COM378.01 Public Relations Management: Corporate

COM378.01 Public Relations Management: Corporate Communication
School of Communication
Illinois State University
Spring 2015
Class Meetings:
Lead Student:
Office Hours:
Office Phone:
Online, May 18 to June 26, 2015
Peter M. Smudde, Ph.D., APR
449 Fell Hall
E-mail and by appointment (office, ReggieNet Chat, or Skype)
(309) 438-7339
[email protected]
Course Description
As the “senior capstone course” focus is on the leading and managing of the everyday matters of a public
relations function.
Prerequisites (see 2012-2014 catalog)
COM 111, 161, 178, 268, 297, 329
Course Design
In this course, which is the capstone course for the public relations major and will be run this summer
completely online, you will be challenged to think, work and produce discourse that would rival that of
full-time, experienced PR professionals. In this way, the transformational goal for this course is for you
to become a valuable and valued strategic public relations counselor for any organization.
In all my courses I like to connect the dots between theory and practice because they inform and rely on
each other. Also, in the design of my courses, I apply many of the practices and demands of “real world”
communications—remember that I’ve been there and done that—so students can become prepared for
how they will be managed in their jobs. Lessons and skills in writing, critical thinking, and public
relations from other classes will be important.
Of course you will learn much new material, and you must recall and apply what you learned in all your
previous PR courses. Yes, this course will be difficult and demanding, but I firmly believe you will come
out of it far more prepared than your peers in other PR programs at other colleges and universities. Also
refer back to my letter welcoming you to this course.
In this course you will adopt the persona (as best you can) of an organizational leader/executive in charge
of communications (public relations and advertising)—as understood through readings, class discussion
and assignments—and look at the work world of communications through that perspective.
To meet the course’s transformational goal we will work in four key areas (shown in the ovals in the
diagram below), each with its own series of assessments of your learning. Each of the four areas involves
measuring your learning in various ways, some of which are used in more than one area. See the
document, “Instructional Events & Assessment Plan,” in ReggieNet for basic information about the
assignments and the expected learning outcomes for you that apply in the course as laid out in the figure.
Specific instructions about each assignment is given separately in ReggieNet, and any additional guidance
shall be given in class and individually as needed. (See the “Learning Assessments” section below.)
COM378 PR Management — Dr. Peter M. Smudde, APR
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Research Paper
Learning Growth
Class Participation
Leadership Principles:
Explain best practices in leading PR functions.
Deadlines Met
Learning Growth
Class Participation
COM 378 Transformational Goal:
Become a valuable and valued strategic public relations counselor for any organization.
Prepare self to represent and defend PR inside and outside an organization.
Life‐long Learning
Time Sheets
Class Participation
Operations Management:
Discriminate among the various operational demands of a PR function.
Job Description Paper
Team Project
Team Project
Strategic Planning:
Organize material and information for effective strategic planning.
Class Participation
Learning Growth
Team Project
Continued Enrollment
Your enrollment in this class constitutes agreement with all aspects of this syllabus, the supporting
“Course Policies” document, and any additions or alterations that may be made to them during the course
of the semester. Additions include announcements I post for the class in ReggieNet or make in class, and
additions include e-mail sent to class members. Such additions include information about the course,
assignments, and so on. These announcements and e-mail are equally important when it comes to
evaluating your work, because announcements may contain clarifications or other help that fit within
assignments’ requirements.
Required Texts
• American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication Manual of the American Psychological
Association, 6th ed. Washington, DC: Author. [Get the second printing or later!]
• Associated Press. (2014). The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. New York:
Author. [An edition from a previous year but not more than three years old should work well.]
• Smudde, P. M. (2015). Managing public relations: Methods & tools for achieving solid success. New
York: Oxford University Press.
Recommended Texts
• Lederer, R., & Shore, J. (2005). Comma sense: A fun-damental guide to punctuation. New York: St.
Martin’s Griffin.
• Stacks, D., & Michaelson, D. (2014). A practitioner's guide to public relations research, measurement,
and evaluation (2nd ed.). Williston, VT: Business Expert Press.
