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COMSTRAT 383 - Spring 2016 Syllabus

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

WEEKS 11 & 12: Learning Google Forms and Vertical Response


For the next couple of weeks, we will:
  • Learn how to create and distribute an online survey using Google Forms. Students will create a sample survey that helps to gather information that can be used to help fine tune the strategic plan.
  • Learn how to create and distribute original newsletters and e-mail campaigns using Vertical Response and/or other tools.
  • Examine various digital persuasion, social media and viral videos strategies in the PR and advertising industries.
  • Create a sample survey to gather feedback on key messaging ideas for your campaign using Google Forms. 
  • Create a one-page overview of a potential digital strategy for your client. Please complete and include in your final portfolio, due near the end of April.
    • This might take the form of a revised Web page, viral PR video campaign or other digital element.
    • Please make sure that your thoughts on the digital component of your campaign are addressed either on a separate piece of paper or within the strategic plan.
    • If you don't feel that there should be a digital component to your campaign, then please justify that position.
    • Add this overview to your portfolio for the final version that is due near the end of the semester.
  • Create an e-mail campaign piece for your client using Vertical Response. Please send me your completed email by April 7.

Portfolio Assignment: E-Mail Campaign

Use Vertical Response to create a targeted email campaign on behalf of your client. Include a copy of this as a downloadable .pdf in your portfolio. Note: You do NOT need to actually "distribute" your email campaign! However, you can email a copy to yourself (and me) under the "Send Test" button on the top right top of the screen.

Please send me a copy of your completed email campaign no later than April 7. Also, please have a printed copy of your email in your final portfolio.

Learning Vertical Response Email Builder

Create an email campaign for your client

To create an e-mail campaign for your client, you can use a free Web-based program for email content development and distribution. There are literally dozens of services and programs to choose from, but we will use the Vertical Response for our training.

Additional Resources:

For help and tutorials, visit the Support page.

There's also some free Marketing Resources on this page.

Three Practice Images:

    Google Drive - How to Build a Survey

    You can use Google Drive to create form surveys to send out or publish on a website. Watch this video tutorial to learn how:

    More info:

      Portfolio Assignment: Create a Survey

      Create a survey using the Forms feature on Google Drive.

      Construct a seven question survey that you can use to gather potential information from your targeted audience for your client.

      You can use this survey to test key messaging concepts or ideas and/or to determine what the needs are of the potential user base for your product or service.

      You do not need to distribute the survey after completion! However, you should print out a copy for inclusion in your final portfolio and to turn in.

      DUE DATE:  March 31

      In-Class Assignment: Google Forms Training

      For this practice survey design assignment, your client is Washington State University. WSU is looking to gather information about attitudes and interests of the student population towards campus-sponsored events and clubs. The information gathered might help it develop future marketing and promotion campaigns geared at increasing student participation in these activities.

      Please use the Forms feature of Google Drive to create a new survey for WSU with seven questions, including at least one of each of the following question styles:
      • Multiple choice question
      • Checkbox question
      • Short answer style question
      • Linear Scale question
      • Multiple Choice Grid question
      Then, after the survey is completed, share it with three students in the class so that you have some actual response data to view. You can access your survey results in your Google Drive dashboard.

      WEEKS 9 & 10 OVERVIEW: Media Target Lists & Working with the Media


      For the next couple of weeks, we will:
      • Further revise/refine our campaign materials
      • Discuss both the traditional and social press release formats
      • Use CisionPoint, a popular PR database resource, to create a media target list for our client

      Students should:
      • Reading:
        • For the next couple of weeks, please read the following:
          • Chapter 3 ("Finding and Making News")
          • Chapter 4 ("Working with Journalists and Bloggers")
          • Chapter 5 ("Writing the News Release")
      • Media Target List:
        •  Create a media target list for your client. Who are the seven "A-list" media outlets that you would ideally target and distribute your press releases to? Use CisionPoint to assemble this media target list and then export the info into a document that you will include in your final campaign portfolio.

      Content Strategy and Social Media Campaigns

      Content Strategy and Social Media Campaigns

      As a digital content manager and web content strategist at the company behind a leading virtual world, I work daily to help curate and create multiple media elements that are then used across a website, email campaigns, social networks and in external paid and non-paid campaigns.

      Unlike a traditional "editor" role, I'm thinking about more than just the written word.  All text content must be readable and understandable, but also findable, actionable and shareable. Is there a clear call-to-action in our content? What is our objective for each campaign?

      Further, I also have to consider how content might be re-distributed and/or re-purposed in other channels of delivery.  For example, will it be easily indexed on search engines? Do we make it easy for people to share it via social networks, such as Facebook? Would they even want to? Why or why not?

