Public Relations Principles

Course Details

Course Number: MCOM-4683  Section Number: 101

Fall 2011

Location: Fain Fine Arts Center

Classroom Number: B127

Days & Times:

MWF @ 11 - 11:50 a.m.

Course Attachments


Think Public Relations
Authors: Wilcom, Camercon, Reber & Shin Publication Date: 2011
  ISBN: 978-0-205-78169-0

MSU Faculty Member
Liz Minden   
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Course Objectives

This course examines the nature of public relations, how it functions in an organization, and its role in society.  The course is designed to give you a broad understanding of the development and practice of public relations, as well as the profession’s theory, issues and trends.  In addition to learning from lecture information and reading the text, students also will examine several cases, conduct research and analyze information designed to reinforce public relations principles.  By the end of the course, you should be able to:


  1. define public relations and explain the steps in the PR process.


  1. outline the evolution of public relations and explain its role in modern society.


  1. explain some of the PR profession’s legal and ethical responsibilities, as well as some of the regulations and constraints affecting its practice.


  1. conduct research and analyze an organization’s communication activities in order to plan and implement communication strategies that help achieve organizational goals.


  1. apply the public relations process to a variety of organizational environments.


distinguish between PR’s communication activities and its strategic management function. 

Course Expectations



  1. QUIZZES/ACTIVITIES:  10 points each


These will be based on the assigned readings (see schedule on pp. 2-3) and class discussions.  They will be unannounced and given in class at the discretion of the instructor.




  1. ASSIGNMENT DATES are:  Sept. 23, Oct. 21, Nov. 11, and Dec. 2.
  2. These are in-class writing assignments for which you will develop ideas to address a particular public relations problem or situation.  Thought in applying the readings and lecture material is essential to doing well on these assignments.


3.   HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS:  100 points each


      A handout explaining these assignments will be provided.  Students must work independently of each other on these assignments.

a.   Assignment #1, Public Opinion & Persuasion = due date:  October 3

b.   Assignment #2, Law & Ethics = due date:  October 31

c.   Assignment #3, Internal Relations = due date:  November 21

c.   Assignment #4, External Relations = due date: Monday, Dec. 5 (during final exam period) 

Grading Standards




  1. Late work will not be accepted. A late assignment earns a zero for points. 
  2. Fabricating information or using another’s work as your own earns you an “F” for the course.  (See “Course Policies” #2.)
  3. Points will be deducted from homework assignments that have numerous grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors.
  4. Homework assignments must be typed, double-space.  If they are not, points will be deducted.
  5. Students are expected to come to class having read the assigned chapters and prepared to discuss the material.
  6. The ability to make up any missed assignment is at the discretion of the instructor.
  7. Numerical grades are awarded for each quiz and assignment.  To determine your grade for the course, quiz and assignment grades will be totaled and then divided by the total number of possiblepoints to derive your percentage. The grading scale is:


A   =          90% -100% of the total possible points

B    =          80% - 89% of the total possible points

C   =          70% - 79% of the total possible points

D   =          60% - 69% of the total possible points

F    =          Less than 60% of the total possible points



**NOTE:  The instructor reserves the right to add or cancel assignments as the course progresses.  If for some reason the number of assignments total more or fewer than the original number set for the course, the method of calculating your final grade will remain the same:  the total points a student achieves for all submitted assignments will be divided by the total possible points for all the assignments to obtain a percentage, and a grade will be assigned according to the percentage scale outlined above. 

Final Exam12/5/2011  10:30-12:30

Submission Format Policy
  1. Homework assignments must be typed, double-spaced.
  2. Typed assignments must be as free as possible of typos, misspellings, poor grammar, and other writing errors.
  3. Assignments must be submitted at the beginning of the class period in which they are due.

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Late Paper Policy

Late work will not be accepted. 

Plagiarism Policy Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception. Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters. We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student. We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed. Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

Attendance:  Students are expected to attend, be on time for and participate in class.  The instructor reserves the right to drop any student who misses more than three class periods.  Students who miss more than three class periods without verifiably good reasons will be dropped from this course. 

Other Policies
  1. Plagiarism and cheating:  The MSU Student Honor Creed, found in both your student handbook and the university catalog, includes the statement:  “As an MSU student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else to do so.”  Plagiarism, lying and cheating include, but are not limited to:  fabricating information and sources, copying material from publications without crediting the author, turning in another student’s work as your own, and copying quiz/exam answers from another person.  STUDENTS FOUND CHEATING, PLAGIARIZING OR MAKING UP INFORMATION WILL RECEIVE AN “F” FOR THIS COURSE.


3.   Compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act: Any student with a disability who is registered with the MSU Office of Disability Support Services should notify the instructor at the beginning of the course to ensure that alternatives may be found to provide the student with full class participation.


  1. Limited Right:  By enrolling in this course, the student expressly grants MSU a “limited right” in all intellectual property created by the student for the purpose of this course. This “limited right” shall include, but shall not be limited to, the right to reproduce the student’s work product in order to verify originality and authenticity, and for educational purposes.


  1. FERPA:  The instructor abides by the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.  The instructor also will not release a student’s academic information or discuss a student’s academic progress or class attendance with his/her parent or guardian.  Additionally, the instructor will not discuss a student’s grades with him/her in class, over the phone or by email.  STUDENTS WHO HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THEIR GRADES MUST MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE INSTRUCTOR.


  1. Disruptive Behavior:  Anyone disrupting the class – or violating any other Standard of Conduct applicable to the classroom environment – will be dropped from the course.  (See MSU Student Handbook, “Standards of Student Conduct.”)
  2. Turn off the sound on your cell phone during class.  No text messaging either.  If your phone rings or you’re found sending a text-message during class, you will be dropped from the course.
  3. Turn off your iPods and similar technology.  Like ringing cell phones, this is a class disruption issue and you will be dropped from the course if you do not comply.
  4. Be polite.  Discourtesy of any kind will not be tolerated.


7.   Senior Portfolio:  Please note that all mass communication majors are required to submit a senior portfolio before registering for the mass communication capstone course, Senior Production (October 1 for spring semester registration and March 1 for fall semester registration).  This requirement is a part of MSU’s reaccreditation with the Southern Assoc. of Colleges and Schools and is non-negotiable.  Students are required to demonstrate communication competence through the written word, the spoken word and visual communication; two examples of each competency are required.  Students will not be admitted to Senior Production until the department chair certifies that they have satisfied the portfolio requirement.


      As you go through this and other classes, you are responsible for saving course work that could be included in your senior portfolio.


      Please see your instructor, adviser, the department chair or any mass communication faculty member for handouts with more information (“Mass Communication Senior Portfolio Competencies” and “Mass Communication Senior Portfolio FAQ”).


      More information is available at:



8.    Other:  You may be asked to provide your assignments on a portable computer medium (e.g.,                    jump/thumb drive) or by email.


BE AWARE THAT the instructor reserves the right to change any part of this syllabus for any reason, and will give sufficient notice if changes are necessary. 

Writing Proficiency Requirement All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed English 1113 and English 1123 and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.