This page highlights selected teaching points in the 2nd edition of Writing Winning Proposals PR Cases. Scroll down and click, for example, on crisis communication to preview two new and original concepts begging discovery and implementation.
The case of the International Art Exhibit Promotion in Writing Winning Proposals PR Cases is an example of how nuggets of wisdom are interwoven throughout the text. One of the requirements in this case is to plan to recruit 1500 volunteers to setup and operate the exhibit for several months. This case, like others, is accompanied by a useful article, "Start A Recruitment Epidemic" on Page 239. Included in the article are incentives that motivate people to volunteer their time and energy for a good cause. Such useful and instructive articles appear with each case throughout the text.
What students find interesting about the case of the Contaminated Lagoon beginning on Page 213 of Writing Winning Proposals PR Cases is that while names and places are fictitious the case is an actual event and the PR assistant in the role play who handled the case so professionally was a student intern from the Grady College of Journalism and Communication at the University of Georgia. She said, "I had no idea what was in store for me. When I was asked to travel to gather information for a hazardous waste project, I was excited. When I was told I'd be going alone, I was concerned. When I was told how soon I needed to be at the site I was terrified! I knew nothing about PCBs other than they were bad for the environment. The word carcinogen came to mind. I did not know anything about hazardous waste removal either. I researched what I could in a short time, and off I went to the airport." The rest of the story unfolds in the case role play.
A well known business principle is that it takes money to make money. Why shouldn't this principle be acceptable for nonprofit organizations? In the case of the Uncharitable Bloggers beginning on Page 205 of Writing Winning Proposals PR Cases, a dialogue over this issue among area bloggers stands to undermine a fundraising event, "Run For The Little Ones," organized by The Society For Little Children. The purpose of this case, based on actual events, is to provide students an experience in developing a plan for working with the new media in addressing a public relations problem.
Would you like to motivate your students to strive for creativity in their work? Do they have confidence in their creative abilities? Would they like to be seen as creative problem solvers? To get a grasp on this important area, ask students to write a 150-word essay under the title, "I am creative." Make their papers the focus of a class discussion on creativity, then ask students to read beginning on Page 111 in Writing Winning Proposals PR Cases the article by Dr. Deborah Morrison titled, "You Can Learn To Be The Idea Person." Then explain how structure frees up time and energy to think and write creatively and ask students to read Creativity In Public Relations Planning beginning on Page 116. They will see how every component of a public relations plan invites creative thinking. For example, can you describe the role of creativity in the development of a goal?
Chapter Seven, beginning on Page 205 of Writing Winning Proposals PR Cases, is a gateway to 14 more challenging cases. There are many ways for instructors to turn cases into lesson points. One is to have students write a complete public relations plan for each of a number of selected cases. Work can be done in teams and augmented by seven writing assignments related to each case. Another way is to assign a different case for every two-hour class period. Or, perhaps, a different case each week. Instead of developing complete plans, student teams might discuss case solutions in general terms and submit in writing at the end of each class a plan summary along with key activities. To ensure that every student is learning the components of a plan it would be advisable to assign the exercises related to plan components in Chapter Six.
What better way could there be to introduce a serious set of rules for writing the 10 components of a public relations plan, than by telling a whimsical story about "A Plan to Influence the Behavior of a Frog" The frog then becomes an icon always appearing with the rules as a reminder to keep the components simple and understandable. Everyone in the profession seems to have their own idea of how to write goals, objectives and strategies. Yet, when plans are written, even submitted in competitions, the terms end up used interchangeably, vague and usually without purpose. The author of Writing Winning Proposals PR Cases takes one of the boldest moves in the profession to define the 10 components of a public relations plan and to provide specific rules for writing each one. Writing plans by the rules makes plans so completely understandable to plan reviewers that the author knows from experience that once the definitions and rules are accepted and practiced that a PR professional will never be satisfied with writing a plan any other way. This chapter is the heart of the text. It is at the center of what makes this text a desk reference for professionals. Students who write plans by the rules for each case in the text are on their way to distinguishing themselves even from seasoned practitioners. To give students an opportunity to study professional plans with the use of critique forms , the text includes five Silver Anvil winning campaign summaries. Also included are worksheet templates for developing public relations plans. Hidden in this chapter is a feature that clients of plan writers would love to have, and that is the Progress Tracking Report shown on Page 194. With the use of this report, clients get an up-to-the-minute status report on plans with easy-to-read color codes indicating whether key activities are on or behind schedule, on or off target, and on or over budget.
Research and measurement come alive in Chapter Five on Page 63 of Writing Winning Proposals PR Cases. Students find a dramatic illustration of the invaluable use of research in an employee communication case titled, "Quality Out of Control." Personal interviews with members of a production staff are summarized in one or two-word responses illustrated in an array of brightly-colored signs from which confusion, inconsistencies, misinterpretations can readily be determined. The case leads to discussion based on the Gold Standard Paper by the Commission on Public Relations Measurement & Evaluation published by the Institute for Public Relations and presented in its entirety beginning on Page 76.
