This project must be completed by noon Monday, May 12. This is an absolute deadline. You will give a brief presentation to the class that evening. Failure to complete the project will result in an “F” in the course, regardless of your point total at the end of the semester.
You will apply the skills you have learned and the tools you have used this semester to either a public relations or journalism project. This post describes the public relations option. See this separate post for a description of the journalism option. You may work alone or with a partner. (The requirements are greater for those who work in pairs.)
Selecting a focus: Select either a campus organization (but not PRSSA) or a local/regional organization or business that has news worth publicizing. The news should be recent (within the past few months or coming up in the next few months). The news may be an event, announcement, anniversary or other milestone, campaign, product launch, etc.
Social media release: Write a social media release publicizing the news. You may use the Pressitt website. Do NOT actually publish the release to the web. After you are done composing the release, save and preview it, print out a hard copy (as a backup in case there are problems with the website), and then close out of the website.
- Length: The main body of the release must be about 400 words, but the release also should include an overview, core facts, quotes, links, and, if possible, images (either original photos that you shot or images downloaded from the organization’s website or social media accounts) and/or a link to a YouTube video. Take advantage of the range of features of the social media release.
- Information: Make contact with the organization or business and do some research and reporting in order to write the release. Make sure all information is accurate. You may need to interview people to obtain real quotes. Avoid using made-up or “canned” quotes. Do not plagiarize an existing news release.
- Style and format: Use standard PR writing style. Portray your client in a favorable light, but don’t exaggerate. Assume you’re writing for a general audience that might not be very familiar with your client. Make the headline (title) informative, “tweetable” (try to keep it under 120 characters), and search engine optimized. Keep paragraphs and sentences short and succinct. Pay attention to spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Include relevant tags.
Pitch list and email: Create a list of at least five journalists, bloggers, or others in the media who have an online presence and would be suitable targets for your release. For each one, give (1) their name; (2) their title and news organization/employer (e.g., regional reporter, The Daily Planet) or the name of their blog; and (3) either their Twitter handle, email address, or the URL for their blog. Also, create a brief email pitch (one or two paragraphs) personally addressed to ONE of the five people on the list. The purpose of the pitch is to persuade the journalist or blogger to read the social media release and write a story or post. The email should be personalized to the individual and demonstrate that you care about them and their readers/viewers. Some sites that might help you write your pitch can be found here, here, and here.
Social media element(s): If you are working alone, create one social media element related to your client and the news you are publicizing. If you are working with a partner, create two social elements (each using a different social media tool) related to your client and the news you are publicizing. You may use social media tools that we are discussing this semester (such as Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Storify, and Google Maps) or be bold and use social media tools that we did not discuss. This is an opportunity to be creative, so I don’t want to give you a lot of rules, but here are a few general guidelines:
- The social media element(s) must be ORIGINAL content. For example, linking to someone else’s YouTube video or Facebook page does not count. You may link to outside sources within the social media release, but the social media elements must be your own. (Sites such as Storify and Pinterest count as original content as long as you are not merely “aggregating” the work of others but “curating” it and adding your own comments and perspective.)
- The social media should be integral to the project, adding information and value. It should not merely repeat what is in the social media release. It should not be an afterthought or a “decoration.”
- The social media element(s) should be appropriate for the audience you’re trying to reach and the message you’re sending.
- I will be looking for effort, initiative, and creativity. For example, posting a single tweet doesn’t show any initiative. Posting a series of tweets shows more initiative. Live tweeting an event related to your client shows even more initiative. If you really want to be a rock star, you could use a hashtag and start a conversation. If your project generates some real buzz and gets “likes,” comments, etc., that would be awesome.
- I want you to create and post the social media element(s), but if there are technical or other reasons why that’s not possible, I may as an alternative allow you to submit a detailed proposal of what you would do. That proposal would need to contain the following five things: (1) a description of the objective you are trying to achieve with the use of the social media element, (2) the target audience for the social media element, (3) a description of the social media tool you would use and why it’s an appropriate choice, (4) some samples of what the posts/images/videos, etc. would contain, and (5) a description of how you would measure the success of the social media element in achieving its objective.
- I’d like you to make the social media element public, but if you need to “hide” it, most social media tools have ways to do that (private videos, protected tweets, password-protected blog posts, etc.). But I must be able to access it in order to grade it. I have created a private Facebook group and a private Google+ community for this class that you could use if your social media element involves Facebook or Google+. When submitting the assignment, provide any necessary links and other information so that I can access what you have created.
Caution about plagiarism and “double dipping”
Do not lift information from sources in print or on the web and try to pass it off as your own. Also, do not recycle something that you have already written or done elsewhere (such as for PR II, The Setonian, etc.). Doing either of these things may result in a zero on the assignment and an “F” in the course.
Submitting the assignment
Send an email to COJR3002@gmail.com no later than noon Monday, May 12, that lists all of the elements of your project and includes all necessary links and/or attachments. The deadline is absolute. There will be no extensions.
We will meet during our normal class time on Monday, May 12. You will give a short presentation (about 4 to 5 minutes) describing your client and the news contained in the social media release, as well as your usage of social media. You don’t need to use a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation, but you should put some thought into what you are going to say.
This project is worth 100 points: