Aun - Media Relations

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Georgetown University
3101 Wilson Blvd., (Room TBD) Arlington, Va.,
(Metro: Orange Line-Clarendon)

Media Relations & Messaging in a New Media World (MPPR 715-01)

Instructor: Leslie Aun                             Email:
Phone: 703-517-4550                                Office Hours: By appointment
Meeting: Thursdays, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.            Term: Spring 2011

Course Description: This course is designed to help you better understand the role
and practice of media relations and messaging in corporate, non-profit, and government
organizations in this new media era. You will learn how to research media and
reporters, develop messages, build strategic media plans, generate media coverage,
serve as spokespeople, handle crisis situations, and use new media strategies. You will
hear from public relations professionals on such topics as working with reporters,
developing PR campaigns, and creating effective web outreach programs. Class
discussions, reading assignments, research and writing projects, group projects, and
case studies offer an engaging and interactive learning environment to expand and
apply your knowledge of media relations and messaging.

Learning Goals:
By the end of the term, you will be able to:
     Practice media relations in a range of organizational settings
     Plan, implement and manage media and new media programs
     Develop messages and build conversations with target audiences
     Conduct media interviews with print, broadcast and online outlets
     Create a social media news release and a PR video for YouTube
     Sharpen your critical thinking and communication skills

Instructor Profile: Leslie Aun has 20 years of experience in leading media relations
programs for companies and non-profit organizations and is currently the vice president
of Communications and Marketing for TDNC LLC, an O2O start-up based in Reston, VA.
Previously, she served as VP of PR for the World Wildlife Fund, where she was also
managing director for Earth Hour, the largest global environmental event in history for
which she received the Public Relations Society of America’s 2010 Silver Anvil Award.
Before joining WWF, she was Chief Communications Officer for Special Olympics. Other
experience includes leadership roles at Sodexo, MCI, and Folio Investing. She began
her career as a journalist, writing for The Washington Business Journal and reporting on
business news for WUSA-Channel 9 and WTOP News Radio. She is a graduate of the
University of Virginia where she earned a BA in Government. She lives in Northern
Virginia with her husband and their two teen-aged children.

Class Philosophy: This course combines case studies, guest speakers, group
discussions, and student presentations for an interactive and informative learning
environment. The homework assignments and in-class presentations are designed to help
you better understand and apply the principles and practices of media relations and
messaging. You are expected to be active and informed participants in class discussions.
Since discussions will often include current events, you are expected to possess a solid

understanding of current national and international news and events, as well as topics on
the nation’s cultural agenda.

Attendance: Attendance is necessary for success in this class. If you miss more than
two classes, your final grade will drop a letter grade. Special circumstances should be
discussed with me immediately to receive consideration. In the event you need to miss
a class, please notify me by e-mail prior to the start of the class. It will be your
responsibility to get the notes from another classmate. Please note class starts
promptly at 5:30 p.m. and finishes at 7:30 p.m.

Work Submitted and Presented: All assignments must be completed and submitted
on time. All typed text should be in 12-point font, 1.5 line-spaced, and be spell-checked.
Please follow the Associated Press style guide for your written papers. If you do not
have an AP style book, please buy, borrow or check one out of the library. Please
include your name, the assignment title, and the date on all written submissions. Please
bring a hard copy of your assignment to class the night it is due. If you need to miss a
class, please send me the assignment via email before the class begins. Late work is
dropped a half grade for each week it is late. If you have extenuating circumstances,
please let me know in advance of the due date and I will do my best to accommodate

Ethics Statement: As signatories to the Georgetown University Honor Pledge, and
indeed as good scholars and citizens, you are expected to uphold academic honesty in
all aspects of this course. You are expected to be familiar with the letter and spirit of the
Standards of Conduct outlined in the Georgetown Honor System and on the Honor
Council website. As faculty, I too am obligated to uphold the Honor System and report
all suspected cases of academic dishonesty. For more information, please visit

Academic Resource Center
If you believe you have a disability, then you should contact the Academic Resource
Center ( for further information. The Center is located in the
Leavey Center, Suite 335. The Academic Resource Center is the campus office for
reviewing documentation provided by students with disabilities and for determining
reasonable accommodations with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and University

Civility Statement: Class discussions require active listening and participation by all of
us. However, one voice at a time! Please be respectful of opinions that might differ from
yours. Please provide thoughtful comments and don’t just speak for the sake of
speaking. Cell phones, iPods, computer games, and other distractions are not permitted
during class. As a reminder, the use of laptop computers should be restricted to taking
notes or other class-related work and not for email, Facebook etc. There will be a five to
ten-minute break during each class, time permitting.

Georgetown University Honor Pledge
In the pursuit of high ideals and rigorous standards of academic life, I commit myself to
respect and uphold the Georgetown University Honor System: to be honest in any
academic endeavor, and to conduct myself honorably, as responsible member of the
Georgetown community, as we live and work together.

You must establish a Facebook, Twitter and YouTube account if you do not have them

Required daily reading: The Washington Post, Politico.
Required weekly reading: The New York Times Sunday edition A-section and Week in

Suggested reading/viewing: The New York Times, USA Today, The Daily Beast, Huffington
Post, Wall Street Journal, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, MSNBC, CNN, National Public
Radio, Fox News and various Sunday morning talk shows.

Readings and Research: There is no official textbook for this session, although
readings will be frequently assigned from various publications. Students are expected to
read at least one major daily newspaper per day and keep informed about news from
other sources, including the Internet. Please be sure to complete all assigned readings
prior to class and come prepared to discuss the topics. You will be asked to conduct a
number of research projects that will involve online research and analysis.

Class Discussions/Participation: The success of the class depends in part on the
value of contributions made by you and the other students. You are expected to
contribute as an active participant and an attentive listener.

Guest Speakers: We will host a number of guest speakers from the media and the PR
world to provide more in-depth perspectives on many of the topics covered during the
14-class term. A Q&A session is planned for each guest speaker.

News Digest: Each class will begin with a five-minute News Digest. We will discuss
current news, media and new media trends, and issues of interest. For some classes,
you will be assigned a topic for discussion during News Digest. Your participation in
News Digest is part of your class discussion grade.

Course Summary at a Glance

CLASS DATE                 FOCUS/TOPIC                     ASSIGNMENT DUE
                                                              THAT DAY
Thursday,          Introductions/Course
January 13         Overview/Expectations
                   Class discussion: What makes
                   news? The tools of your trade.
                   Biggest PR blunders/wins of 2010.
                   In-class group project: Break into
                   teams of two and write a press
                   release about your partner for
                   presentation in class.
                   Overview of Assignment #1, Twitter
                   Assignment and Final Assignment.
Thursday           Current PR Trends and the Role of     #1 Media and Reporter
January 20         New Media                             Research Presentation
                   Guest Speaker: Dave Groobert,

              General Manager, Environics
              Presentations to class: Assignment
              Overview of Assignment #2
Thursday,     Working With Reporters 101
January 27      Building Relationships with
                Message Development
                The Use of Social Media

              The Journalist’s Perspective on PR
              People and Pitches
              Guest Speaker: Buzz McClain,
              contributing writer to The
              Washington Post, Ft Worth Star
              Telegram, Playboy Magazine
Thursday,     Writing for the Media – From Press    #2 Media Briefing Document
February 3    Releases to Tweets
              How to write a compelling Op-Ed,
              letter to the editor, press release
              and Tweet

              In-class group project: Developing
              Op-Eds. Class broken into groups
              of 3-4, each group given an issue.
              Groups will develop message for
              relevant op-ed, suggest byline, key
              messages. Ideas presented in
              class in 2-3 minute presentations.
              Overview of Assignment #3
Thursday,     Media Outreach: Developing a          #3—Op-Ed Writing
February 10   message and making the pitch          Assignment (600-800 word
              Guest Speaker: Dan Forman,            paper)
              World Wildlife Fund
              Class Discussion w/Dan Forman:
                Developing a great message
                Effective media pitching
              Overview of Assignment #4
Thursday,     Pitching the Media part 2             #4—Pitch Strategy
February 17                                         Development
              Classroom exercise: Pitch practice.
              Pitching the strategy developed in
              Assignment #4.

