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Professor: Barbara B. Nixon, Ph.D. (ABD)

Office: MOD 6
Office Hours: Mondays & Wednesdays 9:30-2:30 or by appointment
Phone: 863-667-5052 or barbara.b.nixon on Skype
Twitter: BarbaraNixon


Southeastern, a dynamic, Christ-centered university, fosters student success by integrating

personal faith and higher learning. Within our loving Pentecostal community, we challenge
students to a lifetime of good work and of preparing professionally so they can creatively serve
their generation in the Spirit of Christ.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: A course designed to give practical experience in producing public

relations and advertising campaigns including press kits, press releases, ad design, copy,
newsletters and basic marketing.

COURSE OBJECTIVE: This course is intended to help students understand the various
techniques employed in managing a public relations communications program. Students
completing this course should be able to apply the various decision-making, writing, editing and
design techniques necessary to create a media program including communications ranging
from personal to mass, and from controlled to uncontrolled.

Wilcox, D. (2009). Public relations writing and media techniques (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson

A recent Associated Press Style Book, preferably 45th edition (it says 2010 on the cover), the AP
Style app for iPhone or iPad, or a subscription to the AP Stylebook online

Students will also need to subscribe to Ragan Communications’ PR Daily and to join Poynter’s


At least one USB drive (minimum 1G)

Pack of multi-color markers

See Tentative WEEKLY SCHEDULE (p. 8)

COMM 4333, Spring 2011, p. 1

350 points Written Assignments
300 points Blog
100 points NewsU Courses
100 points RATS & AP Style Quizzes
100 points Social Media News Release / Final Project
50 points Final Exam (There will be a comprehensive, BlackBoard-based, final exam.)

Total possible points 1000

WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS: Early in the semester, you will choose a client to write for. All
writing assignments will be geared toward this one client. Assignments may include:
several news releases, personality profile, public service announcement or broadcast
news release, fact sheet, photos with captions, media contact list and media advisory.
Assignment point values and specific guidelines will be further explained as the time
approaches. Rubrics for each assignment will be made available.

BLOG: Starting early in the semester, you will create original content for your blog; it will
be through this method that I will be able to assess your engagement and participation
in this course. You will add new content to your blog, including comments you post to
others’ blogs, weekly. Blog posts that are posted after their due dates may not be
graded or earn credit. There will be at least two graded Blog Checkpoints, plus a final
assessment of the blog. Citing sources in your blog is just as important as it is in any
academic paper you write; plagiarism is not tolerated. Specifics about the content of
your blog will be shared during the first month of class.

NEWS UNIVERSITY COURSES: You will sign up for a free NewsU account during the first
week of class. See the Tentative Weekly Schedule for course names and deadlines.
Course Reports are due during the assigned week; late course reports are not accepted
and will not earn any credit.

RATS: Expect one Readiness Assessment Test for every chapter we cover in your
textbook; these are conducted via the Assessments area in BlackBoard. Most RATS will
be based on material from your textbook, but there will also be AP Style and current
events questions on RATS. Unless stated otherwise, you will work individually and have
one hour to complete each open-book quiz. You can take each of the RATS twice, and
the higher of the two scores count. (NOTE: There will also be at least one closed-book
AP Style quiz that will be conducted in class.)

FINAL PROJECT: Your final project will consist of a social media news release for your
client, including text, audio, photo(s) and perhaps video. Details on this assignment will
be shared during the first month of class.

FINAL EXAM: There will be a comprehensive, BlackBoard-based, final exam.

COMM 4333, Spring 2011, p. 2


1. Responsibilities of Students: Each student is expected to commit to the following guidelines:

a. Preparation—the class discussion will mean little if text material is not read and the
assignments are not prepared in advance.
b. Presence—unique thoughts and insights cannot be contributed to group discussions,
or to student learning, if you are not present. The SEU attendance policy should be
your guide and is a minimum attendance policy.
c. Promptness—late arrivals disrupt the class and adversely impact the decorum of the
process. This is unprofessional. Note: Three times late equals one absence for
evaluation purposes.
d. Participation—as part owner of the discussion, it is each student’s responsibility to
share in the advancement of the group’s collective skills and knowledge
e. Academic Honesty—Any instance of academic dishonesty, including plagiarism, will
be handled in accordance with the Student Handbook.
f. Specific Policies—If you cannot be present for a class, you are responsible for
contacting a fellow student by using email in order to find out what was covered in
class the day you were absent and what will be covered in the next class.

2. Material will be covered in class that is not presented in the textbook. This material may
include information included in lectures, additional readings, and in-class exercises. Exams will
include this material as well as material assigned in the textbook.

3. Material not turned in when due will NOT be accepted and will earn a grade of zero. Unless
otherwise specified, all assignments must be submitted using either a Microsoft Office product
(Word, PowerPoint, etc.) or Adobe PDF; if I cannot open an assignment or the file is corrupt,
you cannot earn credit on the assignment. (NOTE: I cannot open Mac .pages files or files with
no extension.)

