sentiment and create innovative social media programs. CMAT 445-001 is an enhanced elective course in the Fulton curriculum, requiring intensive study in any one area of speech or communication studies, ideally in the student’s track. All enhanced courses are offered as a 4-credit class to engage students more fully in the courses they take and provide students with a deeper and more active encounter with the subject at hand. This means that, besides in-class and online meeting/participation time, each credit hour requires 2—4 hours of out-of-class work per week (i.e., 4 credit hours = 8—16 hours of out-of-class work per week). In addition, an enhanced course requires an additional 45 hours of out-of-class work per semester (i.e., 3 additional out-of-class work hours per week for the semester). This calculates to a total of 11—19 hours of out-of-class work per week for a student in an enhanced course. Fall 2015: CMAT 445-001 – Digital Public Relations Tues/Thurs, 11:00AM—12:15PM | PH 248 Course Policies  
  2. 2. Course Policies and Meeting Schedule: Fall 2015   CMAT 445-001—Digital PR | Dr. Agarwal In addition, CMAT 445-001 is a web-enhanced course, i.e., scheduled class meetings are classroom-based and face-to-face, but some of the course content and assignments, as well as required or optional activities, are online and require basic proficiency with word processing software and online activities and an ability and willingness to navigate and learn Internet-based, online modalities (e.g., content management systems, social networks) or via mobile media apps (e.g., YouTube, EverNote, Skype, Wordpress). Learning Objectives The course presumes familiarity with basic social engagement etiquette and protocol on social networks. As an advanced seminar on digital PR for students who have successfully completed the pre-requisites, core curriculum, and electives in the field of public relations, the course provides students with the knowledge of ethical digital communication principles and advanced analytic inquiry. The course will also provide you with the ability to utilize this knowledge base in the design, implementation, and engagement with real-world audiences to achieve outlined objectives. Upon successful completion of the course, the student will be able to: a. Critically evaluate the digital communication principles of corporations, nonprofits, and advocacy groups among others to identify best practices b. Articulate meaningful research questions to guide their digital engagement goals c. Successfully create, implement, and manage your digital strategy d. Build strong professional relationships based on ethical principles with key audiences e. Proficiently utilize digital platforms to communicate, connect, and build community f. Utilize SMO to increase visibility across channels. Required Textbooks (Available through the Salisbury University Bookstore) Ø DiStasio, M. W., & Bortree, D. S. (Eds.) (2014). Ethical practice of social media in public relations. New York: Routledge. (Abbreviated: DB) Recommended Ø Goldstein, N. (Ed.). (2011). The Associated Press stylebook and briefing on media law. Fully revised and updated Ed. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books. Ø Luttrell, R. (2015). Social media: How to engage, share, and connect. New York: Rowman & Littlefield. Equipment Policy Extensive use of technology is expected. Having a smartphone (iOS or Android) is strongly recommended. Your ability to participate in a range of social media networks and make use of different tools as discussed in class is expected. You may use the Marantz audio flash recorder for audio recordings or video flip cameras for video recordings. These will be checked out (using your SU ID) from Media Services (Room 334, TETC, Hours: TR, 9 AM—11 PM, Fridays, 9 AM—5 PM and closed on Saturdays). This is available only for a day (late returns fined). Copyright Statement The content (lectures, assignments, handouts) are the property of the instructor and protected under copyright law. You may not publicly distribute or display or share my course materials or lecture notes without my written permission. Individual Work/ Teamwork You will have much freedom and control over your output this semester. However, with that, the course entails a great deal of individual responsibility. These will require you to engage with the many factors that impact your digital presence, engagement, and output in a creative, unique, yet consistent manner. Second, in simulating a PR environment, part of your grade will come from teamwork. Successfully navigating the responsibility of managing technologically-based deliverables
  3. 3. Course Policies and Meeting Schedule: Fall 2015   CMAT 445-001—Digital PR | Dr. Agarwal and delivering individual/partner/or team-based projects is part of the course skills you will gain competence and experience in through the semester. Attendance and Participation Attendance in class sessions through the semester is expected. Absences will negatively impact your grade. Please discuss with me in advance for any unique or special considerations that may impact your participation. If you must have a doctor’s appointment during class time, I will need to receive advance notice before the concerned class via email and see documentation during my office hours upon your return to class. Where allowed, you are responsible for coordinating and submitting make- up work with me within a week of your return to class in order to receive make-up credit. You should also monitor your grade for recording of out-of-schedule pre-arranged make-up credit. Similarly, for university or sports related responsibilities, please make arrangements with me in advance in order to receive credit for missed class work. If an unforeseen issue necessitates prolonged absence (i.e., greater than two missed weeks of class during the semester), evaluate your course standing and/or consider possible alternatives in a timely manner. This is particularly important if you are a senior and this is your final semester. As this is a digital PR course, professionalism with your course participants, colleagues, and