Course Format
This course will be run completely online over ReggieNet, so you should be able to access it and
complete all work from anywhere in the world where you may be and have access to the Internet. (See my
COM378 PR Management — Dr. Peter M. Smudde, APR
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welcome letter sent by e-mail.) Assignments that you must complete are summarized below in the
“Assignments” section. Details about each assignment will be shared separately and posted on ReggieNet.
Depending on class needs, I may also hold real-time meetings using ReggieNet’s chat function, so
everyone can benefit from the conversation. These chats would be announced in advance.
An entire semester’s worth of work will be covered and completed within six weeks. To manage the
workload for this course, you must “attend” class every day. That means you actively engage with the
material that is available to you online and in the textbook each day. You must also turn in work on time
or before any day something is due. See my e-mail to all students and my “Welcome” note in ReggieNet.
Student Expectations
The following information outlines what is expected from you, the student learner, in this online,
asynchronous course.
1. You are expected to participate in the course on a regular basis. You should access course material
every day to remain current and make sure you are aware of any changes in the course. Changes will
be posted in announcements.
2. You must make a commitment to learning. In a normal academic term, the university would tell you
to schedule two hours per week for each credit per course for learning activities. In this course you
will have an additional two hours, which is the time you would normally be in the classroom.
3. Collaborating with other students enriches your learning activities. The course is designed to
encourage and reward collaboration. Therefore, you are expected to participate in discussion forums
and contribute to the body of knowledge for this subject throughout the course.
4. You may communicate with me via mail, e-mail, telephone, fax, ReggieNet chat, or in person. For
this course you must use ISU’s e-mail system. My e-mail is listed on the first page of this syllabus, in
the university’s faculty directory, the department’s website, and my profile in ReggieNet. You may
also ask your fellow students for assistance, except when I instruct you not to.
5. You are expected to remain civil and polite in all online communications. Although disagreements
and dissent should be part of learning, you must remain respectful to other participants and me. You
will carefully monitor your use of language while online or in official communication with other
participants. Improper language or tone will not be tolerated and will be penalized by deducting all
discussion-participation points for the session.
6. This online method of delivery places responsibility for learning on you, the learner. You are
expected to contribute your own work and to properly site the works of others submitted in the
course. You will honor privacy among other students. You will be especially sensitive to honoring
copyright. When in doubt, you are better served by providing a link to an online source, rather than
copying it into your own work.
You also are expected to be familiar with ISU’s Code of Student Conduct. Concerning online course
content, you also are expected to be familiar with and apply principles of Communication/Netiquette.
Outside Preparation
Plan on spending between six to nine hours (or more, depending on how you learn) each week outside of
class on your work for this course. (See ISU’s Credit Hour Policy 4.1.19. Also see “Time
Management/Credit Hour Policy” for weekly and daily breakdown.) You will need this time to complete
assigned readings, participate in online discussions, write papers, and develop team projects.
Learning Assessments
Assessment of students’ learning against the course’s objectives shall be done through a combination of
learning assessments. Details about them can be found on ReggieNet in the first module of core
documents for managing the class (see the document, “Instructional Events & Assessment Plan”).
Learning assessments fall into the following two categories:
COM378 PR Management — Dr. Peter M. Smudde, APR
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Informal/Ungraded Assessments — I can measure how well you are learning in process by observing,
listening to and talking with you. These data reveal your personal processes, attitudes, and other
matters that are part of how and how well you learn. Examples include the quality of questions about
and reflections on material, the amount of sharing/disclosure, learning ownership, assignment
discussion, conversations with me, and attitude.
Formal/Graded Assessments — I can measure how well you can apply your learning by evaluating
the work you produce in response to specific assignments. This work is what is graded and used to
determine your final, overall level of mastery of the course’s material by course’s end. Graded
assessments are given in the table below. Specific requirements and expectations for each formal
assessment shall be provided separately. Also see the “Course Policies” section for matters that
pertain to assignments’ requirements.
Weekly Time
Papers &
Strategic Plan
Basic Description
To foster understanding about time management in professional settings, you will use a time-sheet template on
ReggieNet to track and analyze your use of time in this course each week. You must e-mail your time sheets to
me as indicated on the course schedule. Each timesheet is worth a possible 10 points, and a scoring rubric is
posted on ReggieNet with each assignment. Deductions will be made based on the absence of information,
presence of errors, and lack of details in personal analysis/reflection. You will receive feedback about your time
sheets and be asked to discuss your observations about this process in class.
