JOUR 3421

Public Relations Writing

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This writing-intensive course includes components of knowledge and skills. You will learn about organizations, publics, the media and how to prepare public relations messages for print and electronic media.

Course Objectives:

You will learn how to adapt messages for various media (e.g., news releases, copy for employee publications, position papers, direct mail, video scripts, speeches and Web sites).

You will consider your audience and associated motivational factors, as well as the technical requirements of the medium. You will also become familiar with and use commercial media lists.

Knowledge components. You will learn to:

  • Explain how writer's purpose, intended public and requirements of the medium affect style and content.
  • Recognize potential problems and apply solutions in media relations.
  • Recognize legal and ethical problems associated with public relations writing.

Skill components. You will learn to:

  • Prepare news releases, with particular attention to the requirements of the sponsoring organization, the requirements of the medium, and journalistic standards.
  • Adapt written material for use in newsletters.
  • Develop questions and answers in anticipation of media interest.
  • Write and orally deliver a prepared statement, then field questions from an aggressive media corps.
  • Research and write a speech for someone else.
  • Proofread and edit the work of others.
  • Apply the AP Stylebook guidelines to written materials.
  • Use commercial media directories.

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course:

Supplementary Materials:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course:

Hardware Requirements:

The minimum requirements can be found at

Software Requirements:

The minimum requirements can be found at  All work submitted be accomplished in Microsoft Word, or another software that generates a doc. extension document.

Instructor Information

Please see the separate page inside the course to find instructor contact information as well as a statement of virtual office hours and other communication information.

Assessment and Grading

Grading Procedures:

All work will be graded on content, APA formatting and AP style writing. All papers will be graded on punctuation, spelling and grammar. Your assignments are due on a specific date. NO work is accepted late.

Grading Scale:

Grading will be by letter grade. These are the levels of proficiency as understood by your instructor.

A = 90-100
Professional work. Clear thinking reflected in clear writing. Uses appropriate style for type media. Knows and uses preferred form. No errors in form, grammar or spelling. Adapted to intended audience (public).

B = 80-89
Near professional work. Lacks polish (style) of A work. Form is correct. No errors in form, grammar or spelling. Adapted for intended audience.

C = 70-79
Acceptable as a classroom assignment only. Not usable professionally without further editing/corrections. Up to 7 errors detected. [or] Not well adapted to intended audience or medium.

D = 60-69
Needs significant work in form and/or style. Up to 12 errors detected. [or] Little consideration of needs/interests of intended audience or of medium.

F = Below 60
Unacceptable in form and style, or fails to adapt to audience or medium.

Assignments and Participation

Assignments and Projects:

Reading, and areas of concentration:

Chapter one and two:
Public relations and the writer. Publics, channels and the role of the writer. Legal and ethical guidelines.

Unit 2
Chapter three and four:
Persuasion and communication. Steps in the persuasion process. Research for the PR writer.

Unit 3
Chapter five and six:
Style and Content, Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation. Using Associated Press style. Editing. Simplifying the complex. Media directories, The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law.

Chapter seven:
Preparing memos, business letters, reports and proposals. Use of e-mail and proper "netiquette."

Chapter eight:
Backgrounders and position papers. Advocating a point of view.

Chapter nine and ten:
News releases. Form, style and types of releases; news for broadcasting.

Chapter 11 and 12:
Creating messages for broadcast media. Public service announcements, releases and video news releases.

Chapter 13:
Writing advertising copy. Message appeal and positioning. Direct response and sales promotions.

Unit 9
Chapter 14:
Writing for Web sites and e-newsletters. Developing an organizational Web site. Creating an online area for journalists.

Chapter 15:
Components of campaign writing and media kits. Speeches, presentations and proclamations.

Unit 11
Chapter 16:
Speeches, presentations and proclamations.

Chapter 17:
Newsletters, brochures and annual reports.

Chapter 18:

Magazines and Annual reports.

Chapter 20:
Crisis Communications


Class Participation:

Students must communicate with other students in the chat room, communicate with the instructor as a learning resource, check the course bulletin board frequently for announcements, and actively participate in threaded discussion events.

Course Ground Rules

  • Participation is required.
  • Expected to communicate with other students in team projects.
  • Learn how to navigate in WebCT.
  • Keep abreast of course announcements.
  • Use the assigned college or university e-mail address as opposed to a personal e-mail address.
  • Address technical problems immediately.
  • Observe course "netiquette" at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members

Discussion Groups:

  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of otherís ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


  • Introduce yourself to the other learners in the chat session.
  • Be polite. Choose your words carefully. Do not use derogatory statements.
  • Be concise in responding to others in the chat session.
  • Be prepared to open the chat session at the scheduled time.
  • Be constructive in your comments and suggestions.

Web Resources:


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in the Regents Degree Program.

Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading must be included in all courses.

Students With Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.

Technical Support

Telephone Support:

If you are having problems logging into your course, timing out of your course, using your course web site tools, or other technical problems, please contact the AskRODP Help Desk by calling

1-866-550-7637 (toll free)

or go to their Web site at: