Communication and Media Studies 615

COMS 615: Seminar in Public Relations

Prerequisite: Graduate standing

Credit Hours: (3) Three hours seminar

Examination of the public relations profession and application of theoretical and research literature in public relations. Topics for discussion include: the public relations industry, role of public relations in organizations and society; public relations ethics, public relations roles, public relations strategies, and contemporary theories of public relations.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

I. Defining public relations

            A. PRSA, IABC, & IPRA
            B. Grunig
            C. Hazleton

II. The Hazleton & Long model of public relations

            A. The public relations environment
            B. The organizational subsystem
            C. The communication subsystem
            D. The target public subsystem

III. A systems view of the history of public relations as a profession

            A. The 1830s – the beginning
            B. 1870-1920 – the development of corporate America
            C. 1920-1970 – the middle years
            D. 1970-present – public relations as an applied social science
            E. The internationalization of public relations

IV. Grunig’s theory of public relations excellence

            A. Public relations world views
            B. The four models of public relations
            C. Characteristics of excellent public relations

V. Public relations roles research

            A. Technical roles
            B. Managerial roles

VI. Theories of publics

            A. Grunig’s situational theory
            B. Vasquez’s symbolic convergence approach to publics

VII. Theories of crisis communication

            A. Coomb’s crisis grid
            B. Apologia – a rhetorical approach

VIII. Areas of public relations practice

            A. Issues management
            B. Media relations
            C. Public affairs
            D. PR firms
            E. Fund raising

IX. Public relations ethics

            A. Professional codes of ethics
            B. Pearson’s concept of ethical public relations
            C. Kruckeberg’s concept of community as a basis for ethical practice.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Lecture, discussion, and seminar reports will be used. Emphasis will be placed on the application of theory to the solution of public relations problems in organizations.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to contemporary theory and research in public relations and to consider the relationship of theory to the professional practice of public relations. Students will be able to define public relations, describe the history of public relations in the United States, and describe and critically evaluate Grunig’s theory of public relations excellence, the Hazleton & Long model of the public relations process, Coomb’s crisis grid approach to crisis management, theories of publics, theories of ethical public relations, public relations roles research, and models of issues management. Students will be able to use theory to solve practical problems in public relations.


Assessment Measures

Examinations, papers, and seminar reports will be used to assess student learning.


Other Course Information


Review and Approval

Approved 3/23/99