target audiences is an important element of your contribution. Participation will obviously take many forms that will necessarily include, but also go beyond your in-person, face-to-face class engagement. Your creativity, enthusiasm, and contribution value on different platforms as well as frequency of engagement and resonance with your target audience will count toward participation. This includes, for example, responding to your class colleagues’ posts on your content as well as being responsive to other’s content via useful and relevant feedback. It also includes taking a proactive approach to your learning and being self-directed in critical application of learning content to your professional goals. You will enjoy near total freedom in tailoring your participation style and content to the context, the interaction, and the audience you choose. Correspondingly, you will in part be evaluated based on how successful you are in resonating with your target audience and engaging with them. Students are expected to have read the textbook and assigned readings before coming to class. The lectures will engage your preparation for the class and build upon aspects we discuss in depth from the day’s assigned content. Student contribution through insightful questions, examples connecting across previous lectures and readings, and sharing of external resources that enhances class discussion are highly encouraged and will count toward your class participation quality points. Course Ethos As advanced PR students, I will expect professional behavior standards corresponding to those expected of new hires in the industry. From my end, I will strive to provide each of you with the resources and guidance necessary to achieve the course objectives and toward your development as members of a globalized, cosmopolitan community of professionals. Do make use of my office hours and availability to assist you with your learning objectives. Your participation in this course indicates your commitment to gaining knowledge, to applying it in demonstrable ways, to demonstrating pride in your daily work, and to consistency of application. PR professionals work in team-based, networked environments. Thus the projects will push you to accomplish those challenges successfully. I am always available to guide, but I expect you to take the initiative to seek my help in a timely and professional manner. Any personal accommodations made during the semester will be at my discretion weighing individual circumstances against the principle of fairness and justice to other class members.
  4. 4. Course Policies and Meeting Schedule: Fall 2015   CMAT 445-001—Digital PR | Dr. Agarwal Deadlines, Late Policy, and Make-Ups Deadlines are critical for professional success in today’s work environments, and paramount for PR professionals. Here are a few general guidelines: ⇒ Monitor your grades. ⇒ All grade assignments will be taken as final one class period after the graded assignment has been entered on Grade book in My Classes. ⇒ Do not discuss grade-related matters at end of class or via email. Please stop by my office to do so. ⇒ Where allowed, late assignments will be assessed a late penalty downgrading it by a letter grade for each class period it is late and will not be accepted after two class periods from the due date. ⇒ You are responsible for obtaining permissions (when allowed) or making up any missed work. Grading Policy I strive to enter your grades within a week of their submission. You are responsible for monitoring your grade on My Classes. All grades are considered final after one week of being returned to class. You have up to one week from the day grades are returned to you to bring any concern to my notice. Requests that bring up grade-related concerns more than a week old will not be reviewed. The review process assumes you accept the possibility the grades can be revised upward/downward upon review. I do not keep records of in-class assignments more than a week after grades are made available. In general, my grading is based on the following broad rule-of-thumb: “C” work meets the basic outlined criteria, “B” work does a great job of meeting the outlined criteria, and “A” work not only does an excellent job of meeting the outlined criteria, but also surpasses expectations to demonstrate innovative applications of the content that go beyond the outlined criteria. “D” work does not meet one of the basic criteria outlined for the assignment at an acceptable level, and “F” work is substandard and does not meet basic expectations on two or more of the outlined criteria. Community Engagement Ethos Your responsible conduct with community issues and or partners is expected and will constitute a notable part of your learning experience. As you represent Salisbury University on these projects, your professionalism and work ethos are paramount at all times. As the course simulates a real-world professional environment, as with any business partner, client, or team relationship, you should plan for and be ready to work around unanticipated factors in the course of successfully designing and implementing your goals or minimizing their negative impact on your desired outcomes. These could include, for example, unexpected changes to yours, your colleagues, or your community partners’ scheduling times, establishing communication channels that apply to your context, appropriate goal-setting, and working to manage stakeholder expectations satisfactorily. Through learning and implementing social media principles during the course of this project I expect you will be a responsible, proactive, and productive member of your team, class, and community. Support Services For trouble with your connection, access to the course website or the materials therein please contact IT at 410-677-5454, at TETC Room 113 or via email at Emergency Policy In the event of an emergency, announcements and information will be communicated via instructor email, My Classes course website, and SU’s home page. Course-related information will be updated by the instructor on My Classes and course website and via university email.
