ROGER WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY
Department of Communication and Graphic Design, Feinstein School of Arts and Sciences
COMM 402 – Media Relations, Spring 2016; Instructor – Dr. Hume Johnson
Media Relations is arguably the most important aspect of public relations. Building a successful relationship with the media is key to successful public relations, whether it is for a government entity, business corporation, non-profit, or an advocacy organization.
This courses examines the relationship between organizations and the media. We will be looking at the local media landscape, how to develop strategic messages, develop a strategy for getting your messages out, how to provide journalists with the contacts and context they need, and how to prepare yourself and your organization for the inevitable contact with the media.
This course will help students to establish and foster successful relationships with journalists, help clients find new opportunities for storytelling and direct engagement with their target publics, effect communication strategies that can client organizations win over new clients or patrons for their organization, products and services, as well as create a credible and favorable reputation in the eyes of their publics.
Students will explore new and evolving media landscapes that organizations have to deal with, as well as engage in social networking, identity/brand management, message development, pitching and stakeholder engagement. The course is grounded in both theory and practice. Students will apply communication principles and tools learned in class to tackle crisis management issues facing a real organization.
This will involve press conference planning and implementation, on-camera television interviewing, and podium practice, as well as spokesperson training (how to communicate with the press from the perspective of the client). Media relations is learned best by doing. Consequently, this course requires your active participation, confidence and enthusiasm.
Specifically, this course will include opportunities for applied learning in Rhode Island. We shall select as our client the town of Coventry, and assist with a city branding project called “Celebrate Coventry”. This includes analyzing Coventry (e.g. SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), exploring this town, from its historical sites and attractions, natural environment, to education, Government and business as well as cultural themes such as art, fashion, food, shopping and sports.
Students will work with city of Coventry stakeholders to discuss their vision and objectives for the town, and then help to conceive, design and implement a media relations plan based on the needs of the client. This will involve creating/improving upon the social media presence for Coventry, including blogs, building a Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+ to image different aspects of the city.
Through participation in these projects, students will build an understanding of content marketing, brand strategy and message development (key ideas an organization wants its publics to know) as well as media relations – how to write and pitch story ideas to relevant media and get publicity for Coventry through various tools – media releases, PSAs, etc.).