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senior seminar in Public Relations

College & Department

College of Arts and Humanities
Department of Communication


Elizabeth Toth

Semesters Offered

Fall 2006
Spring 2007

Course Description

COMM 483 is the capstone course for the undergraduate program in public relations.

This course is an integration of theory, techniques and research methods into the planning and execution of public relations campaigns for specific clients. It relies heavily on the analysis or research and case studies of public relations. The course requires active learning by students with an emphasis on creativity, strategic thinking and research methods. The course has the tenor of a workplace, as a means of helping students bridge from the academic to the professional environment.

In COMM 483, students are asked to use their training in public relations theory, techniques, and research to conduct research for a "real world" client, the Maryland Solar Decathlon LEAFHouse Team, and then plan a campaign based on research for that client. The majority of time spent in class was to plan, conduct and evaluate the research and campaign for the client.

Students work in teams to develop a public relations campaign their client. This problem involves research, planning, writing and presentation skills. The campaigns will be developed in small teams; therefore teamwork skills are critical for success.

Accomplishments (Thanks to the dedicated students of the COMM483 course for their great work!)

Media relations outcomes

  • 800 people invited to join the LEAFHouse Facebook group
  • Media pitch made to The Diamondback. Solar Decathlon Competition will be covered Fall, 2007.
  • Stories on the Solar Decathlon competition appeared on the Capital News Service website, the WTOP website, The Takoma Park/Silver SpringVoice, The Southern Maryland News Online, and the Regional Gazette Prince George’s County news.
  • Hard news release on the Solar Decathlon competition distributed to 12 newspapers and 6 television stations in Washington, DC and Baltimore areas.
  • Soft news release, featuring Sarah Durfee, distributed to 12 newspapers and 6 television stations in Washington, DC and Baltimore areas
  • The Communicator -- Communication Department newsletter
  • 600 leaflets promoting Earth Day and Maryland Day
  • 600 leaflets promoting the Solar Decathlon competition

Earth Day Outcomes (University of Maryland, Mall Table)

  • 103 Brochures distributed
  • 20 leaves distributed for $100 bookstore give-a-way
    (required participants to walk from the Mall to the house site)

Maryland Day (Mall Booth) Outcomes (Attendance was 70,000 overall)141 LEAFHouse flyers distributed

  • 1670 pieces of candy distributed
  • 700 informational seed packets distributed
  • Over 100 photographs taken with “Mr. Sunman” mascot
  • Picture of President Mote with Mr. Sunman
  • Student volunteers talked about the display model with too many people to count.

Maryland Day (School of Architecture Booth) Outcomes 20 handprints on Solar Decathlon banner

  • 15 Web cards distributed and 20 pictures taken at the SD house site
  • 50 visitors to the informational table

Tee-shirts29 White tee-shirts distributed to COMM 483 class members (worn on Maryland Day)

  • 68 Red tee-shirts provided to Solar Decathlon Team for fund-raising

Seed Packets

1000 seed packets with informational labels promoting the Solar Decathlon distributed to:

  • 650 Maryland Day visitors
  • 100 State of Maryland legislators
  • 120 Jewish Day School families
  • 103 Earth Day visitors

Lobbying Outcomes

  • 5 minute presentation to Student Government Association, distributed brochures and seed packets
  • letters, brochures, seed packets promoting the SD Competition mailed to 44 State of Maryland legislators
  • letters, brochures, seed packets promoting the SD Competition mailed to 17 US Senate Energy Committee members

Orientation and Image Tours

The Orientation and Image Tour Office agreed to include the Solar Decathlon house on the summer campus tours. Team provided the Office with fact sheet about the Solar Decathlon competition.

Outreach to School Children

Contacted Jewish Day School. Informational letter and seed packets delivered to JDS for 120 families

Faculty Breakfast on April 24

200 invitations delivered to faculty in Communication, Architecture, and Engineering. 100 Solar Decathlon brochures delivered post-breakfast to faculty mailboxes

University Classroom Presentations

The team gave 5 minute presentations to two large lecture classes, reaching approximately 300 students in the School of Architecture and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. 





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