              Overview of Final Project and
              expectations for 2/24 class
Thursday,     Final Project: Meet the Client        Before this class please review
February 24   Guest Speaker: Meg Galloway           website for Clinton Bush Fund
              Pearce, Vice President of             and research the current

               Marketing and Communications,       political, economic situation in
               Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund. Q&A and    Haiti. Be prepared to ask
               Class Discussion                    insightful questions of our
                                                   guess speaker.
               Overview of Assignment #5
Thursday,      The Art and Science of Media        #5 Not-For-Profit Pitch
March 3        Training
               Guest Speaker: Andy Gilman,
               President CommCore Consulting
                 Preparing for an interview
                 Getting your message across
                 Hostile audiences
                 Bridging
                 Training a client for an
                   important interview
Thursday,       Crisis Communications 101
March 17         Overview
                 Dos and Don’ts
                 Case studies
                 Creating crisis communication
               In-class project: Groups will be
               given a client in a crisis situation.
               You’ll have 30 minutes to develop a
               crisis communications plan. Plans
               presented in class.
               Overview of Assignment #6
Thursday,      Polling and Research as a Media       #6—Crisis Response
March 24       Relations Tool                        Analysis
               Guest speaker: Amy Leveton of
               Penn Schoen Berland Group
               Presentation: Crisis Response

Thursday,      When Nobody Knows Your Name:        #7 Twitter Analysis and
March 31       PR for Start-ups, Unknowns and      Engagement. 2-3 page paper
               the Not-so-Sexy Client              + class presentation and
               Guest speaker: Chance               discussion.
               Patterson, Vice President of
               Communication, Discovery
               Communications. Former VP of PR
               at XM Radio.
Thursday,      Creating PR Events
April 7        Earth Hour: A Case Study;
               Creating an event check-list
               Small group project: Each group
               given a client and must plan an
               event to help their client make a

                    media splash. Groups to present
                    their plans in class.
                    Overview of Assignment #8
Thursday,           Teams work on final project in    #8 Creating News for the
April 14            Class                             Not-So-Sexy Client
                    Presentation: Not-So-Sexy PR Plan

Thursday,    Final Project Presentations                    Final Project Submitted
April 28

Assignments: There are eight assignments in addition to the final project. Papers and
presentations should not exceed length and time restrictions. A description of each
follows. Dates and topics may change slightly as we move through the semester. Any
changes will be discussed in class beforehand.

#1 Media and Reporter Research Presentation—Select a media outlet and reporter
from a list provided during first class. Conduct research to gather the following
 Media outlet overview (audience figures, frequency, history, publisher/media owner,
    target audience); Key editorial sections or news programming information; Extent of
    online presence
 Reporter profile including beats and columns if applicable. Review of recent
    articles/stories (what has the reporter been covering?). Review of blog posts or
    Tweets. Analysis of their writing/reporting style. Do they use quotes, facts, outside
    experts, unnamed sources?
 Based on what you learned, how would you pitch this reporter if you were doing PR
    for a company or organization he/she covers? How would you interact with the
    reporter on his/her blog or Twitter account?
You will share the highlights of your findings in a brief (2 minute) oral presentation to the
class and use this information in completing Assignment #2.

