Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

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.

Assignment Handout
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
  • Capabilities

There will be a question and answer session following your presentation.

Selection Criteria

  • Quality of content, including creativity
  • Persuasive delivery, including effective use of visual aids
  • Ability of agency to perform the proposed work

Video Instruction
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.

My students have also shared tips; here is a blog post about shooting quality video by Taylor Long, and here is a blog post about video interviewing tips by Jesse Davis.

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.

Final Product
Below are the two videos my student teams created.

Producer: Claire Tonneson, http://clairetonneson.wordpress.com, http://www.visualcv.com/pqqbhk1

Director and writer: Jesse Davis, http://jedavis13.wordpress.com, http://visualcv.com/users/237123-jesseleedavis/cvs/279473

Writer: Teeona Wilson, http://teeonawilson.wordpress.com, http://www.wix.com/teewilson08/trw

Editor: Taylor Long, http://tlong88.wordpress.com, http://www.visualcv.com/tlong88

Editor: Sarah Kirsch, http://sarahkirsch.wordpress.com, http://sarahkirsch.wordpress.com/portfolio

Producer: Liz Johnston, http://www.liz-john.moonfruit.com, http://thelegosofmylife.wordpress.com

Director: Shasta Smith, http://professionalswanted.wordpress.com, http://shastasmith.foliotek.me

Writer: Sarah Sullivan, http://sarahaasullivan.wordpress.com, http://www.wix.com/ssulliv1/sarahaasullivan

Editor: Stephen Hoshaw, http://learningpr.wordpress.com, http://www.visualcv.com/pu0j0p0

Editor: James Watkins, http://prprone.wordpress.com, http://www.visualcv.com/puo9290


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It's difficult to adequately proof without printing your work.

To prepare for success in a public relations job, it’s imperative to develop the ability to catch basic errors before submitting work to a boss. After all, how can a supervisor promote you if you can’t be trusted to adequately proof your work?

Examples of basic errors include missing words, quotation marks facing the wrong way, missing periods and spelling errors. These are errors that someone in junior high should be able to catch.

If your public relations professor penalizes harshly for typos, consider it tough love. As John Mitchell says, “I have zero tolerance for spelling errors…It’s tough love, but they’ll appreciate it later. Hear it all the time from the initiated.”

Grading rubric
In my writing classes, I grade work based on content, organization and writing mechanics, and I allow students to rewrite their work for an averaged grade. For the writing mechanics part, I apply the following rubric:

A: 1-3 minor errors

B: 4-7 minor errors

C: 8-11 errors, which could include one basic error (such as a spelling error)

D: 12-15 errors, which could include two basic errors

F: 16+ errors

Minor errors refer to mistakes such as comma placement and parallel structure.

I asked public relations practitioners on the #prprofs hashtag about how they penalize for typos.

  • Tina McCorkindale at Appalachian State University lowers a grade to a C for the first spelling error and lowers it to an F for the second spelling error; however, misspelling a client’s name is an automatic F. Deductions for grammar depend on the frequency of the problems.
  • Ginger Carter Miller at Georgia College deducts 10 percent for a spelling error and 2 percent for minor corrections.
  • Richard Waters at North Carolina State University takes off 10 points for a spelling error.

Other public relations professors, feel free to share how you treat typos.

Why catching basic errors is important
I posted a question about why proofing matters to my Facebook page and received insightful comments from former students.

“Aside from the fact that your writing represents you and your organization, spelling errors (and grammar/punctuation errors for that matter) are simply careless. And, I would bet that most people wouldn’t categorize themselves as careless. And, tell them to appreciate that you are correcting them now because if they accept it and actually learn from it, then they will be better off in the long run.

In the end, you want to become the person that others come to for reviews/edits of their work and be known as the one who writes things that never need edits.” — Michelle Betrock, publicist, the Food Network and Cooking Channel, New York.

“Attention to detail takes on a whole new meaning when you’re just starting out — and working to not only establish yourself as a professional but also to separate yourself from your peers. People — more importantly, bosses — take note and do remember.

Just like any habit, once it sticks, you’re set — and it only happens after repeated effort and being held to high standards time and time again. Your students may not like it NOW, but I can guarantee that they will be thanking you later, when the quality of their work sets them apart and brings them big rewards.” — Kristen Bothwell, senior account executive, Rubenstein Communications, New York.

