Share your GOOD news: PRD invites you to participate in 2018 Spring Semester of Service


By Chris Wilson, BYU

In October, the PRD’s PF&R committee invited you to engage with the news. This spring, we encourage you to make some news of your own by participating in the 2018 Spring Semester of Service.

As you may recall, the PRD held its first-ever Spring Semester of Service last year to highlight the role of public relations in influencing organizational communication and ethics, and contributing to the public good. And, as you may expect from a profession that values social responsibility, mutually beneficial relationships and dialog, the response was inspiring. For a recap, check out the creative ways you and your students impacted your campuses and communities for good last spring.

In fact, the response to the Spring Semester of Service was so positive that we want to make it a tradition, a time every year when we can reflect on the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., who said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”

So, between Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 – and the end of National Volunteer Week – April 15-21, 2018 – the PRD will again highlight some of your public service-related activities. Whether you’re working with a public service-oriented client through a service-learning class or working with students to manage social media for a local nonprofit organization, we want to hear how you are making a positive impact in your corner of the world.

To make this work, we need you to tell us what you are doing so we can share your good news with our members via social media and through the PRD website. Please share your service-related stories with PF&R Chair Chris Wilson ( and/or Vice Chair Julia Fraustino (, and we will share them with the division.

Pay attention to PRD social media throughout the semester to see some of your fellow division members (and possibly you) highlighted as well. Thanks in advance for your time and help with these efforts and for what each of you are doing to serve your own communities!

PR UPDATE: Fall Conference Wrap-Up

Public Relations Update, the division’s quarterly news publication, is emailed to listserv members. To receive your copy of the newsletter, please sign up for the PRD Listserv.

Enjoy the current issue including the Chicago conference wrap-up and introduction of new executive leadership here: PRD Fall Update

Letters to the Editor, advertising inquiries and other general questions should be directed to editor Dean Mundy at

Interested in previous issues? Find them here.

#NewsEngagementDay Activity: Public Opinion Polls for Environmental Scanning

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

#NewsEngagementDay Activity: Examining News Differences by Platform

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

#NewsEngagementDay Activity: How do Press Releases Influence the News?

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.