Do you know of a situation where a public relations practitioner planned an event and the outcome left no result because the event had no objective? For example, an open house is planned and the result is attendees left with no message, just nice impressions. In Chapter Four of Writing Winning Proposals PR Cases, beginning on Page 55, students learn about accountability in the planning process. Important points of accountability in event planning are illustrated in a breakfast conversation between two retired executive managers acted out by students in a role play titled, Getting Nothing for Something. In a sidebar hidden on Page 61 is a special way students can learn about accountability—planning special events as an intern in the White House.
Weaknesses of the public relations profession and how to eliminate them is the focus of Chapter Three, Writing and Leading with Integrity beginning on Page 41 in Writing Winning Proposals PR Cases. In this chapter, students must grapple with the regulatory, moral and social factors facing a company, a public relations consultant and government agencies in a case of looming disasters. Students also learn that in situations involving risk to health and safety a red flag must go up warning public relations professionals to heed the requirements for communicating risk, as explained on Pages 254 and 255, or unwittingly incite public outrage.
Among the nuggets of wisdom in Writing Winning Proposals PR Cases is guidance in how to work with an executive manager to establish a vision within an organization. In Chapter 2, Meeting the Challenges of the Planning Environment, there is a discussion beginning with paragraph five on Page 20 that provides step-by-step guidance in how to work with an executive manager to develop and win support of a vision in an organization. Also, beginning on Page 23 under Plan Developer, there is a discussion about the importance for a practitioner to be both a tactician an a strategist.
Writing Winning Proposals PR Cases encourages students to seek a definition of public relations that is meaningful to them. According to existing studies there are more than 400 definitions of public relations in use today. Can you define public relations in two words? Other professions are easily defined in two words: doctors practice medicine; lawyers practice law; journalists report news; accountants keep records. The author describes his quest for a definition after 30 years of professional practice and explains how he concluded that public relations practitioners influence behavior. In Chapter One, Understanding Why Planning Is Important, and How It Relates to Public Relations, beginning on Page 9, the author maintains that to fully appreciate how planning relates to public relations, it is necessary first to know precisely what public relations is and what can be expected of its practice. Thus, the discussion topic, What exactly is public relations? And, What are three reasons why planning is important in public relations? The importance of planning, then is illustrated in Case One Community Relations, titled "Mysterious Sound In Deschambault," beginning on Page 13.
Writing Winning Proposals PR Cases teaches students that a goal should describe a desired ultimate condition or state of being as though it has been achieved. (Acceptable: For XYZ to be operating as a recognized leader in its field. This is written as though the company has arrived at a new level of esteem—a new state of being. It would be unacceptable to write as a goal, for XYZ to become a recognized leader in its field, because that leaves XYZ in its current unrecognized position or state of being—trying to become a recognized leader. The text provides 25 examples of goals written by six rules on Page 164, and describes the four functions of a goal.
Writing Winning Proposals gives instructors of public relations opportunities to show that problem solving should be approached analytically and strategically. Unfortunately, there is widespread practice in the profession of throwing communication tools at problems to solve them. For example, "We can fix this reputation problem with a news release, fact sheet and two or three brochures." In writing activities (or tactics), students are instructed to describe the purpose of a tactic before suggesting its method of delivery. In other words, an activity or tactic should emphasize a strategic step rather than the vehicle to implement it. The text is written from a plan reviewer's perspective. For example, the question is posed, Why is the activity component of a plan of importance to plan reviewers? Response: Activities provide details of a strategy and reviewers want to assure themselves that they concur with the ways in which strategies are to be carried out. More than one activity usually is required to implement a strategy. Activities should be strategic steps, not a list of logistical chores (e.g. reserve conference room, pick up donuts, bring name tags, etc.). Activities should not be a skeleton list of communication tools.There are five rules on Page 182 that students should follow in writing activities or tactics.
Among many nuggets of wisdom woven into the text is a section with original concepts in the area of crisis communication, namely "CRISIS: By The Rule of Advanced Engagement," and a Crisis Code of Conduct. The section, begins on Page 287 with a case role play that centers students vicariously in a crisis situation as individuals die in an industrial accident. The lesson dramatically emphasizes the importance of preparedness. The section addresses the reasons why some organizations are able to shift easily into a crisis management mode while others treat a crisis as an operational disruption and have to manage their way out of chaos. It also provides a detailed discussion of barriers that communication professionals encounter to crisis planning and ways to overcome them. What more and more professionals have experienced in crisis situations is the need for crisis management to be based on intuitive principles. The text guides students in developing an "intuitive" Crisis Code of Conduct by having them select entries from one of the most comprehensive compilation of principles in crisis leadership, management, communication, spokesperson responsibilities, and media relations.