Featured Post

COMSTRAT 383 - Spring 2016 Syllabus

COMSTRAT 383  – Creative Media Strategies & Techniques (3 CREDITS) Instructor:  Brett Atwood                                Office...

COMSTRAT 383 - Spring 2016 Syllabus

COMSTRAT 383  – Creative Media Strategies & Techniques

Instructor:  Brett Atwood                             
Office:  GWH 234                                                                        
Hours:  By appointment                                   
Phone:  (425) 405-1771
EMAIL:  batwood@wsu.edu



This course is designed to help students develop writing and speaking skills specific to public relations and media purposes. It aims to utilize traditional writing, social media and "real-time Web" persuasion and evaluation tactics for the purpose of showing how to understand, identify and target audiences, including media gatekeepers. Students are encouraged to develop ethical thinking and planning skills with the final goal of creating a portfolio that demonstrates their talents and skills in persuasion.

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of principles in writing for public relations materials across multiple channels, industries and cultures.
  • Master the skill of resourcefulness – demonstrating the ability to critically think, research, draft and ultimately craft clear messages and finished product that is organized and uses correct grammar, punctuation, spelling and AP Style standards. 
  • Develop professional skills valued in public relations industry through hands-on learning and application.


Class Portfolio

Throughout the semester, you will be working on a portfolio/project designed to use your PR skills. You will develop a media usage plan for a client that you choose -- approved by this instructor.

The class project will include the following which will all relate to the selected organization (client):

  1. History/Backgrounder of the organization/activity or one of its major events.
  2. A preliminary Strategic Plan
    1. An early draft will be turned in for credit, but it will later be revised before the end of the semester
  3. Online research survey (via Google Forms)
  4. Two news/press releases
  5. Fact sheet
  6. Media target list
  7. Newsletter design (2-4 pages)
  8. An e-mail campaign piece
  9. One-page overview of a digital strategy for your client, including social media
  10. Your resume (on LinkedIn and/or on a digital portfolio site).
You will be completing the project parts throughout the semester. Attach your resume to the project at the end of the semester.

You must describe and show the complete portfolio, near the end of the semester, to the entire class. At that time, you will turn it in for final grading. Plan to have the final version of the project bound or presented in a binder or folder suitable for sharing with the organization. (Make two copies: one for you to keep and one for me to evaluate). Neatness and organization of the portfolio and the class presentation will be very important.

COURSE TOPICS (Subject to Change):
  • Learning Google Documents
  • Preparing for Writing/PR Writing Basics
  • Portfolio Overview
  • Learning LinkedIn
  • Preparing a Strategic Plan
  • Press Releases
  • Social Media Press Releases
  • Learning Google Forms
  • Backgrounders & Fact Sheets
  • Ethics
  • Best Practices in Working with the Media
  • Content Strategy Case Studies
  • Twitter and "Real Time Web" Monitoring Tools
  • Viral PR & Digital Marketing Tactics
  • Facebook and PR
  • Wikis & PR
  • Newsletters
  • Learning I-Builder
  • Measurement & Evaluation Best Practices
  • Learning Google Analytics


Grading criteria for written assignments will include:
  • Grammar and AP style
  • Critical thinking
  • Application of public relations techniques demonstrated in the textbook and in class lectures/exercises
  • Arguments are well-defended
  • Organization of thought




Strategic Plan (draft)



Google Forms Survey



Backgrounder (draft)



Fact Sheet (draft)


Two original press releases (drafts)



Media list


Digital strategy (draft)

Newsletter (draft)

E-mail Campaign or brochure (draft)

Portfolio - Final Version

Final Exam



Grading Scale:


points total


Points total


375 - 400C+300 -314


360 -374C285-299


345 -359C-
270 -284


330 -344D+255 -269
B-315 -329D
240 - 254

0 - 239


This course has a heavy dependence on use of technology and students will be expected to have access to Internet-connected computers so that they may complete each assignment. Some in-class lab time will be provided, but students should expect that much of their course work will be completed in labs or on their own computers outside of class.

Due to the rapidly changing nature of the technology and tools used in this course, specific hardware, software and online services used may vary each semester as new digital technologies and practices emerge into the mainstream.


Room 162 (Computer Lab) will be open for student use during. This syllabus will be updated with computer lab hours shortly.

For desktop support in the computer labs, please contact (425) 405-1592.


Copyright (2016) Brett Atwood.

This syllabus and all course-related materials, presentations, lectures, etc. are my intellectual property and may be protected by copyright. Selling class notes through commercial note taking services, without my written advance permission, could be viewed as copyright infringement and/or an academic integrity violation, WAC 504-26-010 (3)(a,b,c,i). Further, the use of University electronic resources (e.g., Blackboard) for commercial purposes, including advertising to other students to buy notes, is a violation of WSU’s computer abuses and theft policy (WAC 504-26-218), a violation of WSU’s Electronic Communication policy (EP 4), and also violates the terms of use for the Blackboard software program.

Discriminatory Conduct Statement

Discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct (including stalking, intimate partner violence, and sexual violence) is prohibited at WSU (See WSU Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct (Executive Policy 15) and WSU Standards of Conduct for Students).

If you feel you have experienced or have witnessed discriminatory conduct, you can contact the WSU Office for Equal Opportunity (OEO) and/or the WSU Title IX Coordinator at 509-335-8288 to discuss resources, including confidential resources, and reporting options. (Visit oeo.wsu.edu for more information).

Most WSU employees, including faculty, who have information regarding sexual harassment or sexual misconduct are required to report the information to OEO or a designated Title IX Coordinator or Liaison.  (Visit oeo.wsu.edu/reporting-requirements for more info).

