Newhouse “Boot Camp” for Graduate PR Students Summary

Bootcamp at the S.I. Newhouse School
Bootcamp at the S.I. Newhouse School

Bootcamp at the S.I. Newhouse School

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.


Media Kitproject for PRL 604: PR Writing

Writing and Reporting the News as a Story - Robert Lloyd and Glenn Guzzo
Public Relations Writing: The Essentials of Style and Format

Public Relations Writing: The Essentials of Style and Format, a required text for PRL 604: Writing for News and Public Relations at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

Today I received my first assignment for PRL 604: Writing for News and Public Relations with Professor Caroline Reff at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

The major project that we will work on throughout the course will be taking a real non-profit organization and a real corporation and create a fictitious special event which they jointly hold. We’ll be creating a media kit with two bios, a news release, fact sheet, backgrounder, sample blog, pitch letter, and media alert. We’ll be receiving the detailed syllabus shortly but for now I can share with you the generic PRL 604 Writing for News & Public Relations syllabus below. I’m very excited to begin this course, get a good handle on PR writing basics, and improve my writing overall.

In order to succeed in our profession, public relations practitioners must become
good writers and communicators. This includes mastering grammar, punctuation,
form and style, but more importantly, understanding the dynamics of each intended
audience and identifying the key message or messages for every communication
vehicle you compose. PR people must know how to write clearly, concisely,
effectively—and more often than not—under the pressure of deadlines. Becoming a
good writer comes with practice, lots of practice, and in PRL 604, you will begin this
journey by producing writing assignments covering a wide range of communication
forms. Within the context of these writing assignments, we will discuss message
research, development and communications methods; the implications of audience
segmentation, diversity, and the techniques of writing for internal and external
audiences; as well as ethics, credibility and newsworthiness. Students will also learn
about the legal aspects of public relations writing, including defamation, privacy,
copyright and trademarks.

In the beginning of class, students will be introduced to the basic fundamentals of
news writing, and will learn about the needs and expectations of the news media that
are part of their communications world. Students will learn to think like journalists,
weighing news values, making decisions on the importance of facts, and asking the
right questions to get the right answers in interview situations.
Next, students will assume the roles of public relations practitioners and will learn
how to research and write various communications forms that are considered “the
tools of the public relations trade”. Highlights of the semester will be the creation of
a complete, portfolio-quality media kit for a fictitious event sponsored by a real
company and a real non-profit organization. The class will vote on the two strongest
media kits and then form teams to prepare and stage a press conference. PRL 604 is
a three-credit academic course and is a mandatory requirement in the public relations

Course Goal: To achieve the proficiency in written communication that is expected
of entry-level public relations professionals, along with the basic understanding of
how the media research, write and report the news.

Learning Outcomes:
• To understand the needs of the media and various audiences;
• To be able to write clear, concise copy that is logically organized and
• To learn how to find and use reliable information;
• To understand the requirements of different forums and formats of writing;5/14/2012
• To explore and gain an understanding of the nuances and requirements of
writing within the realm of diversity and multiculturalism, taking into
consideration gender and ethnicity;
• To learn to understand the needs of the client in preparing written materials
and communications; and
• To develop a sound working knowledge of the rules and guidelines of the AP

Required Texts:
Writing and Reporting the News as a Story, by Robert Lloyd and Glenn Guzzo
Public Relations Writing: The Essentials of Style and Format, 7th Edition by Thomas H.
The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, 2011 Edition; Christian,
Jacobsen and Minthorn, Editors.

Suggested Text:
The Elements of Style, 2009 Edition by William Strunk Jr.