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The Communication Cycle

A) Practical – Portfolio
Students will complete an evaluation exercise. Having under taken this task students will also provide a 500 word reflective essay outlining any difficulties encountered using a traditional evaluation method. Key findings should also be included eg what is your chosen company trying to communicate and why? How might the reporting affect the organisation?s reputation?

Students must choose a company and create a portfolio of that organisation?s marketing communication collateral (minimum of 10), excluding advertisments. Find 10 cuttings from a variety of media including screenshot of website/facebook ? with testimonials, twitter etc, PR articles, Consumer articles etc

Do not rush with choosing the company, pay attention to what is new, interesting and making headlines. Some sectors and within them certain companies always get more coverage than others (Starbucks, Apple, BA, Tiffany?s, Barclays, BP and so on). Companies that have been used previously include Harrods, The Body Shop, Adidas, Monster, Burberry, Nike, Steinway and sons. Alternatively, some companies offer so much scope in media terms that students have decided to follow a company and one issue it is facing eg BP and the Gulf of Mexico crisis, Primark and ethical trading etc

A selection of media needs to be evidenced eg press cuttings ie editorial / websites / broadcast clips / social networks and presented in a bound portfolio either an album or a folder. Students also need to select their portfolio on the basis of different target audiences eg key influencers through a twitter feed or investors through a financial news article.

For each piece in the portfolio students need to compile a full media analysis. It is not enough to simply count the number of times a company, product or issue is mentioned in the mass media, a more meaningful method of analysis is to look for key messages, such as product attributes (low price, reliability, environmentally safe, physically safe, easy to use, etc) and company attributes (environmental responsibility, good labour relations, good community citizen and so on). Messages can be contained in the news story or in quotes provided by customers, stock analysts or other observers/ stakeholders

This media analysis, for each article, should be presented in bullet points (as it will not contribute to your word count) and should include:
1. Placement: Where in the publication or broadcast it was found: on the front page of the paper or inside; as the lead story on the evening news or an item stuck between sports and weather; 6:00pm or 11:00pm news; etc. Also include prominence eg with a photo for extra impact
2. Audience reach: circulation of the newspaper or size of the television or radio audience
3. Length: print stories measured din column-inches; broadcast stories are measured in minutes/seconds
4. Context: news story, feature, investigative piece, editorial, column or a letter to the editor
5. Content: inclusion of key messages and mention of competitors. (Key messages may not be repeated verbatim: they can be paraphrased or implied)
6. Tone: positive, negative, or neutral
7. Stakeholders: who?s viewpoint is included in the article


Theory: students will showcase their understanding of key PR concepts including planning, communication models and evaluation within a 2000 word report. Credible comment should be provided on how the PR industry is addressing the issue of evaluation.

For the report:
This will follow a formal report layout and should include the following headings:
Executive summary: usually one or two paragraphs which summarises the reports aims, methodology (ie the practical exercise), results and conclusion. (This does not form part of your word count)

Background: this introduces your reader to the company, its sector and where appropriate a particular subject for analysis (two paragraphs maximum). Also included should be a brief overall of any key issues that are affecting the sector e.g. financial crisis in banking, tourism and the environment etc.

Methodology and Findings: This should make direct reference to academic text as you discuss the concept behind the task ie why analysis is done as well as its role within the communication cycle. Using your portfolio as a reference point, you need to evidence that different stakeholders might need different messages, supporting your findings with reference to PR Publics theory. Reference to corporate reputation is also of relevance here as is evidence that you have researched current PR evaluation practice.

Conclusion: with regards to messaging and reputation and also evaluation. This is also an opportunity to offer an opinion on the subject.

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