How to catch basic errors

  1. Slowly proof a printed copy of your work, preferably the next day. Some people like reading aloud, and some people like to read in reverse order, from the last sentence to the first sentence.
  2. Don’t write in all CAPS when you are writing a headline because spell check does not check all caps words (tip from Michelle Betrock). You can always change words to all CAPS later if you need to do so by going to format and font and then checking the box for “all CAPS.”
  3. Have a friend read your work with fresh eyes to specifically proof for basic errors. In the professional world, this would be the equivalent of having a co-worker proof your work before you submit your work to a supervisor.

Michelle also offered the following advice:

“Tell your students to read ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves.’ Also, I always teach people to write AND edit ON PURPOSE. What I mean by that is this: Don’t just write something mindlessly and haphazardly; each time you type a letter, word, punctuation — be sure it’s the right one.”

Here are some resources for catching minor errors:

Readers, what are your favorite proofing tips? Public relations professors, feel free to also share how you penalize for basic errors.

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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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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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Edelman generously hosted a conference at New York University for public relations professors to explore recent case studies and trends in how digital media are transforming public relations practices. This conference was co-hosted by New York University and Syracuse University.

Many thanks goes to Edelman’s extraordinary event planners: Latraviette Smith, Caitlin Prentice, Terri Peterson and Christopher Contompasis, as well as the Syracuse University team, headed by Brenda Wrigley, who put together the teaching roundtable discussion.

Richard Edelman kicked off the conference with an engaging presentation titled “The Digital Reset: Communicating in an Era of Engagement.” I suggest watching this presentation online.

I’ve noted some fresh social media examples from the conference below.

Ben and Jerry’s asked people to create a new flavor. Facebook fans went from 300,000 to a million in a few weeks.

BlackBerry asked questions of fans on Facebook, such as what their ringtone was. A popular post asked users to put their devices on silent for a minute to observe Memorial Day.

RIM has five full-time staff – not enough people to respond to 27,000 daily tweets, so the team engages and rewards the most active fans.

During the roundtable teaching discussion, Hilary Fussell Sisco from Quinnipiac University shared a story about how TOMS Shoes used a facebook campaign to inspire fans to go barefoot for a day to raise awareness for others’ needs. (Also note that TOMS Shoes donates a pair of shoes for every pair purchased.)

Response to Fan Page Spam and Profanity
Sharpie experienced a problem and asked fans if spam and derogatory comments should be eliminated. Fans said yes, so the company has dedicated efforts to keeping the page clean. (Remember the importance of having a social media policy for explaining what will be deleted). The Facebook fan page has been growing by about a thousand fans a day.

Response to Sharply Mixed Product Reviews
(Disclosure: My brother-in-law works for Rubbermaid.) Rubbermaid has a storage container that keeps fruits and vegetables fresh for a longer period of time than they would otherwise stay fresh. The container received excellent and terrible reviews. The company realized that the people who posted bad reviews had not used the product correctly because they pre-washed the food. The company then contacted people who had posted the poor reviews and explained the reason why the storage container had not worked well.

During the teaching roundtable discussion, an author and professor from a leading university in Washington, D.C., told my group a story about a radio broadcaster who asked listeners to give the lowest ranking to his book on Amazon. The book was a sympathetic treatment of the sixties generation. The author and professor contacted Amazon and was able to get the ratings posted from that day removed because people didn’t appear to have read the book.

Additional blog post from the conference by Andrea Genevieve

One of the best parts of the conference was getting to catch up with colleagues and meet new people. There was an abundance of information at this conference — it would be great to hear one of your favorite take-home lessons in the comments section for those who attended.

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There are plenty of good reasons why students should publicly participate online. Although I strongly recommend public participation for reasons described by outstanding University of Oregon graduate Staci Stringer and University of Georgia professor Karen Russell, students should not be required to participate by their teachers, at least not in an identifiable way (see the bottom of this blog post for a discussion about alternatives). The following arguments apply to requirements to share one’s writing or identity online in an identifiable way.

1. Giving students control over their privacy and self-presentation is the right thing to do.
Students’ grades should not suffer from their preferences to avoid sharing their writing or identities online. We should not impose our ideas on others about what constitutes safe and comfortable participation online nor should we require others to follow our beliefs about where to draw the line on privacy. We can, however, share ideas about these topics as part of a conversation. Will students who want to be public relations practitioners be disadvantaged by not publicly participating in social media? Yes, as Staci and Karen have explained in detail. I suggest, however, that we present the arguments and let students make the decision for themselves for the reasons expressed in this blog post.

