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Social Media Education Trend

Out: Requiring students to sign up for various social media accounts (e.g., Twitter, delicious, PR Open Mic, LinkedIn) and jump through required hoops for participation (e.g., friend this many people, tweet this many times).

In: Designing a flexible assignment that enables students to create their own social media plans.

Inspired by Karen Russell’s experiment, Donna Davis, Kelli Matthews and I decided to try something new in our J452 classes this winter: a choose your own adventure PR plan.

This project enables students to choose the learning activities that would be most meaningful to them. My version of the project is below. Educators, students and practitioners, your feedback and ideas are welcome. As with any first assignment, I’m confident that opportunities for improvement will be discovered as we go.

Personal Public Relations Plan and Report
You will create and implement a personal public relations plan that is tailored to your interests and then update the plan by putting it in the past tense and by reporting your results at the end of the quarter.

You will never be required to publicly participate on the Internet in our class. You can design private goals if you would like. Feel free to see me for help.

You only need to write one of each item, provided that your plan takes on a meaningful amount of growth. You will likely have multiple items in at least some of the areas.

The plan has to include at least one social media component, and it can include offline components as well.

Goals
The goal is a generalized statement that begins with the word “to.”

In the goal area, state what you would like to achieve.

Objectives
Each objective must reflect the following guidelines:

  • Specify one outcome (only tackle one outcome at a time)
  • Be measurable (will you realistically be able to measure the objective you have written when you get to the evaluation component of this plan?)
  • Be obtainable and a meaningful achievement
  • Refer to what will be done rather than how it will be done
  • Include a date by which the objective will be accomplished

The deadlines for your objectives can be any time between March 3 and four months after your graduation.

Strategies
Your strategies broadly explain how you plan to accomplish your objectives.

Tactics
The tactics explain the details of the strategies. Depending on your plan, you might want to consider these items:

  • delicious (enables you to save useful blog posts for quick reference prior to a job interview and as an employee, helps you position yourself as a content expert because you can quickly reference information on the topics important to you, helps you compensate for areas you don’t know as well by saving information you expect you’ll need as an employee)
  • Google Alert (notifies you of when your name is mentioned on the Internet, so you can listen and respond when people write about you)
  • Google Reader (allows you to subscribe to potential employers and thought leaders in PR, including experts in your area of specialization, and engage with them in conversation)
  • LinkedIn (expands your digital footprint, enables you to see if you have indirect connections to people you want to work for, so you can leverage your connections)
  • Twitter (expands your digital footprint, helps you position yourself as a content expert by listening to others and by tweeting regularly on a particular subject, allows you to network with potential employers by engaging in conversations with them and retweeting some of their tweets and blog posts, also helps you network by participating in relevant hashtags and live chats – specify which ones if you use this in your plan)
  • Blog posts (expands your digital footprint, helps you position yourself as a content expert by blogging regularly about a particular subject)
  • Blog comments (expands your digital footprint, drives traffic to your blog, enables you to network with industry leaders and potential employers)

We will cover these tactics prior to the deadline for the public relations plan.

Evaluation
Your evaluation section will address how you will measure whether you have achieved each objective.

If you set deadlines in your objectives that go longer than this quarter, include a section for short-term assessments that will be made by March 3.

Example: Personal Public Relations Plan

Goal (Loosely stated outcome)
To develop a specialization in conflict resolution.

Objectives (How you will measure your achievement of the outcome)
To write five blog posts about conflict resolution by March 3, 2011.
(This is an example of an output measurement because it’s a physical result.)

To give a presentation about conflict resolution by March 14, 2011.
(This is an example of an output measurement because it’s a physical result.)

For myself to believe that I have a solid understanding of conflict resolution by March 14, 2011.
(HT to Kelli for the outtake example. As Katie Paine explains in her “Measuring Public Relationships” book, an outtake is “how people think as a result of experiencing the outputs” (p. 3). An outcome measurement would be a behavioral result, such as having your resume personally delivered to HR by someone in the organization where you want to work.)

Strategies (How to achieve the objectives)
Conduct primary and secondary research about conflict resolution.

Tactics (Details for the strategies)
Read chapters from “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” by Fisher, Ury and Patton.

Read chapters from “Start With No: The Negotiating Tools That the Pros Don’t Want You to Know,” by Camp.

Read the chapter titled “Public Relations, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation” by Plowman in the book titled “The Future of Excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management” (pp. 85-102, edited by Toth).

Read “Hot Waste in Utah: Conflict in the Public Arena,” by Plowman in the academic journal titled “Journal of Public Relations Research” (volume 20, number four).

Interview a public relations practitioner who has experience with negotiating conflict.

Monitor the #conflict hashtag on Twitter at least weekly to identify cases to write about.

Read The New York Times and Drudge at least weekly to identify cases to write about.

Evaluation (How to measure whether you achieved your objectives)
This plan will be assessed by seeing whether I have written five blog posts about conflict resolution and whether I have delivered a presentation about conflict resolution. In addition, I will reflect about the extent to which I believe I have a solid understanding of conflict resolution.

This is just one example; feel free to design a different plan. Below are some other examples of goals:

  • To position myself online as a public relations practitioner with a specialization in conflict resolution. This example is more focused on a branded digital footprint than the example used previously.
  • To position myself for a public relations internship at an agency in the Northwest on the public affairs team. This type of goal could be measured in various ways, so the objective could be something like “To obtain two job interviews with Northwest agencies by May 1, 2011.” The strategies and tactics sections would then be more traditional than the example I wrote out.

Personal Public Relations Plan: Points and Deadlines
The plan is worth 10 points and is due on Thursday, Jan. 27. Type your plan in black 12-point font on a high-quality print setting.

Grading Criteria for Personal Public Relations Plan

  • How is the writing quality? Check grammar, punctuation, spelling, brevity and AP Style. I’ll follow the quantitative rubric in the syllabus.
  • Are the goals, objectives, strategies, tactics and evaluation developed according to the rules presented in this description?
  • Are the objectives meaningful and achievable?
  • Is there at least one social media component?

Personal Public Relations Plan Report: Points and Deadlines
The report (including implementation) is worth five points and is due at the beginning of your week 10 meeting with me.

Grading Criteria for Personal Public Relations Plan Report

  • How is the writing quality? Check grammar, punctuation, spelling, brevity and AP Style. I’ll follow the quantitative rubric in the syllabus.
  • Are the goals, objectives, strategies, tactics and evaluation still developed according to the rules presented in this handout?
  • Is the writing tense correct for the report?
  • Were the objectives achieved? The objectives need to be achieved for a perfect score.

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