Twelve online discussions (10 points each, one discussion per chapter) will be conducted using ReggieNet’s
“Discussion” tool. These discussions are meant to challenge you to think about and apply the concepts of the
material we will have covered to that point in the semester. Writing quality in all respects matters in all online
discussions. See the separate rubric for evaluating online discussions is posted on ReggieNet.
As the “Student Expectations” section asserts, your participation in these discussions is important. Each
discussion will be available for only for the days indicated in the course schedule—opening at 12:00 a.m. the first
day and closing at 11:59 p.m. of the last day before the next discussion starts. So once a discussion closes, it is
closed. No excuses shall be granted for missing any discussion, except for documented personal emergencies
(i.e., directly affecting you). Documentation must be provided to me immediately upon your return from the
emergency, and that documentation should be a scanned image of official paperwork (e.g., physician’s note)
sent to me by e-mail or fax. If you can no longer participate in the class because of the emergency, you must
contact the Dean of Students office.
One 50-point paper and one 50-point timed project (90 minutes) are required in this course. The assignments
are due on the dates shown in the “Course Schedule.” You must apply critical thinking skills about the concepts
covered in this course to specifically and thoroughly address the problems given in the assignments. The
assignments will be assigned separately in class. Please visit with me early and often to make sure you’re “on
track” with the assignments.
You will assemble examples of your best work (courses and jobs/internships) in a professional portfolio, worth
100 points. Prospective employers frequently want to see work samples. Organizations such as the Public
Relations Society of America and the International Association of Business Communicators also require a
portfolio presentation as part of their respective accreditation processes. Thus, your professional interests will
be well served by developing a portfolio of your actual public relations work and, to the extent possible, the
results you've achieved through this work. A digital portfolio is preferred for this assignment.
A team-based series of assignments build into a final, 200-point, strategic product that includes a detailed plan
and summary presentation. A 75-point peer review component is also required. The details of the series of
assignments will be provided separately, and they will apply material covered during class meetings during
much of the first half of the semester. The individual assignments will be evaluated for effectiveness on a checkmark scale. Points will be awarded only as part of the final product. A choice of two formatted templates will be
NOTE 1: Excessive problems of any kind in the writing of your papers can, on their own, be sufficient cause for
lower scores than what the content by itself may suggest. Yes, proper and effective writing is that important. See the
“Assignments Expectations” section under “Course Policies.”
NOTE 2: A paper turned in late will be docked 10% from the original, earned score for EVERY DAY (not every
class day but every day of the week) it is late. Submit your paper to me by e-mail. The time stamp on your
submission will determine whether your work is on time or not. So give the system time to process your transaction.
COM378 PR Management — Dr. Peter M. Smudde, APR
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Course Grading Policy
Final grades are assigned on the basis of accumulation of points compared to the set scale below, not
percentages. I do not “curve” grades on any assignment or exam, nor do I “curve” final course grades. I
evaluate the end products of your work, not effort. Students are encouraged to keep track of the points
they have accumulated, and your grades will be posted on ReggieNet so you can monitor your
performance, which I encourage you to do frequently and discuss with me. If I make an error in grading,
I’ll always apologize and make things right. Here is a breakdown of the point values in this course:
Weekly Time Sheets (5 @ 10 pts. ea.)
Online Discussions (12 @ 10 pts. ea.)
Job Descriptions Paper
Peer Review for SPP
Timed Strategy Case
Strategic Plan Project (SPP)
Grand Total
Available Points
Earned Points
I will reveal scores in the ReggieNet grade book only after I return the graded assignments. If you
disagree with my evaluation of your work, please see me during office hours within one week after I have
returned your work. I will not discuss grades at any other time.
I do not "round up" or "round down" points toward final course grades, except in cases for fractions of
points, and at that rate I use conventional rounding procedures, e.g. 694.5 would be rounded to 695, but
694.4 would be rounded to 594. The following scale will be used to determine letter grades at the end of
this course:
A = 587-645
B = 522-586
C = 458-521
D = 393-457
F = 0-392
Note that the lowest A was calculated at 91% and rounded up, the lowest B at 81% and rounded up, and
so on. I reserve the right to revise all or part of this grading scale, which would be announced in class.
