Social Media Strategy with Professor Chen

Class Notes: SpTp (Special Topic): Social Media Strategy for Public Relations with Professor Chen

By: Dennise-Marie Leon


This is the first time that Social Media Strategy for Public Relations has been taught at USF, and it’s also the first year Professor Chen teaches it! As registration nears, you can sign up for the opportunity to take this class in the spring. Social media is one of the most prevalent forms of communication of this generation, so if you’re using it, it’s important that you learn how to do so appropriately. If you are going into the field of public relations and strategic communication, chances are you will have to deal with some aspect of social media every day.


You might find yourself asking some of the same questions I did upon finding out about this class. Here is the course in a nutshell in the words of Professor Chen:


Q: What are the main components?

This class has two main components, the first one is to understand the underlining mechanisms and driving force behind the new media platforms and the social psychology of human behavior online. The second component is the practical side to build analytical skills and develop content strategies.


Q: What type of work will I have to do?

Rather than having exams, the learning outcomes will be assessed via various projects. Students will be working on content strategy, social media research and strategy development. Students will have the opportunity to get hands-on experience in what it is like to develop a social media strategy, produce a social media analytics report, create comprehensive campaigns and establish professional online presence. It’s such an interactive class that we have our own hashtag on Twitter (#COMS490fall17 for Fall 2017), where students must tweet as a way of engagement.


Q: What topics will I have to cover? And how will we cover them?

If you are interested in the class, just wait until you hear about the topics covered! This class will cover:

  • Social media storytelling
  • Strategy development
  • Social media research and measurement
  • Social media monitoring and analytics using Hootsuite and Meltwater
  • Personal branding
  • Crisis communication
  • Social media law and ethics
  • User-generated content and viral marketing
  • Social media content governance and team management

These topics will be covered using:

  • Discussions
  • Case studies and videos
  • Pop-up creative brainstorm sessions
  • Guest speakers
  • Analytics workshops
  • Real world practices

The major assignment in this class is the final project which showcases everything that the students have learned in a full public relations/strategic communication social media campaign. This class is a very co-oriented class, which means that it isn’t just the professor lecturing at the front of the class every class. Professor Chen hopes the students will also learn from one another through discussions and workshops as much as learning from her.


Q: What is the main outcome of this class?

I want students to leave this class being prepared and feeling like they accomplished something. I want them to demonstrate they can use social media in a professional way, as well as writing reports that can be of immediate use for job application straight out of college.


Whether you want to go into the field of public relations or not, this class will prepare you for any career that deals with social media.


There is a pre-requisite/co-requisite for this class, and that is COMS 320 Public Relations Principles and Practices. However, Professor Chen may waive the pre-requisite on a case-by-case basis.


SpTp: COMS 490: Social Media Strategy for Public Relations counts as an upper-division Communication Studies major course and can be counted towards a Public Relations Minor.



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