2. When students believe we are asking them to do something that violates their privacy, the relationship suffers.
Strong relationships are built on mutual understanding and respect. When students believe we are asking them to do something that violates their privacy, control mutuality (satisfaction with the amount of influence one has in the relationship) suffers. With required courses, students are coerced into publicly identifying themselves online or having their grades suffer. We do not know students’ histories and reasons for wanting to have a private identity. Simply wanting privacy is enough. In terms of the relationship argument, there would likely be more leeway in an elective course titled “Establishing Your Digital Footprint” that presented expectations on the syllabus because students have chosen to take the elective and there are alternatives they could take while still pursuing their intended majors.

3. Requiring identifiable public participation online is legally questionable.
I am basing this third argument on my untrained review of the law, Web site documents I’ve found by other universities, and two blog posts by a credible source (including mixed comments by her readers). With the qualification that I could be wrong, for now, it looks like requiring identifiable public participation online could be prohibited by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Exhibit A: Joann Golis wrote a blog post and a follow-up post about this topic. I find her to be a credible source because she wrote these blog posts in preparation for a workshop she was giving at Educause Learning Initiative’s annual meeting. In addition, she works for the Instructional Design and Development Department at DePaul University. I am reliant on speaker credibility because I am not an expert in this area.

In response to a blogging requirement scenario, Golis wrote

“Another land mine in this scenario is the fact that the blogs were not necessarily made private, so anyone could view them and associate the student’s name with the course they are taking and reveal that they are students in a particular course, term, and institution. Requiring the student’s name to appear on the front page is also a red flag.”

It should be acknowledged, however, that some comments to her first blog post indicate an opinion that identifiable blog posts are fine as long as an instructor does not comment on them. Even with these responses by other credible sources though, I return to the excerpt by Golis quoted above.

Exhibit B: A guide to FERPA by Auburn University suggests that requiring identifiable participation online could violate FERPA.

Scenario: “I want my students to create an account at a wiki/blog/similar webpage where they will complete tasks required for class.”

Auburn University response: “FERPA may be violated unless students are provided with anonymous computer aliases and only faculty has the key to identify students by their aliases.”

Exhibit C: A student disclosure form from North Carolina State University suggests that requiring students to have public blogs is a violation of FERPA.

“Under the Federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) and NC State’s FERPA regulation, a student’s education records are protected from disclosure to third parties. Because of the public nature of weblogs (blogs), students must provide written consent for blog participation in a course setting.”

Concluding Thoughts About the Legal Argument
Despite the legal questions, social media assignments should not end. There are alternatives we can share with students. As Michael Staton wrote:

“FERPA is in place to make sure that institutions are careful with and respectful of a student’s right to privacy, but it was not intended to hold back education in the 1990s before there were things like APIs and the social Web. No school has ever lost federal funds because of FERPA, which is the only punishment that can occur for being in violation (besides being tied up in a lawsuit). Privacy, security, and personal control over information is more than a valid concern, but let’s not let it be a brick wall of anxiety in the face of the march towards user-friendly, interoperable, and multitudinous educational solutions!”

I agree with this statement while insisting that we provide alternatives for students who choose privacy.

I am establishing the following alternatives to my assignments.

Blog: Give students the option of establishing a blog that is only visible to themselves. For the commenting requirement, provide the option of turning in the other person’s blog post with the comment they would write.

Electronic portfolio: Give students the option of hosting the electronic portfolio on a blog that is only visible to themselves. Students can use Google docs to host their work and only provide access to me.

Twitter: Give students the option of signing in and tweeting from a generic class account.

LinkedIn: Give students the option of submitting their resumes.

delicious: Let students complete a tagging assignment from a generic class account if they do not want to set up their own accounts.

PR Open Mic: Present a recent discussion forum topic or blog post topic from PR Open Mic and require students to write a response to it in Word (like a traditional assignment) if they do not want to set up a PR Open Mic profile and submit the response to the online discussion.

I will no longer require students to set up a Google Alert. Although it is not publicly identifiable, I don’t see that the requirement is justified. Students can learn enough for classroom requirements by watching my demonstration. They can sign up for their own account within minutes if they wish.

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With encouragement from Dawn Gilpin, I decided to introduce in-class tweeting to my class hashtag in my Media and Society class.

Below is a slidecast I shared with the Teaching Effectiveness Program at the University of Oregon about my experiences with using in-class tweeting. I discuss benefits of in-class tweeting and recommendations for presenting in-class tweeting to students.

As mentioned in the slidecast, I share a video with my students to open a discussion about Twitter and the importance of conversation. You can find the video I show here.