You are responsible for obtaining any such revisions.
If the calculation for your final grade is within 0.02 points of the next-highest grade, I will consider lifting
your final letter grade to the next letter, if and only if your scores on all assignments since the beginning
of the semester have consistently improved. If you earned a grade of “F” on any assignment at any time in
the semester, this policy will not be applied.
Incompletes will be granted only when a documented emergency prevents you from completing the class,
you contacted the Dean of Students Office, and you have successfully completed at least approximately
two-thirds (66%) of the course’s assignments.
Special Needs
Any student needing to arrange a reasonable accommodation for a documented disability should contact
Disability Concerns, Fell 350, 438-5853 (voice), 438-8620 (TDD).
COM378 PR Management — Dr. Peter M. Smudde, APR
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[R] = ReggieNet
Course Schedule
• TOPICS: Course
• READ: “Essential
Tools” [R] &
DUE: Timesheet
Professionalism &
• READ: Chapter 3
(pp. 49-62, 79-80)
& PRSA Code of
Ethics [R]
DUE: Timesheet
• TOPIC: Business
writing (basics)
• READ: “Business
Writing Elements”
[R], “Business
Writing Truths” [R],
& “Writing Tests”
DUE: Timesheet
• TOPIC: Delivering
value & decisionmaking
• READ: Chapter 6
(pp. 147-162)
DUE: Timesheet
• READ: Chapter 8
(pp. 209-216, 223224)
DUE: Timesheet
• TOPIC: Client as
• READ: Chapter 10
(pp. 247-251, 259261)
Leadership &
• READ: Chapter 1
(skim Chapter 9)
Leadership &
[R] & “Effective
Meetings” [R]
Corporate &
agency PR
• READ: Chapter
• TOPIC: Corporate
& agency PR
• READ: skim
“Career Path
Articles” [R]
• TOPIC: Law
• READ: Chapter 3
(pp. 63-79) & AP
Stylebook section,
“Briefing on Media
• TOPIC: Strategic
• READ: Chapter 4
(pp. 87-102, 113114)
• READ: Chapter
4 (pp. 102-113,
DUE: Jobs paper
• TOPIC: Business
writing (Gantt
charts; org charts;
• READ: “What is a
Gantt Chart?” [R],
Chart” [R], &
“Business Letter
Format” [R]
• READ: Chapter 5
(pp. 119-129,
• READ: Chapter
5 (pp. 129-140,
DUE: e-Portfolio
• READ: Chapter 6
(pp. 162-171)
Promoting PR &
• READ: Chapter 7
(pp. 175-187,
• READ: Chapter
7 (pp. 187-202,
DUE: Strategy
Memo (timed
assignment for 90
minutes, available
today only)
• READ: Chapter 8
(pp.216-222, 225)
• SPP work day
• TOPIC: Topperforming
• READ: Chapter
9 (pp. 227-238)
consultants &
• READ: Chapter 9
(pp. 238-243)
• TOPIC: Client
• READ: Chapter 10
(pp. 251-259)
• TOPIC: Career
• READ: Chapter
• TOPIC: Career
• READ: Beard
[R]. “Career in
Relations” [R]
12 (Slideshare)
DUE: Strategic
Plan Project
NOTE: We may alter this course schedule and other aspects of this syllabus as the course progresses. You are
responsible for noting any such changes, which will be announced in class and/or posted on ReggieNet.
COM378 PR Management — Dr. Peter M. Smudde, APR
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Course Policies
In this course I challenge you to strive for perfection (or at least near perfection) in your work. Why? The
answer is that your bosses, peers and, especially, clients will expect that from you throughout your career.
So this course, like the others you’ve taken, is designed to extend your knowledge, strengthen your
analytical skills, and refine your work habits. This course, then, challenges you to think, work and
produce discourse that would rival that of full-time professionals. To manage matters in this course, the
several policy areas given below.