  5. 5. Course Policies and Meeting Schedule: Fall 2015   CMAT 445-001—Digital PR | Dr. Agarwal Office of Student Disability Support Services (OSDSS) The OSDSS provides guidance, access to resources, and accommodations for students with documented disabilities including: medical, psychiatric, and/or learning disabilities, and/or mobility, visual, and/or hearing impairments. They can be reached at 410-677-6536. Academic Integrity The CMAT department expects you have read and understand the University’s policy as described in the Student Policy on Academic Integrity in your SU Student Handbook ( and thereby agree to honor these standards. Academic dishonesty as a serious offense and ALL incidences are subject to disciplinary action including, but not limited to, separation from the university. Email Policy and Communication No in-class assignments or other submissions will be accepted via email or any other media. Approved make-up assignments must be submitted with attached documentation. You are responsible for monitoring your grade for make-up/late work. Any discrepancies should be brought to my attention within a week of their submission for correction failing which your grade will be considered final. If you need to reach me during out of class or office hours, please contact me via my Salisbury University email ( In general, I will strive to respond to your email within 48 hours of receipt (and by Monday, 5:00PM if sent over weekend). All course related communication will be via email sent from my SU account or through My Classes. Please monitor your email regularly for updates, information regarding readings and assignments, comments, and course-related work. Office Hours I will hold office hours on Monday between 11:30AM –2:00PM and on Tuesday/Thursday between 12:30PM—1:45PM p.m. Other hours may be arranged by appointment if and when needed. Assignment Description Through each of the following specially designed applications, you will apply the digital communication strategies and principles you will learn through the semester in a range of single, daily, weekly, or semester-long projects. Each project uniquely hones your knowledge into competencies that you can demonstrate to the seminar and professional community (and perhaps to the university community). Detailed instructions will be provided at appropriate times in the semester. ⇒ Hoot Suite Certification (25 points): Working individually, you will successfully complete the Hoot Suite Social Media certification. ⇒ Social Network Management (100 points): Designate yourself the PR digital consultant/ambassador for an issue, cause, or content area (e.g., climate change, yoga, mountain climbing, sports management, fitness, health, civic engagement) that connects with your daily activities or career track. Ideally it would combine both but it has to be something unique to you and that personally do (blog and Tweet), can talk knowledgeably about (e.g., in your podcasts), can do expert demonstrations (in your Vlogging), or can build a successful networking collaboration with for the semester (e.g., promote a local cause for a civic body/individual). Your networks are your tools to demonstrate your success as the PR brand ambassador for the goal you set yourself. Your semester- end portfolio will be showcased on the course website and are your professional demo for your employers. Excellent examples may also be showcased on related publicity materials (university, department, course etc. related). Essential networks you will employ include: o Twitter (Includes Vine)
  6. 6. Course Policies and Meeting Schedule: Fall 2015   CMAT 445-001—Digital PR | Dr. Agarwal o Blog (may include Vlogging via YouTube and Podcasting via Sound Cloud and Pinboards) o One network of your choice (e.g., Instagram) o Facebook page (optional) ⇒ Discussion Leader (25 points): One day each week one student will generate and lead discussion around the reading for the day [10 min]. The discussion leader will prepare questions, examples, conversation starters, and ideas around the reading. The course members come prepared with a question on the reading for the presenters and an illustrative case study. Only course members who are present in class for participation can earn these points. ⇒ Pop Quizzes (5 points each) and Exams: Can be a short answer, definition, or multiple choice. Can be given on any day, at the start or end of class. Lowest score will be dropped. These cannot be made up. More information on Exams closer to the date. These can be multiple choice, or essay type (short or long answer). ⇒ Lab work (10 points): Includes applications such as participation on Reddit, Infographs, YouTube