Additional Resources

50 Ways to Use Twitter in a Large Lecture Classroom

Tweeting in Class

Live Tweeting Makes Learning More Lively

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Our social media panelists: Alisa, Bill, Kaye, Kelli, Tiffany, Barbara

At the National Communication Association conference, I discussed a podcasting lesson, and Karen Russell suggested that I include the handout on my blog. Many thanks go to Karen for summarizing our panel. You can explore the blogs of my co-panelists and follow them on Twitter here:

The following discussion consists of talking points, information for structuring the podcasting lesson, an assignment, and step-by-step instructions for teaching yourself (and others) how to podcast. Ideas about podcasting expressed in this blog post come from an excellent book by Shel Holtz:

Holtz, S. (with N. Hobson). (2007). How to do everything with podcasting. New York: McGraw Hill. (Also see the companion Web site.)

My class reads excerpts from this book in preparation for class (with royalties paid through our course packet service, University Readers). My class reads pages 133-136 and pages 242-277.

Prior to the Lesson

  • Show students how to find and subscribe to podcasts through iTunes and other podcast directories.
  • Provide some recommendations of podcasts for them to try: Trafcom News, Inside PR, and Grammar Girl are popular selections.
  • Ask students to listen to a podcast and come to the next class with their opinions about it. You can decide whether to ask them to listen to a PR podcast (or even more narrowly, a PR podcast about podcasting). Ask students to jot down aspects they liked and suggestions for improvement to encourage them to complete the assignment.
  • Make sure you have good audio speakers for playing excerpts of podcasts in class. (I use some tiny portable speakers that I connect to my laptop.)
  • Decide how you will listen to their podcasts (e.g., on their blogs or on a CD). If you choose a CD, I suggest purchasing the CD labels and giving each student one sheet. They are responsible for purchasing CD labels on their own if they lose their sheet. I order CD labels from here.
  • Find out what your school’s options are for students who want to check out microphones (for students who do not have built-in microphones on their computers) and for students who want to check out digital audio recorders for interviews.
  • Download Audacity (which works on both PCs and Macs) and experiment using the technical instructions found toward the end of this blog post.

Opening Discussion
Do you listen to podcasts, excluding the class preparation for today?

  • Why or why not?
  • Which ones do you listen to?
  • What do you like and dislike about them?
  • How do you listen to them (e.g., subscription or from the computer)?
  • When do you listen to them (e.g., on the way to school, working out)?
  • How did you find them?

Which podcast did you listen to for homework? What did you like about it, and what your recommendations for improvement? Is this something you would listen to regularly? Why or why not?

Shared Social Media Rules

  • You are not selling products – your audience does not want to subscribe to ads.
  • You are delivering something of value to your audience.
  • You are encouraging a conversation by inviting comments and responding to them.
  • Your audience needs to be the kind that uses the kind of social media you are proposing.
  • You are starting with a public relations plan – one that includes goals, objectives, and strategies – social media are just tactics.

Discussion of How a Podcast Fits Into a Public Relations Plan
Provide students with an example of a goal, objective, and strategy that would fit well with the podcasting serving as the tactic. Holtz explains that podcasts can be used to

  • Engage audiences
  • Build brand loyalty
  • Establish thought leadership
  • Contribute to the community

Podcasting Advantages
As described by Holtz

  • The audience can multitask.
  • You can deliver specialized content to niche audiences that want to seek it out.
  • Hearing a human voice can encourage an emotional connection.
  • Through subscriptions, you can build a loyal following.
  • You can ask listeners for feedback.

Podcasting Examples
What are some examples of organizations that have used podcasts?

  • Disneyland used podcasts for its 50th anniversary. It exclusive content to listeners, such as interviews with people who designed the first Disneyland.
  • Purina: started with Animal Advice and expanded to include five other podcast shows, such as Snouts in Your Town (pet care tips and stories) and Puppy Care (a 14-month program).

For more details about these examples, see Holtz.

Application Exercise
In teams of four, select at least one organization and write a goal, objective, and strategy that would suggest using a podcast as a tactic. List the topics of the first four shows of the podcast. When writing your objective, remember that it must be measurable because that is how you will measure the success of your podcast.

Podcasting Tips

  • Keep the podcast conversational. Use an outline of talking points; do not read from a script. Talk to the audience as “you” – as if you’re having a one-on-one conversation.
  • Establish a regular structure for your podcasts.
  • To avoid podfading (going from frequently produced shows to rarely produced shows), establish how many episodes will be in the podcast. Position the podcast as a 10-epidode show, for example.
  • Unless you can edit your mistakes without the listener noticing, record your podcast in one take.
  • Show your own interest in the topic through your tone and by explaining why the content matters.