Online Communication
I use e-mail to communicate directly to you as an individual and as a class, which you can also access
through iCampus. Clean out and check your ISU e-mail account frequently for notes or announcements
from me, your fellow students, the department, and the college. Not checking your e-mail or ReggieNet is
not grounds for any excuse for not doing or not doing well on any assignment. It’s your responsibility to
(1) keep your e-mail accounts open and up-to-date and (2) monitor your e-mail and ReggieNet class news
You must get used to the fact that good language use is necessary in every written document you prepare.
This includes e-mail. I will only open and respond to your e-mail me within 24 hours when:
1. A clear and simple subject line is given that, within 10 words or less, says exactly which class you're
in and what topic(s) you're writing about. Don't be lazy and leave an old subject line from a previous
e-mail I sent that has nothing to do with your e-mail's content. I will not reply to e-mail that recycles
old subject lines that are not directly related to your e-mail content.
2. Your e-mail text is written effectively and concisely, and it should be as free of errors as possible.
By the way, I will apply these rules when I send e-mail to you.
Online Course Material
I use ReggieNet extensively to organize the material for this course and make announcements about our class.
You can access ReggieNet through your iCampus homepage after you sign in to iCampus. If you have
problems with ReggieNet, let me know and call the Help Desk at 309-438-4357.
The ReggieNet site for this class contains additional, required reading material for this course. This material
used in connection with the course may be subject to copyright protection. Your viewing of the material
posted on ReggieNet does not imply any right to reproduce, to retransmit or to redisplay it other than for your
own personal or educational use. Links to other sites are provided for the convenience of the site user (staff or
student) or visitor and do not imply any affiliation or endorsement of the other site owner nor a guarantee of
the quality or veracity of information contained on the linked site.
Many files are PDFs and should open easily with Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print them. If you don't
have this free software, go to to download that software.
Academic Dishonesty
Plagiarism and any other form of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Plagiarism (presenting
someone else’s work as your own or without proper acknowledgment) or any other type of academic
dishonesty will be considered justification for failure for that particular assignment or the entire course,
depending on severity. (See the two documents on academic misconduct linked in ReggieNet.) Although
you may discuss with each other any assignment and course material, bounce ideas off each other, and
share the university's resources available to you (e.g., media guides), you cannot share actual work you do
with others. All work must be that of the student (or students involved in a group assignment) and
developed during the current semester for this course. Sources must receive credit using APA style. For
COM378 PR Management — Dr. Peter M. Smudde, APR
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information regarding academic integrity and procedures for academic misconduct, see ISU’s Code of
Student Conduct, Section V.B.1.
Assignments Feedback
I give my most focused comments on the first page or two of your papers because after that the
errors/problems are repetitive. I may note other things in later pages, but a lack of comments is not
necessarily an indication of correctness or effectiveness. I also won’t find absolutely everything because
time is of the essence, and getting you feedback sooner than later serves you and me well. I firmly believe
that my detailed comments and corrections in the first page or two are enough to indicate to you what I
see, and you should learn from and look for those things elsewhere in the paper. Of course, if you want
more detailed help, visit with me.
Assignments Expectations
If you go into the field of public relations or other field of communication for a career, you will be paid to
be your organization's best communicators in all forms--written and oral, physical and virtual,
interpersonal and public. I designed this course around this premise, and I try to approximate “real world”
problems, pressures and planning that you will need to both enter and succeed in PR. The assignments
(except for exams) are designed with ambiguity built in, which should inspire you to think analytically
about what you know and what you’re learning. So I expect you to have questions about the assignments,
because in the “real world” you do not get precise recipes for everything you need to do—you’ll have a
college degree, probably one or more internships, and a job where you’ll be paid to figure things out, so
build this skill set now. (See my philosophy of teaching and learning.)
To ensure that I should be able to easily open your files, all papers must be typed and submitted to me by
e-mail ([email protected]) in a Microsoft Word or a rich text file (.rtf). Failure to do so will result in an
automatic grade of F for a paper that does not comply. Assignments received after the official time they
are due on the date they are due, will be considered late and will be penalized 10% of the earned points
for every day they are late. You may choose to turn in work in advance of the due date—especially if you
are going to be absent the day something is due. I will critique all work that is submitted; however, if a
paper is not even remotely close to the assignment given in class, I reserve the right to withhold all points.
