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Public Relations Writing

Course Code: CMNS 3700
Faculty: Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Department: Communications
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course introduces the fundamentals of strategic communications and public relations practice for the professional communicator. Students will learn effective communication strategies for crisis communications scenarios, strategic communications planning, marketing communications, and public relations programs.

Course Content

1. Strategic Communication Theory

Students will be able to

  • define marketing communication and public relations
  • describe the social theories of PR theorists (Lee, Bernays, Grunig, and others)
  • describe communication channels (for example, paid advertising, media relations)
  • identify potential blocks or barriers to effective communication
  • identify crisis communication scenarios
  • outline the components of the RACE and ROSIE theories
  • explain the role of research in message development and issue identification
  • describe different communication vehicles (for example, brochures, videos)
  • appreciate the value of strategic communication planning
  • use measurement and evaluation criteria
  • learn how to identify key audiences and publics
  • understand the role of repetition in message sending

2. Strategic Communication Practice

Students will be able to 

  • explain the role of the communication/PR specialist within the organizational environment
  • describe communication and public relations activities and writing tasks
  • evaluate and respond to crisis communication scenarios
  • understand and demonstrate the distinctions between strategy and tactics
  • describe strategies for managing image and reputation
  • write a strategic communication plan
  • understand the different components of public relations practice
  • describe the role of internal and external communication
  • understand the ethics, law, and responsibility of public relations

Methods of Instruction

Some or all of the following methods will be used:

1. lecture/discussion

2. group work

3. peer review

4. team projects

5. instructor feedback on students’ work

6. individual consultation

7. presentation (individual or group)

8. guest speakers

9. field trips

Means of Assessment

Students are expected to be self-motivated and to demonstrate professionalism, which includes active participation, good attendance, punctuality, effective collaboration, ability to meet deadlines, presentation skills, and accurate self-evaluation.

Evaluation will be based on this general format:

Writing samples (for example, press releases, media advisory, news story  20%
Audience identification, crisis scenario, and press conference 20%
Crisis communication case study 20%
Strategic communication plan 30%
Professionalism/participation (as defined above) 10%

Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to

1. Explain the theory and models of strategic communications and public relations

2. Describe the role of the communications/PR professional

3. Identify and use  the strategies, tactics, and techniques of crisis communications and PR programs

4. Understand and perform various PR writing tasks for specific audiences and purposes

5. Develop, write, and assess a strategic communications plan

course prerequisites

Acceptance into the Post-Degree Diploma in Professional Communication 

or a minimum of 45 credit hours including a university-transfer course in English, Communications, or Creative Writing with a grade of B or higher

or permission of the Professional Communication program coordinator



curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.