  • Introduction elements (in various order):
  • Theme music
  • The show’s name (include show number and date for subscribers)
  • The host’s name
  • Sponsors (if applicable)

This week’s topic:

  • Use transitions between points and provide a recap at the end

Potential close:

  • Respond to listeners’ questions and comments
  • Theme music
  • The show’s name
  • The host’s name
  • Next show
  • Special thanks
  • Farewell

Show Notes
Show notes are like a table of contents for the podcast. Use them to tell listeners what you’re covering and provide time codes so that listeners can jump to a particular section. Show notes also help people find you on search engines.

Play excerpts of podcasts for your class. I like this one by Trafcom News because Donna Papacosta discusses the importance of not reading a script for podcasts.

If you have extra time, I also suggest the Trafcom News interview with the person who does podcasts for Whirlpool to provide a grounded context.

Hosting/CD Production
I ask students to burn their podcasts to a CD, which I collect. Make sure to tell students that as practitioners, they can host podcasts on their Web sites, or they can use a hosting service. Libsyn packages start at $5 a month.


  • Tell everyone you know who you think would be interested. Other promotion ideas from Holtz include
  • Adding the URL to your e-mail signature.
  • Putting the URL on your business card.
  • Promoting the podcast and URL through the newsletter.
  • Registering the podcast with podcast directories (e.g., iTunes, Podcast Pickle, Yahoo! Podcasts).
  • Commenting on other people’s podcasts and blogs that attract similar audiences.

Technical Demonstration
I teach Audacity because it works on both PCs and Macintosh computers. I do not teach GarageBand, but I allow students to use it.

With students (preferably having them follow along on their computers):

  • Download Audacity.
  • Open Audacity.
  • Demonstrate how to record audio, listen to it, and edit it.
  • Ask students to do a quick recording, play it back, and edit part of it.
  • Demonstrate how to download royalty free audio and import it into Audacity and ask students to do the same.
  • Show students how to export podcast and compress it in iTunes and ask students to do the same.
  • Show students how to burn the podcast to a CD or upload it to a blog (however you will be collecting it for grading).
  • If using CDs for podcasts, show students how to create labels and consider giving each student a sheet of two CD labels.
  • Explain to students what their options are for checking out a microphone or digital recorder if needed.

The technical directions at the end of this blog post explain how to do all of the above items.

Assignment and Grading Rubric
Your assignment is to create a podcast about a public relations topic, such as relationship management. To help your content score, either interview someone or use several strong sources for your presentation.

To be eligible for an A, include brief introductory music. It must be royalty-free. You can download free music at http://www.partnersinrhyme.com/pir/free_music_loops.shtml or at http://www.royaltyfreemusic.com/free-music-clips.html, buy music from iTunes (search for “podcast music”), create your own music, or use GarageBand. Another optional element is to create your own podcast art in Illustrator, InDesign or Photoshop. When using music from Web sites like Partners in Rhyme and Royalty Free Music, you’ll need to credit the source through a Web site link from where you host your podcast.

Your podcast will be evaluated based on the content, organization, delivery and adherence to instructions. Your labeled podcast CD in a jacket and show notes are due on _________.

Points for content:

Points for organization:

Points for delivery:

Points for show notes and instructions:

Is music included (a requirement for an A):

Final score:

Final grade:

Podcast Technical Instructions and Show Notes
You will record an instructional podcast that is appropriate to your personal/business needs. Cite your sources in your podcast (e.g., “according to Jones”). You will also produce show notes.

  • The steps listed on this page are specific to a version of Audacity. If you do not see something in the location specified (such as where to import music), click on the other tabs until you see the option described.
  • Also, sometimes I want to select an option in Audacity, but the option appears in gray, so I cannot select it. If this happens to you, hit the stop button and then try your action again.

You can download Audacity at http://audacity.sourceforge.net.
Another option is to use RecordIt (Windows) or GarageBand (Macintosh).

The instructions below are based on the use of Audacity as your recording software. Some of the menu options for the instructions below may differ depending on the version of Audacity that you have.

Make an outline with topics you want to discuss. Click the record button. Have an introduction, body and conclusion. Organize your content (e.g., 10 ways to improve your writing). Record your entire podcast in one take.

If you stumble over your words during the podcast, pause, repeat your sentence and continue. Here is how to edit the mistake:
Expand the size of your screen if needed.