4. Attendance is important. Any absences in excess of what is allowed by the SEU policy set
forth above will result in an appropriate grade reduction. It is your job to keep track of your
total absences; I am not responsible for reminding you about your total absences. On speech or
guest speaker days, if you are tardy you must wait to enter the class until the speaker has
completed her or his speech; you will be able to tell when speeches end by listening for the

5. Failure to take an exam or quiz on the assigned date will result in a ZERO for that
exam unless the absence is approved in advance by the instructor or is an emergency that is
excused by the Dean of the College of Fine Arts. If you travel with an athletic team or are a
member of another SEU approved club or group, you are responsible for submitting assigned
material prior to your departure or via email while traveling.

COMM 4333, Spring 2011, p. 3

6. Cell Phones and Electronic Devices: Because your friends and family may not know your
class schedule, turn off your cell phones in class. Ringing cell phones are annoying and
disruptive, especially during speeches. Furthermore, because of the advance technology of text
messaging and digital imaging, the use of any personal electronic devices (cell phones, PDAs,
iPods, headphones, etc) is prohibited during examinations. The use of any such item during an
examination will result in immediate dismissal from the classroom and the examination.

7. Agreement with Syllabus Content: This syllabus is an agreement between the professor and
the student, between me and you, to respectively provide and complete a worthy learning
experience. By remaining a registered student in this course, you have identified your
understanding of and agreement to the obligations set forth in this syllabus for satisfactory
completion of this course, including the course policies as well as the assignments. The
professor reserves the right to modify this syllabus during the term.

All other academic policies are described in the Student Handbook.


Students with Disabilities

Southeastern University is committed to the provision of reasonable accommodations for
students with learning and or physical disabilities, as defined in Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act 1973. If you think you may qualify for these accommodations, notify your
instructor. You will then be directed to contact the Director of Academic Success at 863-667-

Testing Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Tests are administered for each
department at the request of each professor to provide special accommodations for those
affected by learning disabilities, vision and physical impairments, attention deficit disorder, and
testing anxiety/phobias. These accommodations are provided on a daily basis for the student
and professors.

Class Attendance Policy

Students are both expected and encouraged to attend classes regularly. The lack of attendance
will affect a student’s grade.

For traditional fall and spring semesters, a student may miss a class without penalty equal to
the number of times a class meets per week as follows:

• If the class meets once a week a student may miss one class.
• If the class meets two times a week a student may miss two classes.
• If the class meets three times a week a student may miss three classes.

COMM 4333, Spring 2011, p. 4

If a student’s absences exceed the number of times a class meets per week, a professor may:

• Subject the student to a penalty of not more than one letter grade based
on attendance alone.
• Recommend to the Vice President for Academic Affairs that a student with
excessive absences be withdrawn from the course.

If a student misses a class and there is an in-class activity/assignment/quiz on that day,

makeups are not allowed.

Program directors must provide lists of students participating in authorized university activities
or field trips to the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Once approved, program
directors must provide copies of the lists to the participating students for submission to the
students’ instructors. Faculty must take this information into account as they log attendance
and not consider it an absence.

Working within the framework of the above guidelines, faculty will clearly articulate their
attendance policy in the course syllabus.

Prolonged and/or unusual absences not covered by the policy may be appealed to the Vice
President of Academic Affairs by either the professor or the student. Appeals must be
submitted in writing.

Final Exam
Every professor is obligated to administer a final exam or hold an appropriate class during the
regularly scheduled exam period. Every student is obligated to take the final exam or attend
that appropriate class during the regularly scheduled exam period. Please plan accordingly and
carefully for final exams. You must not plan vacations, ministry appointments, weddings, airline
flights, or any other similar activity or engagement that will conflict with the final exam
schedule. Also, do not schedule any of these activities so close to your final exam that the
commute to the activity conflicts with the final exam schedule.

Final exams will be administered in the room where the class normally meets. Students with
more than 3 exams scheduled on one day can petition the instructor and department
chair/college dean to take one of the exams another day.

Communication Statement
Southeastern University requires all faculty, staff and students to use their Southeastern email
address for official university communication. Students are required to check Southeastern
email daily as they will be held accountable for all communications sent through this medium.

Course Evaluations

In order to help us to assess the effectiveness of our courses and instructors, if you receive a
course evaluation for this course, you are required to complete it.

COMM 4333, Spring 2011, p. 5

Several years ago, a colleague shared with me this quotation by longshoreman and philosopher Eric

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully
equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

This quotation struck a chord with me. Put simply, my overarching goal in teaching is to ensure that our
world has more learners than learned. I am fortunate to be in a role in life where I can have an impact
on our future world leaders.

What do I expect from my students?

