Faced with more tactics than I could fit into a class, I surveyed my winter students and discovered that most of them were especially interested in having a video assignment. I had wanted to try out a video assignment since my University of Georgia colleague Kaye Sweetser shared her video assignment, best practices for video, video secrets for success by PR innovator Paull Young and student examples.
Thanks to Kaye’s inspiration and student interest, below is the assignment I created.
You will work as part of a team to write a script and publicity plan for a video that lasts between one and three minutes.
The purpose of the video is to promote the study of public relations at the University of Oregon. The primary audience is high school students, particularly students who live in the Northwest and enjoy writing. The video has to be appropriate for parents and has to be a video that the University could use if you wanted to submit it for approval.
In the video, you will need to concisely establish
- What public relations is
- Why people should pursue it as a career
- Why people should study public relations at the University of Oregon
Remember to cite your sources and avoid using copyrighted material. The video has to be entertaining and informative.
Track A: Creating the Video
Write a script and publicity plan for the video. Shoot the video, edit it and submit a final version to me. With this track, you will take on one of the following roles. You will also support your team in the completion of their roles.
The producer manages the team, keeps the project on track, coordinates details for filming, recruits talent with the director and creates the publicity plan. In addition, this person obtains a video release waiver from all of the people who appear in the video.
Deliverables include the publicity plan and the schedule for the shooting, including time, talent and locations.
The director is responsible for directing talent and operating the camera. This person also recruits the talent with the producer. This person is responsible for the quality of the video. In addition, this person shares the editing workload with the editor.
The deliverable is the final video.
The writer conducts research and writes the conceptual idea. If the writer is an artist, a storyboard could be created as well. The writer also creates the script.
The deliverables include a summary of research and ideas that will be pitched to the team, in addition to the script.
The editor is responsible for editing the video and completing post-production. This person shares the workload with the director and gets final say over editing decisions. The end of the video needs to say something like “Produced as an assignment in a public relations class at the University of Oregon,” and it needs to include credits.
The deliverable for the editor is the final video.
Track A Points
This assignment is worth 15 points. Ten of the 15 points are based on the quality of your work. Everyone in the group receives the same score for the 10 points.
The remaining five points are based on your individual contributions to the group and your ability to work effectively with your team (e.g., by meeting deadlines, producing quality work, being fun to work with and keeping meetings on track). You will submit an evaluation of yourself and your teammates.
Track B: Pitching the Idea and Writing Another Tactic
Write a script and publicity plan for the video. Pitch the idea to me as a formal business presentation. With this track, there are no individual roles. Instead, you will work as a team to do the following things:
- Conduct research
- Create a fact sheet or memo that conveys your research
- Write the script
- Pitch your idea as part of a formal business presentation
- Produce a publicity plan
You will also work individually to create an additional tactic of your choice, such as a shareholder letter, fundraising letter or podcast.
Track B Points
This assignment is worth 15 points.
The research memo, script, presentation and pitch are worth 10 points. Five of the 10 points are based on the quality of your work. Everyone in the group receives the same score for the five points. The other five points are based on your ability to work effectively with your team (e.g., by meeting deadlines, producing quality work, being fun to work with and keeping meetings on track). You will submit an evaluation of yourself and your teammates.
The remaining five points are based on the additional tactic you produce, which is due on Tuesday, Feb. 22. If you choose track B, please add the tactic you’re producing to your course schedule as an assignment due on Feb. 22.
Memo Due Thursday, Jan. 6
Explain the track you would like to choose through a memo.
If you choose track A, list the four positions in your order of preference, beginning with the position you would like the most. Explain any relevant background you have (e.g., editing skills for the editor position, organization skills for the producer position).
If you choose track B, indicate which additional tactic you are interested in creating (e.g., fundraising letter, shareholder letter or podcast). You can change tactics later if you would like.
You can either apply as an individual, and I’ll place you on a team, or you can apply as a team. A team has four members. If you apply as a team for track A, each person should apply for a different role, and each team member’s memo should include a list of your teammates.
Below is the format for the memo.
To: Tiffany Gallicano
From: Your name
Date: Thursday, Jan. 6
Subject: Video assignment role
Single space your document and skip a line of space between paragraphs. Do not indent. Write short paragraphs like the ones used in this assignment description. The memo should be no longer than one page.
This memo counts towards your participation points.
Memo to Track B
When returning memos to track B students, I distributed the following memo to them:
To: Diva Designers (insert student group name)
From: Tiffany Gallicano
Date: Feb. 3, 2011
Re: Finalist for SOJC Video
Thank you for your response to our RFP. You have been selected as a finalist for the PR video project.
Please meet me at 2 p.m. in Allen 302 on Thursday, Feb. 17, for a presentation of your ideas.
Your presentation should include the following components:
- Situation analysis (why the video is needed)
- Purpose of the video
- Research that informed your ideas for the video
- Video concept
- Publicity plan
There will be a question and answer session following your presentation.
- Quality of content, including creativity
- Persuasive delivery, including effective use of visual aids
- Ability of agency to perform the proposed work
I brought in a guest speaker from the University of Oregon’s multimedia team to provide tips for shooting video. Here are a few of the most important tips for beginners by our expert speaker, Mike Majdic:
- Make sure each person in the video knows where to look. Mixing between looking at the interviewer and looking at the camera looks amateur. In most cases, you’ll want all people in the video to not look at the camera.
- Provide plenty of cushion for editing by pausing before and after questions.
- Talking heads is boring, so cut to footage during this time. There is nothing more interesting than people, so include people in the footage.
It was also valuable to spend a half hour watching and critiquing videos as a class. There are plenty of examples of university videos to critique on YouTube. We also discussed the importance of having a concept. Seeing the examples gave students ideas of what it means to have a concept for a video.
For the script, I had them follow the screenwriting template available here.
The students presented their videos to a panel of judges, including our communications director for UO’s School of Journalism and Communication, Andrea Kowalski, and the public relations faculty. Andrea surprised our students with free SOJC shirts after the presentation. Our director of Web Communications at UO, Zack Barnett, added both videos to our University of Oregon YouTube channel.
Below are the two videos my student teams created.
Director and writer: Jesse Davis,