among others. Although these will each be worth the same number of points, it is fair to expect that some days will naturally be more lab-intensive than others. All lab work scores you earn will count, but as a bonus offer, you have the ability to choose to double the points on any one of your lab work grade. You have to be in class the day of the lab to earn lab work points for that day for those occasions when the work is due the next class. Grade Breakdown A= 90.0% & above; B= 80.0%-89.0%; C= 70.0%-79.0%; D= 60.0%-69.0%; F= 59.0% & below v Important Semester Dates: Aug. 31—Dec. 11: Fall 2015 Session dates | Aug. 31: First day of classes| Aug. 31—Sept. 4: Add/drop| Sept. 7: Labor Day | Oct. 14th : Advising begins | Oct. 30: Last day to Withdraw with a grade of (W) | Nov. 16: Deadline for application for May 2016 or Aug. 2016 Graduation | Nov. 25—Nov. 27: Thanksgiving Break | Dec. 12: Reading day| Dec. 14—Dec. 18: Finals week| Dec. 19: Commencement Grading Assignment Total Points Ø Hoot Suite Certification 15% Ø Social Network Management 25% Ø Discussion Leader (DL) 15% Ø Pop Quizzes and Exams (DB) 15% Ø Lab Work 30%  
  7. 7. Course Policies and Meeting Schedule: Fall 2015   CMAT 445-001—Digital PR | Dr. Agarwal TENTATIVE SCHEDULE: Advanced Strategic Digital Communication Principles * Schedule May be Adjusted Based on Semester Progress (Check In-Class or My Classes Announcements) Meeting Readings Assignments (T) Sept. 1st (TR) Sept. 3rd WEEK # 1 Introductions, Syllabus PR AND DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS Ch. 1 (DB): Openness and Disclosure in Social Media Efforts: A Frank Discussion with Fortune 500 and Philanthropy 400 Communication Leaders Discuss Hoot Suite Certification (T) Sept. 8th (TR) Sept. 10th WEEK # 2 COMMUNICATING DIGITALLY Social Network Management: Getting Started! Social Network Management: Set Up Assign Social Network Management Assign Discussion Leader (T) Sept. 15th (TR) Sept. 17th WEEK # 3 STRATEGY IS KING Ch. 3 (DB): Bank of America’s Facebook Engagement Challenges its Claims of “High Ethical Standards” Facebook—Engaging via community involvement DL1 [Taylor] (T) Sept. 22nd (TR) Sept. 24th WEEK # 4 DIGITAL MEDIA RELATIONS Ch. 4 (DB): Natural or Not? A Case Study of Kashi’s Viral Photo Crisis on Facebook. Facebook—reputation management DL2 [Lauren M] (T) Sept. 29th (TR) Oct. 1st WEEK # 5 ENGAGE, CURATE! Ch. 6 (DB): To Tweet or Not to Tweet: An Analysis of Ethical Guidelines for the Social Media Engagement of Nonprofit Organizations Twitter—Engagement and Measurement DL3 [Karly] (T) Oct. 6th (TR) Oct. 8th WEEK # 6 IT’S A VISUAL WORLD: COMMUNICATING RESPONSIBILITY Ch. 7 (DB): Social Media as a CSR Communication Channel: The Current State of Practice Social networks: CSR DL4 [Hailey] (T) Oct. 13th (TR) Oct. 15th WEEK # 7 SPEAKING WITH MOVEMENT Ch. 8 (DB): Corporate Social Responsibility in Environmental Crisis: A Case Study of BP’s YouTube Response to the Deepwater Horizon Crisis Vine and Instagram video—Images and Framing Messages DL5 [Aliyah] [Stephanie]
  8. 8. Course Policies and Meeting Schedule: Fall 2015   CMAT 445-001—Digital PR | Dr. Agarwal (T) Oct. 20th (TR) Oct. 22nd WEEK # 8 REFLECT, REVIEW, AND REVISE Social Network Management: Individual Projects Social Network Management: Individual Projects (T) Oct. 27th (TR) Oct 29th WEEK # 9 FROM THE WATCHTOWER: ACTIVIST RELATIONS Ch. 9 (DB): Nestle and Greenpeace: The Battle in Social Media for Ethical Palm Sourcing Digital networks—Relationship Management Strategies DL6 [Logan] (T) Nov. 3rd (TR) Nov. 5th WEEK # 10 WATCHING ME WATCHING YOU: TRUST Ch. 10 (DB): Coca-Coal, Community, Diversity, and Cosmopolitanism: How Public Relations Builds Global Trust and Brand Relevance with Social Media Infographs—Content management and branding DL7 [Lauren B.] (T) Nov. 10th (TR) Nov. 12th WEEK # 11 LET’S TALK Ch. 11 (DB): The Dialogic Potential of Social Media: Assessing the Ethical Reasoning of Companies’ PR on FB and Twitter Individual Review DL8 [J Crew] (T) Nov. 17th (TR) Nov. 19th WEEK # 12 TRUST ME, WE MATTER Ch. 12 (DB): Journalists and Corporate Blogs: Identifying Markers of Credibility Presenting papers at NCA, Las Vegas, NV DL9 [Jeff] {Pat] No Class. (T) Nov. 24th (TR) Nov. 26th WEEK # 13 CAN WE COUNT THE LOVE Ch. 14 (DB): Government Gone Wild: Ethics, Reputation, and Social Media No class—Thanksgiving (Nov. 25—Nov. 27) DL10 [Ashley] Happy Thanksgiving! (T) Dec. 1st (TR) Dec. 3rd WEEK # 14 Drop-in Report Feedback Exam review (T) Dec. 8th (TR) Dec. 10th WEEK # 15 Exam Reflections *HS Certification | E-Portfolio hardcopy due Finals Week May 14—21 Wed, December 16th , 10:45AM—1:15PM Finals Day: Presentations