Academic Integrity Statement

Washington State University, a community dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, expects all Academic integrity will be strongly enforced in this course. Cheating is defined in the Standards for Student Conduct WAC 504-26-010(3). It is strongly recommended that you read and understand these definitions:  http://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=504-26-010.

Violation of academic integrity on any assignment will involve (i) an academic penalty ranging from a minimum of both a zero on that assignment and the reduction of a full letter grade on your final grade to failure of the entire course, (ii) filing of case with the Office of Student Conduct, and per university regulations, (iii) inability to withdraw from the course.

More information regarding WSU policies can be found at: http://academicintegrity.wsu.edu/

Reasonable Accommodation Syllabus Statement

Reasonable accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. If you have a disability and need accommodations to fully participate in this class, please either visit or call the Access Center (Washington Building 217; 509-335-3417) to schedule an appointment with an Access Advisor. All accommodations MUST be approved through the Access Center.

Pullman, Everett or WSU Online: 509-335-3417  http://accesscenter.wsu.edu, Access.Center@wsu.edu
Spokane: http://spokane.wsu.edu/students/current/studentaffairs/disability/
Tri-Cities: http://www.tricity.wsu.edu/disability/
Vancouver: 360-546-9138 http://studentaffairs.vancouver.wsu.edu/student-resource-center/disability-services

Campus and Classroom Safety Statement

Classroom and campus safety are of paramount importance at Washington State University, and are the shared responsibility of the entire campus population.  WSU urges students to follow the “Alert, Assess, Act” protocol for all types of emergencies and the “Run, Hide, Fight” response for an active shooter incident. Remain ALERT (through direct observation or emergency notification), ASSESS your specific situation, and ACT in the most appropriate way to assure your own safety (and the safety of others if you are able).

Please sign up for emergency alerts on your account at MyWSU. For more information on this subject, campus safety, and related topics, please view the FBI’s Run, Hide, Fight video and visit the WSU safety portal.

For the Everett campus, all students should also be enrolled in the local RAVE Emergency Alert system. If you are not already registered, please do so at: https://www.getrave.com/login/everettcc. You can also find Everett-specific emergency information at https://www.everettcc.edu/emergency/

First Week Class Attendance (Rule 72)

Students who do not attend class during the first week of the semester will likely be dropped from the course. Students with extenuating circumstances should notify the Office of Student Affairs.   Valid reasons for missing class do not relieve the student of their responsibility for that missed work.

Academic Regulations, Rule 34a

Students may only repeat a course graded C- or below one time at WSU during fall or spring semesters.  Additional repeats are allowed from another institution or at WSU during summer terms or by special permission of the academic unit offering the course.


University Communication with Students

Absolutely NO communication will be sent to external addresses (e.g., yahoo, gmail, and so forth). We will use either the email within Blackboard or “email.wsu.edu” system.

Late/Missed Work & Incomplete Policy

Late work is not accepted in this class. Tests and quizzes missed due to absence cannot be made up. Do not ask for after-the-fact exceptions. Some consideration, however, might be given (at the discretion of the instructor) if there is extenuating circumstances such as prolonged hospitalization, family death, or extended individual sickness previously discussed. In cases of documented university conflict, you are responsible for making alternative arrangements a minimum of two weeks in advance and responsibilities must be fulfilled before the normally scheduled time.

Incompletes will NOT be given except in cases of documented emergencies, and the student must be passing the course at the time the Incomplete is requested.  The Incomplete will be assigned ONLY for those circumstances (sickness, accident, death) that meet the literal interpretation of Academic Rule, 90h.  Sickness, accident or death must be documented.

Class Attendance

Attendance is both mandatory and critical to your success in this class, and I will be taking attendance throughout the course of the semester. Since attendance is a critical factor in the functioning of a participation based class, in group as well as classroom activities, more than three unexcused absences (including those from classes held at any alternative meeting places) may result in an automatic failure of this course. Please notify me immediately (or in advance if possible) via email regarding absence due to emergency, illness, athletic or other University sponsored activities. If you expect to be absent for more than the accepted number of absences due to an outside activity, please consult with both me and the program advisor before missing classes. Arriving more than fifteen minutes late for class will be counted as an absence. Some consideration, however, may be given (on a limited basis and at the discretion of the instructor) if there are extenuating circumstances for highly infrequent tardiness.

You are responsible for finding out what you missed on the days that you were absent. Be sure to get the name and contact information of someone else in the class so that you can easily get copies of the notes and materials that you missed..

Instructor-Student Interaction

I will generally respond to emails within 24 hours during the week. My expectation is the same for students. You need also to check your email regularly and respond within 24 hours. I generally do not respond to emails during the weekend. Nor is it expected that you will respond over the weekend. I generally do not discuss grades or any student records issues via email. Please schedule a meeting with me to discuss these issues. If necessary, I may ask you to submit a written petition together with your work in question. The classroom is typically not an appropriate place for these discussions.

In-Class Technology & Mobile Phone Use Policy

Some assignments may require use of a computer laptop or other technology during the class. Otherwise, students are required to keep cell phones on vibrate or have calls transferred to voicemail while in class.  You may not take calls, text or engage in non-class related web or mobile activity while in class. The instructor reserves the right to ask students who violate this policy repeatedly to leave the classroom. Repeat violations of this policy may be cause for a reduced grade or course credit.

In-Class Video & Audio Recording Policy

Students should not record audio or video of the instructor or other students in the classroom without first procuring permission or consent from all recorded subjects. Washington state is a "two-party consent" state that requires the consent of every party to a phone call or conversation in order to make the recording lawful. For more information on the legality of recording in the classroom, see: "Is it legal to record your teachers or professors?"