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Ten weeks seem to go by even more quickly with team teaching than with solo teaching. I would have liked for another 10 weeks to continue to work with my students. The quarter flew by. I enjoyed getting to partner with John Mitchell to team teach the class. Below are top student blog posts from the students who chose to have their work highlighted here. All students provided permission for the picture above.

For one of the blog posts, I asked students to summarize an academic journal article in public relations to

  • Exercise their research skills
  • Deepen their knowledge in an area that interests them
  • Give them experience with translating complex information, specifically with regard to scientific studies

One of the most interesting studies was described by Nicole Johnson. She summarizes a study by Mai Abdul Wahed Al Khaja and Pam Creedon, published in Public Relations Review, about tips for breast cancer awareness campaigns in the United Arab Emirates. The study shows the importance of conducting research to culturally adapt messages to audiences.

For another blog post, I asked students to write about how to engage a diverse audience of their choice to

  • Give them experience with conducting research about a particular audience
  • Help them see how they can use research about an audience to plan a campaign
  • Deepen their knowledge about communicating with a particular audience

Jayna Omaye wrote an insightful blog post titled “Fostering Diversity and Engaging with Hispanic Audiences.” She provides helpful tips and warns against generalizing to Hispanic audiences as a whole.

I also asked students to blog about an ethical issue in the public relations community. Martina Benova wrote an engaging blog post about ghost tweeting for athletes, and Cydni Anderson also wrote an insightful blog post about ghost tweeting. Both discussions include insightful secondary research. Cassie Bates discusses astroturfing and includes a recent case involving a response to an unflattering restaurant review.

I hope my class had a great spring break and is recharged for spring quarter.

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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.

Producer
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.

Director
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.

Writer
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.

Editor
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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If you are a teacher, you might be interested in using the assignment below that I just sent to my Mass Media and Society class. I have copied and pasted it into this blog. A big thank you goes to PBS for putting together a list of debate clips and interviews, in addition to a teacher’s guide.

I’d like you to see some key moments and issues in the presidential debates. This will also prepare you for the Rate the Debate 2008 event.

What did Dukakis do in 1988 that made him look like he was a cold candidate? Find out here: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/debatingourdestiny/1988.html

Watch until at least 4:50 in terms of the time. Dukakis looks like a Spock of our time during the debate; however, he explains himself in a behind-the-scenes interview with Jim Lehrer. While you watch this clip, think about the role of evaluating the personality of a candidate during a debate.

On the same video, watch from 7:26 to 9:24. Does style trump substance?

The next set of clips to watch is here: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/debatingourdestiny/1992.html

Watch until 3:40 to get some context for the debate. Then watch from 5:40 to 8:20.

This was the first town hall format for a debate. The debate we will be watching on Oct. 7 is in a town hall format. Especially pay attention to how the town hall was orchestrated from Bush’s perspective at the end of this clip.

Now, take a look at the issue of third party candidates. We’ll have a question about third party candidates at our Rate the Debate event. You can jump to 10:30 on the same video you’ve been watching. Watch until 22:11.

The clip is about the vice presidential candidates in the 1992 election: Dan Quayle (running with George H.W. Bush), Al Gore (running with Bill Clinton), and third party candidate James Stockdale (running with Ross Perot).

According to the Commission on Presidential Debates,”The CPD’s third criterion requires that the candidate have a level of support of at least 15% (fifteen percent) of the national electorate as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recent publicly-reported results at the time of the determination.”

Because Perot met the criteria, he and his running mate were included in the debates. This last clip (10:30 to 22:11) should give you an appreciation for the challenges of running for president when you are not on a major ticket.

See what George W. Bush has to say about who wins a debate: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/debatingourdestiny/2000.html

Watch from 3:53 to 5:20. Do you agree with Bush’s statement on who wins a debate? At the end of the clip, see how nonverbals hurt Gore’s performance. Karl Rove thinks it cost him the debate; of course, Karl Rove is a Republican strategist. Remember the Kennedy-Nixon debate clip we watched? Studies have shown that overall, people listening to the radio thought Nixon had won. People watching television thought Kennedy had won. Again, does style matter more than substance? Here is something you probably don’t know about the Kennedy-Nixon debate: Afterwards, a Kennedy supporter dressed up like a Nixon fan (wearing Nixon buttons) and said to Nixon after the debate, “You’ll win next time.”

By the way, I’d like you to memorize who Jim Lehrer is by his picture. He is a reporter from PBS, and he has moderated many debates. He has been the moderator and interviewer in most of the debates you just watched.

Once you finish watching the clips above, I invite you to head over to our class Facebook group for discussion. I have posed a question in the discussion section about style versus substance. This exercise is optional and encouraged: http://www.new.facebook.com/board.php?uid=37129393331

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