#2 Media Briefing Document—You will be given the name of a client and interview
situation. Utilizing the information gathered in Assignment #1, you will develop an
internal Q&A and message document for your client, intended to help him/her prepare
for the interview with the reporter you have researched. Include five questions that are
likely to be asked based on your knowledge of the reporter and media outlet, short
answers for each and three key messages to convey. Include at least two difficult
questions and then bridge it back to a key message. (2-3 pages)

#3 Op Ed Writing Assignment—Each student will be assigned to write a 600 to 800
word op-ed based on the issue discussed during their in-class group project work on 2/3.
Include a list of three outlets where you would recommend trying to place the Op-Ed.

#4 Pitch Strategy Development—You will be given a story to pitch to a member of the
news media. For this assignment create both a pitch email and short script for pitching
via telephone. Provide the name of three media outlets where you would pitch this story
and why. Be prepared in class on 2/17 to deliver your telephone pitch in front of the

#5 Not-For-Profit Pitch: Select an not-for-profit organization and provide an overview of
its mission and goals, current campaigns and a summary of recent media coverage.
Based on that research, identify a potential story to pitch the media in regards to the
organization and draft a press release. Select four relevant media outlets (including at
least 1 print and 1 broadcast) and explain your rationale. (3 page maximum).

#6 Crisis Analysis—Identify a public figure, company or organization that has faced a
high profile crisis. Describe the situation and their response. Did the person, company or
organization handle the crisis effectively? Why or why not? If you had led their response
team, what actions would you have recommended? (3 page max + class presentation).

#7 Twitter Analysis and Engagement—During the first week of class you will establish
a Twitter account to be used during the semester. You will select either a large company
or a non-profit organization to follow. Throughout the semester, you will track the topics
and tactics they employ for their Tweets and write a 2-3 page paper analyzing their
Twitter strategy including five Tweets you would have recommended. Class presentation
and discussion.

#8 Creating News for the Not-So-Sexy Client: You will be given the name of a client
that isn’t particularly well-known or sexy. You are charged with creating three ideas to
generate media coverage. Your proposal should include objectives, audiences and
tactics, including potential media targets. It can also include events and/or research and
surveys. (2 page max)

Final Project (35% of your final grade)—You will work in teams of four or five students
(depending on class size) to develop a communications plan for the Clinton Bush Haiti
Fund. As a suggested outline, your plan should include the following sections:
    Executive Summary
    Objectives
    Target Audiences
    Relevant Research
    Key Messages
    Communication Recommendations
       --Tactics (to include a YouTube video used to promote the organization to a
       target audience or a media outlet, not to exceed 90 seconds. Can be recorded
       with flip camera, mobile phone camera or other similar device).
    Timeline
    Required Resources
    Success Metrics

10 page max. You will present your recommendations to the client on the last day of
class with a time limit not to exceed 15 minutes. You will be given 5 minutes of set-up
time between presentations. Please adhere to these time limits.

Summary of Grading                            Grading Scale
Total points: 1,000                            A        940-1000
Weekly Assignments--45%                        A-       900-939
Class Discussion and Participation—20%         B+       880-899
Final Project—35%                              B        840-879

                                              B-         800-839
                                              C          700-799
                                              F          699 and

About the Grading:
Written Assignments—Grades for written assignments are based on the following
      Completeness—Is the assignment completed correctly?
      Quality—Are ideas and research information communicated effectively?
      Creativity—Does the assignment demonstrate creative and strategic thinking?
      Comprehensiveness—Are multiple options, solutions, or ideas considered?

Oral Presentations—On projects that involve a written and oral presentation, grading is
split 50 percent on the paper and 50 percent on the presentation. Grading criteria for
oral presentations:
      Quality—Did the presentation convey the key points of this assignment?
      Clarity—Was the information presented clearly and effectively?
      Time—Was the presentation delivered in the time allotted?

Class Discussion—Grading criteria for class discussion:
    Quality contributions, i.e., thoughtful comments or questions that related to the
    Willingness to participate in discussion.
    Ability to listen and respond with appropriate comments or questions.
    Respect and attentiveness shown to instructors, speakers and classmates.


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