module specification

MC7075 - Public Relations Strategy & Planning (2020/21)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2020/21
Module title Public Relations Strategy & Planning
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 200
155 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Individual Presentation
Coursework 60%   Individual Reflection & PR Proposals
Running in 2020/21
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Thursday Morning

Module summary

The module is designed to provide students with the theoretical knowledge and key industry-standard skills needed to develop a successful career within the growing and dynamic public relations (PR) industry. It provides students with an opportunity to develop and improve their public relations campaign planning and management skills from a position of knowledge and clarity of objectives that a fundamental grasp of communications strategy should deliver.

Students will analyse and discuss how communications strategy is best served from a position of well informed and thorough research into a target market, combined with a solid grasp of the external (economic/political/social etc) and internal (management/systems/morale etc) environments faced by an organisation.

They will be supported and encouraged to conduct appropriate research to help them plan and design a communications plan for a real-world organisation, having first been taught and encouraged to further develop the fundamentals of campaign planning.

As part of this approach, students will also be introduced to contemporary communications theory and practice (both in-house and consultancy), with the expectation that they will examine how these have been recently impacted by new-technology, political upheaval, subsequent changes in consumer perception and disruptive trends in the global economy. Such an approach is geared to providing students with a greater awareness of the need for 21st century communications professionals to continue to analyse trends and predict their consequences with the aim of implementing planned programmes of action which will serve both the organisation’s and public interest.

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

The module aims to:

• Review critically the principal theories and models related to the study and practice of PR strategy and planning. 
• Broaden students’ understanding of the interface between PR, corporate communications and corporate strategy, and gain an appreciation of the strategic dimensions of PR campaign planning.
• Develop a critical understanding of the role of PR and its place in society today as well as the issues in the changing structure of PR industry in both a national and global context.
• Provide students with the skills to be able to undertake most of the tasks that an account executive would be expected to undertake in a PR office as defined by the CIPR.
• Provide independent learning, with transferable skills for future employability and for students to take a critical approach to the activity of PR.


This will cover the following:
• Principal concepts, theories and models related to the study and practice of PR strategy and planning
• The UK PR sector and in-house PR practice: an overview
• PR consultancy practice & management
• The relationship between PR, corporate communications & corporate strategy
• PR Strategy& Planning skills
• The modern media landscape
• The news agenda and its impact on journalists & news editors’ information needs
• The structure of news releases and other related owned content
• The impact of new media on PR practice
• Consumer PR
• Corporate Communications
• Social media & PR
• Evaluation of PR and digital media campaigns

Learning and teaching

This module will be delivered over a 15 week period and consists of 1-hour lecture and 2-hour interactive learning sessions each week. The 1-hour lecture will focus on defining and clarifying the theoretical principles and models of PR strategy and planning to the appropriate depth and breadth. The interactive learning/workshop sessions will consist of a combination of industry overviews, case studies, problem-based tasks and group discussions and presentations by guest speakers, as appropriate.
The factors driving the learning and teaching strategy for this module are the need for a compelling and realistic approach which will guide students’ development of employability in the specialist sectors of public relations. The learning and teaching strategy also considered the requirements of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ (CIPR) relating to “PR Practice,” as cited in the CIPR’s criteria for course recognition.
There will also be an agency element, where students will work in an agency format on a consumer PR project and then reflect on their own learning in undertaking PR projects.
The intention is to encourage a learning approach which will allow students to gain focus on identifying an area of public relations practice and theoretical perspective which they find mesh most closely with their own skills, experience and interests, in which they could use the module to enhance their employability for a role in that area of practice. The resulting personal portfolio of public relations practice and critical theoretical discussion is intended to provide students with a vehicle for demonstrating a combination of relevant theoretical knowledge and practical skills highly sought after by potential employers.
WebLearn will be used for the distribution of the module booklet, for setting online workshop exercises and for updates, commentary and pointers to articles on current PR practice which are appearing in the media as well academic journal articles related to PR strategy and planning. It will also be used to direct students to updated readings, module news and for the distribution of assessment information.