Select the vertical dumbbell and drag it over the mistake. You can click the play button before cutting. When you are ready to cut, hit delete. If this does not work, make sure the pause button is not pressed. Hit stop and try again. It is easiest to record your podcast in one take. Make sure your environment is silent. Do not rustle with papers.

If you decide to add royalty-free music to the beginning, go to “Project” and “Import Audio.” Select your file. Use the vertical dumbbell to edit. Lower the sound by dropping the “Gain.” You will need to listen to the balance between the music and your voice to determine the best music level. You can find the “Gain” by looking to the left of your audio. It has an arrow you can slide to the left. If you use music, highlight the beginning of the music, go to “Effect” and select “Fade out.” Highlight the end of the music, go to “Effect” and select “Fade in.” You will not want music to play during the middle of your podcast, so highlight the middle section, go to “Generate,” and select “Silence.”

Editing An Interview
When playing a back an interview, see if you have problems with your voice and your interviewee’s voice being different volumes. If this is a problem, download the levelator at http://www.conversationsnetwork.org/levelator and drop your podcast into it. See here for a visual demonstration: http://www.pixelheadsnetwork.com/2008/01/14/tdmd-daily-tip-podcast-36-useful-apps-levelator/. This will fix sound problems.

Creating a CD (or save to a jump drive)
When you finish editing, follow the instructions below:

Choose “File” and “Save” to save your recording.
Go to “File” and “Export as WAV.” Make sure to save the file to somewhere other than your Audacity folder, such as saving the file to your desktop.
Go to iTunes and drag your WAV file into your library or go to “File” and “Add to library.”

Go to “Advanced” and “Convert Your Selection to AAC.” This compresses the file. You are also welcome to convert your file to MP3 (under “iTunes,” select “Preferences,” “Advanced,” and “Import Using MP3.”

Once you have converted your podcast to an AAC or MP3 file, you can burn it to a CD. Make sure you burn the MP3 or AAC version rather than the WAV file. You can right click on your music file to see which version it is.

Once you have converted your podcast to an AAC or MP3 file, you can burn it to a CD.  Make sure that you burn the CD in a music player program like iTunes. Otherwise, the CD will record the file as a data file, not as an audio file, which means it won’t play in a CD player.

Creating the CD Label
In case you want to put your podcast on a CD, you can find CDs, CD labels, and CD jackets at an office supply store. Below are instructions for creating a label for Media Face labels. You can order them here: http://www.neato.com/product/PhotoMatte-CDDVD-Labels-100-Pack,85,12.htm

To create the CD label, go to http://www.mediaface.com. Create an account. To avoid having a watermark on your CD label, you need to enter a code when registering. The code is 077511999420.

Then go to the home page and select “CD/DVD Labels.” In the drop-down menu, search by SKU and select 863100. Click on the CD part of the image in the upper right corner. Then select “Templates & Layouts.” After designing your label, go to the “Preview & Print” tab in the right corner.

Make sure to not go to “file” and then “print.” Instead, scroll to the bottom of the screen and in the left-hand area, you’ll see a special print button. You might get a pop-up menu about calibrating the printer. That ensures that the printer lines up with the label, so make sure to do that if possible. You might want to test your printer with a regular piece of paper before inserting the label.

You are also welcome to create a CD label through software programs, such as InDesign, Photoshop or Word.

Burn your CD before adding the label. Burn your CD through iTunes. Do not simply drag the music file to the CD. If possible, print your CD label in color.

Creating Show Notes
Start with your title. If you have artwork, place it here. Describe your show and audience. Include at least four topics in a weekly show schedule. Add show notes and include at least three descriptions with the running time. Include all links mentioned in your podcast, as well as credits. Use parallel structure.

Uploading Your Podcast to Your Blog
If you would like to blog about your podcast experience, you should upload your podcast to your blog. You have about three gigabytes of space on WordPress. As long as you compress your podcast, you should be able to upload it.

You cannot embed your podcast into your WordPress account unless you have purchased an upgraded WordPress account. However, you can post it into blogger by using this code: <embed src=”Paste audio link here” width=”367″ height=”14″ autoplay=”false” loop=”true”></embed>

Podcast Directories
If you want to promote your podcast, you can link to it in the directories listed below.
•    Podcast Alley (www.podcastalley.com)
•    Odeo (www.odeo.com)
•    Podcast Pickle (www.podcastpickle.com)
•    Yahoo! Podcasts (http://podcasts.yahoo.com)
•    Apple iTunes Music Store (www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts)

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