Students need critical thinking skills to assess how news is part of the environmental scanning function of PR. Choose 1) a public opinion poll in the news and 2) one or more organizations with interests related to the poll. Break students into groups and ask them to assess how the poll pertains to their organization, first using the opportunities and threats from SWOT analysis and then, if applicable, using Hallahan’s (2000) typology of publics. Analyze the different groups of people using Hallahan’s (2000) typology: Does the poll demonstrate the levels of knowledge and involvement of different publics? Are there active publics to which the organization may need to respond in the future, or are there inactive publics that need to become activated? (Hallahan, 2001). Share thoughts using #NewsEngagementDay and #NewsValue
Idea from: Lauren Bayliss, Georgia Southern University
Description: According to Pew Research, websites and social media platforms are the most common places used by Americans to get news. 1. Poll your students on the methods they use to get their news. 2. Assign a current event or news topic to the class, such as “Hurricane Irma.” Ask different groups of students to search for news on the topic across methods/platforms. How does the presentation of news content on the same topic vary by print, television, radio, and online methods? 3. Because most Americans consume news via social media (most often via Twitter), how does this affect media relations and PR? Should pitching, press releases, content creation, etc. differ? Share thoughts using #NewsValue and #NewsEngagementDay
Idea from: Katie Place, Quinnipiac University
Description: Thousands of press releases are distributed to media outlets every day. They cover topics including new products, events, new hires, project progress, and news affecting various communities. But how much influence do press releases have on news coverage? Have students identify an organization in which they are interested or would like to work. Have the students locate recently distributed press releases on the organization’s website or through a newswire. Next, have students search for corresponding news coverage. After students compare and contrast press release and news coverage, engage in a discussion about what they found. Which, if any, elements of the press release(s) were used in corresponding news coverage? Why do you think the press release(s) influenced (or didn’t influence) news coverage the way it did? Have students tweet their insights and industry best practices for maximizing the potential for press releases to influence news coverage. Make sure students include #NewsValue #NewsEngagementDay to be part of the larger conversation!
Idea from: Matthew S. VanDyke, Appalachian State University
This assignment was adapted from Flowers, A. A. (2016). Global writing for public relations: Connecting in English with stakeholders and public worldwide. New York: Routledge.
Description: Have students read trending news from various news outlets and select the most valuable news story that is closely related to their service-learning client(s). Have the students share/retweet/regram the news story and tag their clients on social media. Have students include a short description of why they think the story is critical and newsworthy for the clients. Make sure to have the students (and encourage the clients to) include #NewsValue and #NewsEngagementDay when posting.
Idea from: Yi Grace Ji, Virginia Commonwealth University
Description: PR practitioners involved in media relations must develop a keen sense of newsworthiness for success. A variety of terms describe the characteristics of news, such as proximity, prominence, significance, timeliness, unusualness, etc. Have students identify a trending news topic and read stories about the topic from several news outlets. Have students select the story that resonated the most with them and then identify the news values that made that particular story newsworthy. Have students post a picture on social media of the story part they felt had the strongest news value. Have them include a short description of what made the story newsworthy. Make sure to have them include #NewsValue and #NewsEngagementDay.
Idea from: Chris Wilson, Brigham Young University