      There's lots to consider, to be sure.
      An example of a "landing page" targeted at the steampunk community. 
      For example, a key mission is to make the website easier to navigate while helping the company to meet critical "key performance indicators" (KPIs), such as acquisition (attracting new users) and retention (keeping existing users happy and engaged). We also want to build and amplify brand loyalty.

      For acquisition, a key consideration is how friendly our content is for search engines. What can we do to make sure that our site comes up for key searches on Google and other search engines? This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy becomes critical. This means that you might actually develop targeted promo campaigns centrally themed to specific popular keyword searches and/or interests. For example, we recently did a whole campaign around the emerging machinima artform. There have also been landing pages and campaigns developed for education, romance, pets, goth and more, The "best practices" and tactics for SEO will be discussed in greater detail in the coming weeks.

      A banner from a "landing page" for a machinima-themed campaign.
      For retention, the site should have functionality that encourages people to stick around. The Destination Guide project, which is a directory of cool content inside the virtual world, perfectly fits that objective.

      There's also deep Facebook integration there, which allows for easy sharing of cool spots that people may want to comment on and/or show off to friends. Why is this important? It helps to build engagement and brand loyalty among existing users -- but also lets them help spread the word of how cool SL is. This is a critical and cost-effective way to help expand awareness of SL to people that might not even be aware of it!

        An example of a promo video on the official YouTube channel for SL.

      The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) has a fantastic blog post with an essential checklist (.pdf file) that is extremely helpful in determine what you will say and how you will say it in your content and campaign creations.

      As you think about how you'd develop an online presence for your semester "client," you'll want to review this checklist to make sure you are hitting these critical points for content that is:
      • Findable
      • Readable
      • Understandable
      • Actionable
      • Shareable
      An example of a promo shot viewable on the SL blog.

      CisionPoint Training

      CisonPoint is one of the most popular public relations tool in use today. According to Cision's Web site, 49 of the 50 top PR agencies use this tool.

      CisionPoint is a subscription-based utility that contains a current database of most media outlets. Each outlet is categorized and indexed by location, media type, genre and other variables. In addition, each outlet contains contact information for the current staff. Some listings even contain an editorial calendar for topics slated to be covered in the future on that outlet.

      Here is the Web site to log-in:


      NOTE: We have a limited access academic account that we will be using in class. If you have not been given your unique username/password by email, then I will provide it to you in person during class.

      To train on CisionPoint in class, we will be reviewing some help and video tutorial resources provided by Cision.

      Here are the links that you might find useful in learning CisionPoint:

      This is a non-graded practice exercise that will help you learn CisionPoint to build targeted media lists. Try to use CisionPoint to find targeted media lists for the following scenarios:
      1. You are working on a PR campaign for Windows 10 from Microsoft. Use CisionPoint to prepare a target media list for possible coverage of the product launch. Specifically, create these lists:
        1. U.S.-based Internet secuirty-themed magazines
        2. Computer/video game blogs
        3. Washington state television stations ALL
      2. You are launching a new beauty product in the New York City market only.
        1. Create a list of potential beauty and fashion media outlets in the New York City area.
      3. The Spanish-speaking audience is one of the largest target audiences in the U.S. You are representing a client that wants to target the Spanish-speaking sports fan.
        1. Compile a list of all daily newspaper and Internet sites that cover sports and cater to the Spanish-speaking audience.

        CisionPoint Accreditation Opportunity

        CisionPoint student accreditation proves to employers that you have a comprehensive knowledge of CisionPoint and are ready to use it in the workplace.

        Upon successful completion of the course requirements, you may apply for accreditation and receive a certificate. CisionPoint accreditation looks great on a résumé!

        To get started, you must first register at the link below:
        Next, registered students can begin the accreditation program at the following website - http://cisiontraining.com/university-program/

        WEEKS 7 & 8 OVERVIEW: Press Releases & One-on-One Consultations


        For the next couple of weeks, we will:
        • Have one-on-one consultations about our semester project
        • Continue to revise our Strategic Plan
        • Complete our press releases, backgrounder and fact sheet
        • Learn about both the traditional and social press release formats
        • Practice press release writing 
        • Practice pitching to the media
        • Read Chapter 5 of the textbook ("Writing the News Release") Backgrounder and Fact Sheet Press Releases
        Create two original Press Releases for your client.
        • It is recommended that you use either Google Documents or Microsoft Word templates for your press releases.
        • When your press releases are ready, please print them out and be prepared to discuss/review in class.
        • Press Releases - Please bring printed copies to class on March 3