Documentation supporting a excused absence or late arrival to class would be applied to forgive the
penalty for late work. Also see the “Course Grading Policy” section in the syllabus.
Assignments formally challenge students to make sense of ambiguous situations and develop creative,
appropriate and effective communication solutions based on the course’s content and additional research.
Assessment of students’ learning against the course’s objectives shall be done through a combination of
activities. (See the grading policy in the syllabus. Also see my philosophy of teaching and learning.)
The writing assignments in this course are meant to (1) apply principles and concepts covered in this
course to realistic problems and (2) build upon and challenge you to improve your current skill level—to
be more consistent with “real world” demands. All written work is expected to fulfill assignments’
contexts, purposes and audiences just as they would if they were to be written to meet actual client needs.
If the writing in any assignment does not meet this expectation, I reserve the right to withhold any or all
points, depending on the severity of the writing’s inappropriateness/ineffectiveness.
Good writing is both strong in content and technically correct in its presentation (i.e., grammar, style,
discourse conventions, layout, and printing). All written work must fulfill the content requirements given
in the assignments, conform to American Psychological Association (APA) and (where applicable)
Associated Press (AP) styles, and be free of grammar, spelling, style and English usage errors. No matter
how strong your ideas may be, problems in grammar, style, spelling, mechanics, formatting, content
organization, transitions, avoidance of sentence fragments and run-on sentences, parallelism, good
paragraph development, formatting of your text, etc. can and will negatively affect your paper’s grade.
COM378 PR Management — Dr. Peter M. Smudde, APR
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Assignments’ scores will be posted on ReggieNet and discussed in class. See the course schedule for
details about all coursework. Please visit with me if you have any questions about any assignment or if
you’d like me to give you some feedback about your work in progress. Score sheets for specific
assignments are found in the “Assignments” area of the course’s ReggieNet site. You’ll need to print out
the score sheet designed for each assignment and submit it with your assignment. If you turn in an
assignment without a score sheet, five (5) points will be automatically deducted from the total earned
points for the assignment.
If an assignment is missed for a reason deemed satisfactory by me, the same or a make-up assignment of
observably greater difficulty may be required. Documentation for absences or late arrivals on days when
assignments are due will also be required.
For your own protection, you are expected to keep disk copies and/or photocopies of all assignments
submitted to me. As you work on any computer remember to save your work frequently, always backup
your work on another disk or other medium, and always protect your files and computer from viruses. I
will not accept work turned in late because you had technology problems and did not follow these
cardinal rules for technology use or couldn’t find a computer to use.
The first draft of any public relations or advertising writing is seldom successful. Most writing goes
through numerous drafts until the writer and the client are satisfied. In this class we do not have the time
to simulate this experience, thus we will not rewrite assignments for credit. Instead of rewrites, I
encourage you to engage in “prewrites.” By this I mean you prepare draft material in advance of the
deadlines and visit with one of us to review your work “in progress” and ask questions. This way you get
feedback on the basic content and style of your writing—to see if you are on “the right track.” Note that
prewrites are not “pregrading”: I will not look for everything that is good/bad or right/wrong, but I will
point out aspects or patterns of your writing that work or are problematic. I also will not do
proofreading—that is your job. Time permitting, prewrites can take place during class, but it’s usually
best during our office hours or appointments. E-mail prewrites are only granted in extreme situations.
Only two prewrites are allowed per assignment.
Returned Work
I will make every effort to return work to you promptly. Most short assignments will be returned at the
next class. Longer assignments may take one or two weeks. I will only return assignments to their
authors. If you are not in class when an assignment is returned, please pick it up during your respective
professor’s office hours.
Keep Your Work for Job Hunting
If you plan to pursue a career in public relations or other field, having a set of solid examples of your
work in a “professional portfolio” will be important for you to get an internship and/or your first full-time
job. So make sure you keep very clean copies of the work you do in this and all your PR classes.
Remember: no matter what score you received on any assignment, look for ways to make your examples
even better, if not “perfect.” Outside of your coursework you may ask for some help from us in the PR
faculty while you make your portfolio.
NOTE: We may alter aspects of these policies and the syllabus as the course progresses. You are
responsible for noting any such changes, which will be announced in class and/or posted on
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