Learning outcomes

On completing the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the principal concepts and models of PR, and be able to select, apply and critique these within the context of campaign strategy and planning.
2. Develop a sound understanding of the role, context and purpose of PR strategy and planning within the framework of a variety of environmental settings and organisational contexts.
3.  Adopt an applied, problem-solving approach supported with relevant quantitative and qualitative data analysis and evaluation skills relevant to PR.
4. Develop a critical awareness of communications ethics and corporate social responsibility within the context of PR campaign planning.
5. Use high-level academic writing and public presentation skills in gathering, organising, editing and deploying relevant data and disseminating complex ideas using a variety of communicative media, including digital platforms.
6. Demonstrate competence in project management, and develop an ability to reflect on own learning in undertaking PR projects.

Assessment strategy

The assessment has been designed to test the achievement of the module’s learning outcomes and it requires students to think critically and apply the knowledge gained during the module.
The assessment strategy also considered the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ (CIPR) requirements related to assessment.

Individual Presentation
This will be based on a real world communications brief in partnership with the Accelerator. It will require evidence of weekly progress and awareness of the need to relate the topics studied to the needs of a specific organisation. This in itself will help develop student’s employability skills.

Individual portfolio

Students will be required to create an individual portfolio and personal statement to provide evidence of their competence to undertake the work-related learning activity as well as a critical theoretical discussion. They will also be required to reflect on their personal professional skills development through undertaking the professional tasks with a career action plan and submit an up-to-date CV which highlights the practical PR experience gained.

Assessment strategy Learning Outcomes Skill Development
Individual PR Communications

20 minutes individual presentation and supporting material (a presentation handout and supporting notes) (1,500 word limit for supporting notes)

1,2,3,4,5 Academic reading and writing (I,P,A), Analysing data, numeracy, commercial awareness (P,A); researching, application of knowledge and communicating/presenting orally (P,A); problem solving (P,A); creative skills (P,A); time management skills (P,A)
Individual PR campaign proposals, including a critical theoretical discussion   (written report format, 1,500 word count)

Employability Portfolio/Personal Statement (1000 words)

1,3,5,6 Academic reading (I,P,A); critical thinking and writing (P,A);researching and  analysing data (P,A); application of knowledge (P,A); being creative (P,A); commercial awareness (P,A); synthesis skills ( P,A)



Key texts

Christians, C., Fackler, M., Richardson, K., Kreshel, P., Woods, R. (2017) Media Ethics: Cases and Moral Reasoning, 10th Edition, Routledge.

Gregory, A., (2015) Planning and Managing Public Relations Campaigns. CIPR/Kogan Page.

Smith, R. (2017) Strategic Planning for Public Relations, 5th Edition, Routledge.

Tench, R and Yeomans, L (2013) Exploring Public Relations, Pearson (E-text available)

Watson, M and Noble, P. (2014) Evaluating Public Relations: A Guide to Planning, Research and Measurement, 3rd Edition, London: Kogan page.

Important texts:

Bland, M., Theaker, A.,and Wragg, D. (2009) Effective Media Relations. London: CIPR/Kogan Page.
Coombs, W.T. and Holladay, S.J (2009) PR strategy and Application: Managing Influence, John Wiley & Sons.

Cornelissen, J. Corporate Communications, (2013) 4th Edition, Sage Publications

Cees, B, Van Riel, Fombrun, J (2007) Essentials of Corporate Communications, Routledge (E-text available)

Cutlip, S, Center, A, Broom, G, (2012) Effective Public Relations, Pearson (E-text available)

Meerman Scott, D. The New Rules of Marketing & PR (2015) 5th Edition Wiley (E-text available)
Rogers, D. (2015), Campaigns the Shook the World: The Evolution of Public Relations, Kogan Page.

Other :
PR Week
The Economist
The Guardian (Media)
Media Week
The Media Show (BBC Radio 4)
Journal of Communications: Taylor & Francis