(Note: There is something wonky going on with the formatting here, and I can’t figure it out. I’m sure it has something to do with the CSS.)
Last semester, students in my Public Relations Campaigns class were responsible for maintaining a class blog on trends and issues in PR. The main goal of the assignment was to allow them to get their feet wet in social media, encourage them to read a variety of PR blogs, gain experience writing in a format unfamiliar to most of the students, and provide a forum in which they could discuss professional topics. I taught two sections of the course, and each section was broken into teams for their larger client projects. Teams from both sections contributed to the blog, which was also a way for them to interact amongst themselves despite being in different classes.
I didn’t provide many guidelines for the assignment, since my main purpose was to get them writing, and I didn’t want us to get bogged down in rules. Teams were required to post once a week, and individual students to comment on at least two posts by other teams. They were required to include at least one link, preferably to a public relations blog, and to explain the significance of their chosen topic to public relations. That was basically it. As a result, the quality of the posts was uneven, but at the end of the semester most of the students noted that they had enjoyed the assignment and learned a lot from it.
Next semester, the assignment is going to change considerably. For one thing, we are in the process of creating a microsite for our PR program within the larger school web site, and the student blog will be featured content. This greater visibility means that readership is likely to be wider, bringing in casual visitors to the site, potential students, local practitioners, and others. Furthermore, due to recent curriculum changes, more students coming into the class are likely to have a basic understanding of the mechanics of blogging and some experience with maintaining at least a personal site. And finally, although I incorporated plenty of social media into the course last semester, this time around I want to make sure that SM practices are even more deeply embedded into the course content and assignments. Somewhat paradoxically, I’m convinced that doing so will help prevent some of the “have hammer, will find nail” effect that leads students to attempt to incorporate social media strategies and tactics into their campaigns in ways that don’t really suit the client’s goals and objectives.
Since I try to give very detailed explanations of my assignments, outlining both the purpose and my expectations, I’ve been working on the assignment sheet for the new and improved class blog. What better place to look for feedback than among fellow PR bloggers? Details of the assignment are tucked away below, and your input is welcome.
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