module specification

MC4003 - Introduction to Public Relations (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Introduction to Public Relations
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 300
 
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Group Presentation 30%   Group presentation (15 minutes + 5 minutes for questions)
Coursework 30%   Individual Report (2500 words)
Unseen Examination 40%   Individual 2 hour examination
Running in 2018/19 No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module will develop an understanding of the role and purpose of Public Relations (PR) together with an appreciation of the societal context and global business environment within which PR operates.  From a practical perspective, it will also aim to develop students’ writing  skills with a specific focus on public relations copywriting.

The module provides an introduction to the breadth of written public relations material, such as press releases, articles, press notices and pitches, required to deliver public relations campaigns. The module also considers how the media interacts with public relations practitioners via written material and how the media goes on to use written contributions from the public relations sector.

Additionally, in recognition of the huge increase in global social media usage, the module will examine how this has resulted in an explosion of  user-generated content that is significantly influencing how PR is practiced in the 21stC.

Project/event management skills will also be considered within this PR context.  Delivery consists of 3-hour CCT using a combination of lectures (including guest speakers) seminars and industrial visits. Assessments comprise a group presentation, an individual coursework and an unseen exam.

Module aims

The module will promote various graduate attributes, in particular the application of knowledge; communicating and presenting (including inter-cultural communication); critical thinking and writing; reflective professional skills; project and event management; and business and political awareness  - together with  various other elements in the LMBS Skills Framework.

In response to  the changing nature of PR practice the module will:

  • Offer a perspective on the nature of the societal context  in which business  (and PR in particular) operates
  • Consider the practice of PR (including writing and wider communication skills, project/event management) and its role in meeting strategic communications objectives
  • Examine and analyse the various specialisms within PR practice as set out by the CIPR
  • Develop an understanding of the wide range of career options within public relations and more broadly, communications management.

Syllabus

• Definitions and scope of PR practice
• PR as a strategic management function;  PR’s relationship with Marketing & other corporate functions
• Societal and international business context within which strategic PR management operates
• Business and the importance of competitiveness in the global marketplace
• The role of media monitoring in anticipating / analysing emerging trends in business and society
• Role of PESTLE factors
• Importance of democracy and freedom of speech for ethical PR practice
• PR as issues management and the role of pressure groups
• Writing skills and broader communication skills
• Project/event management
• Management and organisation of the PR function
• Overview of key PR concepts and theories
• Specialist areas of PR practice and sectoral considerations
• Consideration of job descriptions for PR roles in contemporary advertisements
• Changing and emerging career opportunities in the different sectors of the PR profession.

Learning and teaching

Delivery consists of 3-hour CCT using a combination of lectures, normally 1.5 hours, (including guest speakers) and seminars, normally 1.5 hours and industrial visits. Alternatively and where appropriate 2 hour workshops will also be used for skills based activities and industrial visits.  Where 2 hours class contact is used for workshops the remaining hours will be devoted to drop-in surgeries and/or “on-line” surgery time.

The module will seek to exploit the University’s location in the heart of the PR profession’s highly London-centric positioning. The location of LMU facilitates these important aspects of the student learning experience.

In particular, guest speakers will be invited from various sectors of the economy and in addition, PR graduates from LMU will also be invited to discuss case studies of their work for clients/employers and their career paths to-date. 

Either as an integral part of the learning module or as a component part of it, visits will be arranged to London-based business and media premises. These aspects of the module are designed to encourage students to consider their roles as corporate citizens and as consumers of PR products and services.

In order to encourage students to begin to reflect as soon as possible on their career options, an action and experiential learning approach will be adopted to help students relate recent or current work experience to future plans and aspirations in the PR sector.  In this regard, the module tutor will work closely with LMU Careers Advisory colleagues to ensure that (from the outset of their studies) students use the full range of these University services to best advantage.  Students will also be advised to start to develop a personal portfolio of work on this and other modules for subsequent presentation of their skills to potential employers.

Videos and online case studies will frequently be used to stimulate discussion in seminars.  In the main, seminars will be student-led and a problem-based approach will be adopted.  The routine of daily media monitoring will be encouraged and tested informally by means of “spot” team quizzes in class.

Weblearn will be used for the dissemination of learning materials, for assessment briefs, and for regular updates by the tutor.  The timely provision of generic feedback following formative assessments will also be facilitated via Weblearn.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this module you will be able to:

1. Understand the nature of ethical PR; its role in a democratic society and within a broader communications scenario

2. Understand how PR relates to other strategic management functions

3. Explain the role of written inputs in the public relations process and the resulting outputs in media relations campaigns

4. Differentiate between news and feature writing and be able to write in both styles

5. Understand the different styles of writing for print, web and the specific style guides of individual publications

6. Contribute to a range of PR activities as defined in the appropriate level of the PRCA / PRET matrix.

7. Undertake an analysis of PESTLE factors for strategic PR planning purposes

Assessment strategy

Assessment strategy Learning
Outcomes
Skill Development
Group Presentations 1,2,3,4,5,6 Researching & analysing data (I) (P) (A); Academic writing/literacy (P) (A); Application of (formative) knowledge (P) (A);  Communicating orally & in writing (P) (A); Management of emotions (P) (A); Collaborating with others (P) (A); Digital literacy & IT skills (P); Commercial awareness including CSR (P).
Individual Portfolio of PR tasks 3,4,5,6 Report writing (P) (A); Academic writing & literacy (P) (A); Communicating orally and in writing (P) (A); Critical thinking & writing (P) (A); Enterprise skills including taking personal initiative (P) (A)
Exam (summative) 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 Application of (formative) knowledge (P) (A); Academic writing & literacy (P) (A); Communicating orally and in writing (P) (A); Critical thinking & writing (P) (A); Management of emotions (P) (A);

 

 

 

Strategy here is driven by the need for diverse, transparent and valid assessment modes and criteria.  Assessment design is also driven by the need to fulfil the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) stipulations as cited in its criteria for course approval.

The first - formative - assessment (a group presentation) is intended to introduce the members of the cohort to each other at an early stage, and to an appreciation of the fact that management is a team activity.  Students will also be invited to undertake informal peer-review of other students’ group presentations on a weekly basis and to make constructive recommendations for development.

The second - formative - assessment (an individual business report) introduces students to the skill of report writing (which features widely in many PR professional roles).  There will also be “spot” inter-group quizzes (not formally assessed) to enable students to monitor the effectiveness of the weekly media monitoring activities required for the assessment.

The third and final assessment is summative and comprises an examination.  PR activities are usually heavily time-constrained.  So, being able to produce work of a sound professional standard to a tight deadline is an important skill for a potential PRO to develop.  The examination fulfils those requirements here, and provides a sound stepping stone for subsequent modules.

 

Bibliography

Tench R & Yeomans L (2013) Exploring Public Relations 3rd edt FT Prentice Hall
Foster, J. 2008. Effective Writing Skills for Public Relations. London: Kogan Page/CIPR.
Wilcox, D. & Reber, B.H. 2013. Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques. London: Pearson Education.
Bardham N & Weaver C (2011) PR in Global Cultural Contexts Routledge
Brooks, Weatherston & Wilkinson (2011) The International Business Environment 2nd edt Prentice Hall Wilcox, Cameron, Reber & Shin (2010) Think Public Relations Pearson