A few weeks ago I completed the summer session of the class of 2013 M.S. in Public Relations program. It was sold as a six-week intensive introduction to the field of public relations, proper PR writing, and an interaction to graphic design/visual communication principles and practice.
Coming from the viewpoint of someone who studied a more academic-focused program (Honours in International Relations from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada) it seems like a decent introduction to the field. I began reading number of blogs (Brian Solis, Chris Brogram Dave Fleet, Ragan) in the months leading up to the program and did not find I was at all ‘behind’ my classmates who had majored in PR or a similarly non-academic major.
We had various lectures on different aspects of public relations and were given writing assignments (which served as my introduction to AP style).
However, in terms of output our major project was creating a media kit (press release, backgrounder, fact sheet, biographies, pitch letter, blog and social media posts (Twitter and Facebook) for a fictitious event/product produced with the cooperation of a corporation and non-profit organization. I ignored my knowledge about Amnesty International’s longstanding policy of not accepting donations from corporations and announced the creation of a fictitious human rights violations reporting device inspired by the real-life “internet in a suitcase” technology being developed with funding by the State Department.
After our individual kits were completed we moved onto breaking into groups to present one of the groups ideas in a mock press conference another professor said was “going by the wayside”.
I received an A for the assignment and for the course.
In GRA 617 Visual Communications Theory and Practice we learned graphic design principles and then put them into practice by creating a well-designed resume, poster (based on our PR media kit), found a “crappy” website and redesigned it, and finished our course with a 4-page interactive iPad Magazine.
While I have no intention of being a graphic designer it provided the knowledge to be able to do basic tasks with Adobe CS (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop) and to be able to express what looks good, what doesn’t, and why
Due to a few technical errors I ended up earning an A- in the course.
Here’s the Syllabi for GRA 617 Visual Communications Theory and Practice and PRL 604: Writing for News and Public Relations at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.