• Students should be fully read on all of the chapters (or other reading assignments) and to be
ready to discuss any part of the readings.
• Students should raise questions when they are uncertain of the material we are discussing,
including questions that I will have no easy (“pat”) answer for.
• Students should make every effort to gain the most value that they can from the class. They
should want to become independent learners.
• Students should become aware of not only how what happens in the world (current events)
impacts them, but also how what they do impacts the world. Campus is not a cocoon.

And what can my students expect from me?

• Because I am aware that students learn in many different ways, I will not lecture at my students
daily from behind a raised podium. Instead, I will provide instruction to them in an interactive
manner, even in online courses. In a typical week, students will experience partner discussions,
small group discussions, Internet scavenger hunts, and even crossword puzzles, in addition to
short (less than 20 minute) lecturettes. “Death by PowerPoint” will not happen in my class.
• I will provide them with the most current information I have available. I stay current on topics
and trends in the industry.
• I will stay abreast of current technology and apply it in the classroom whenever it adds to the
learning experience. (Examples include current software, podcasts and blogging, to name a few.)
• I will make every effort to help guide students through the issues that they raise, and we will seek
resolution together.
• I will make every effort I can to make sure that students understand the issues and concepts my
courses present.
• When I have positive feedback to share, I will share it openly in the classroom and call attention
to students by name in the process. My goal in this is to enhance or maintain the students’ self-
esteem, not to break it down. There are plenty of other places in the world where their self-
esteem may be diminished. Constructive criticism will still be provided to students, but not by
name in front of a whole class.
• I expect for us to have fun in class. Laughter and learning go hand in hand in my book. If we are
not enjoying ourselves in class, there’s something amiss.
• And perhaps most importantly, I will listen to my students so that I can learn from them, too.

COMM 4333, Spring 2011, p. 6


TENTATIVE WEEKLY SCHEDULE (as of 20 December 2010)


Course Overview
1 January 9
Sign up for NewsU account (in class)
Getting Organized for Writing
Tapping the Web and New Media
Ch. 1
Social Media 101 (incl. blogging &
2 January 16 Ch. 12
Mark Lowry Comm Dept Fundraiser (Jan. 19, 7
Ch. 2
Becoming a Persuasive Writer Also, Cleaning Your Copy (NewsU);
3 January 23
 Blog Checkpoint #1 (Fri) submit Course Report by midnight on
AP Style Bootcamp
4 January 30
 Blog Editorial Calendar Due (Fri)
Ch. 3
5 February 6 Avoiding Legal Hassles Also, The Lead Lab (NewsU) + Course
Finding & Making News
Ch. 4
6 February 13 Distributing News to the Media
Ch. 11
 All Five AP Style Quizzes Due (Fri)
Writing the News Release
7 February 20  Media Contact List Due (Fri) Ch. 5
 Blog Checkpoint #2 (Fri)
Ch. 7
Creating News Features & Op-Eds
8 February 27 Also, The Language of the Image
 News Release Due (Fri)
(NewsU) + Course Report
Preparing Fact Sheets, Advisories, Media Kits &
10 March 13 Pitches Ch. 6
 Media Advisory Due (Fri)
Ch. 8
11 March 20 Selecting Publicity Photos & Graphics Also, Reporting Across Platforms
(NewsU) + Course Report
Writing for TV and Radio Ch. 9
12 March 27  Personality Profile Due (Fri) Also, Writing for the Ear (NewsU) +
 Photo & Caption Due (Fri) Course Report
Getting Along with Journalists
13 April 3 Ch. 11
 PSA Due (Fri)
Using Direct Mail and Advertising Ch. 16
14 April 10
 Blog Due (Fri)
Measuring Success Ch. 19
15 April 17
 Ad Due (Fri)
Course Wrap Up
16 April 24
 SMNR/Final Project Due (Fri)
FINAL EXAM Complete the Final Exam in BlackBoard before Tuesday, May 3, at 11:50 a.m.

NOTE: For dates of quizzes, see BlackBoard. Typically, quizzes are due on Mondays by midnight, and they will cover the upcoming week’s readings
from the textbook.

NOTE: The above schedule and procedures are subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances. When possible, you will be provided at
least one class day of advance notice of any changes. It’s always smart to check your e-mail before coming to class each day.

COMM 4333, Spring 2011, p. 7

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COMM 4333, Spring 2011, p. 8

Consent to Comply

I ______________________________________________
Student’s Name (print)

have read, understand, and will keep in my possession the Course Syllabus for COMM 4333,
Southeastern University, 2010/2011. I understand that in compliance with the syllabus and the
Student Handbook, for both instructional and evaluation purposes, I may be responsible for
electronically submitting my written work to Turnitin®. With the affixing of my signature below,
I agree to comply to the terms therein.

My Signature


COMM 4333, Spring 2011, p. 9