PR Writing Lab: Effective Instructional Strategies in Action

Kalene Morgan, professor and certificate program coordinator in the school of Media Studies and Information Technology uses active reading, analysis and group interaction to teach students how to take charge and be proactive in producing written work that is convincing, on topic and to deadline.

For Immediate Release 
(Toronto, Ontario, December 20, 2011) – Students in the public relations graduate certificate program writing lab at Humber College are learning that what makes the news more than meets the eye, and public relations practitioners need to make the news with news hooks in news releases, crisply and convincingly, or risk their work meeting the news editor’s virtual trash can.

“Gaining learner attention with 40 ‘Twentysomethings’ at 9 a.m. on Monday mornings is a challenge overcome by starting right on time, engaging in student-driven ice-breakers, providing a topic agenda for the class, and connecting to the previous class before transitioning to a new topic,” says Kalene Morgan, professor and certificate program coordinator in the School of Media Studies and Information Technology (SMSIT).

“Learning proper public relations writing techniques is less didactic and more dynamic. Students do not sit in front of their computer terminals seeking search words for online news, and I do not stand in front lecturing from prepared notes. Instead, I draw on my notes for interactive discussion and separate the class into random groups, asking students to read actual hard print articles and to discuss their findings with peers, leading to broad sharing of insights and synthesis, which permits everyone to learn from each other, not just from me.

“For example, to identify the criteria that make an event newsworthy, whether hard or soft news, I ask students to locate specific newspaper and magazine articles with a range of news pegs or hooks as we in the business call them.”

“Kalene connects every topic to the public relations profession for which the students are being groomed,” observes Lydia Boyko, a recently-hired School faculty member.

To make the most efficient use of the class time, while being effective in communicating the key points about news hooks and making news, Kalene posts her notes, be they PowerPoint or other format, to Blackboard prior to the session. Students access the material ahead of time, review the content, practice the writing technique explained in the notes, and are ready to participate in more creative, self-directed learning exercises that demonstrate their understanding of the new writing technique or topic and ability to apply the knowledge to real-life situations discussed in the news.

About 120 students are enrolled in the Public Relations Certificate program for 2011-2012. The program is a longstanding offering within the School of Media Studies and Information Technology, at the Lakeshore campus.

Media Contact:
Will Teach, PhD, APR
will.teach@humber.ca

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