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.



Class Notes: "Rhetorical History of the U.S." with Professor Sery

Last week we profiled our new class “Environmental Communication” with Professor DeLaure. This week, we are profiling an as-good-as-new class! Why is it as-good-as-new? Because although this class has been taught in the past, it has been so long that it is like new! What class is as-good-as-new? COMS 373: Rhetorical History of the U.S. with Professor Sery! If you are still a little bleary-eyed from watching the election returns and speeches last night, this just might be the course for you! I asked Professor Sery to give us the details…

“This course is a survey of some of the great discourses and rhetorical moments of U.S. history. Beginning with the Colonial period and ending with the new social movements of the 20th century, we will work our way through U.S. history examining the moments that have defined and redefined American identity. Puritan sermons, the American Revolution, the debates around the Constitution, the westward expansion, the abolitionist movement and their states’ rights counterparts, the Civil War and national reconstruction, the ratification and enduring influence of the Civil War Amendments, the emergence of the only distinctly American philosophy: Pragmatism, the Progressive movement, unionization and worker’s rights, two world wars, and an array of civil rights movements (new and old) – these moments elicited some of the most powerful discourses and heroic characters that continue to shape our shared political, economic, social, cultural, and moral lives. Our task is to unpack these rhetorical moments and examine the ways in which the rhetors shape their arguments in order to motivate judgment or action. Moreover, we will also examine the ways in which these discourses are continuously evoked and serve as complex rhetorical memories that continue to shape American identity.

We will approach American national identity and U.S. history as contingent and evolving rhetorical constructions.  In other words, we will examine how American identity and U.S. history have been shaped through persuasive, public discourse.  This may seem an odd focus for a course—part historical and part rhetorical; yet we will come to realize, throughout the course of this semester, that understanding American society is impossible to do without turning our ear to the echoes of historical American public address. Throughout the course, we will consider recurring arguments that continue to reverberate throughout U.S. history. Who is a person? Who is an “American”? What is the role of faith? What are the limits of individualism? Who judges the law? How do we negotiate between local and national authority? What can we do about war and diplomacy? How can we form a “more fair and perfect union”? With a panoramic view and a humbled sense of self-awareness, we will trace these recurring rhetorical themes throughout U.S. history. Some of these themes include:

  • Tracing several influential and enduring rhetorical and ideological lineages in the history of American political, social, and cultural discourse, including puritan millennialism, civic humanist republicanism, early federalism, manifest destinarianism, classical liberalism, social Darwinism, pragmatism, etc.
  • Understanding the rhetorical situations contextualizing important moments throughout US history including colonial Puritanism, the American Revolution, ratifying the Constitution, western expansion, the abolition movement, the Civil War and reconstruction, the progressive movement, women’s suffrage, WWI, early socialism and anarchism, the Great Depression, WWII, and the various civil rights movements in the latter half of the 20th century.
  • Examining the role of rhetorical theory and practice in the constitution, maintenance, expression, criticism, transformation, suppression, and decimation of various American cultural and ideological forms over time.
  • Investigating the “American Exceptionalism” dispute and some of its social/political implications.
  • Investigating several traditional and contemporary “paradoxes” (dilemmas, dialectics, bipolarities, etc.) of complex American culture and speculate upon their origins and social functions.
  • Comparing the rhetorical/cultural structure and relative efficacy of several types of historical and mass-mediated rhetorical and ideological interventions into traditional and contemporary American society and culture.

In the tradition of a liberal arts education, this course has both a practical element and a broader focus.  You will develop skills for the critical reading, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation of public discourse.  You will also gain a broader knowledge and appreciation of U.S. history and the very important role of rhetoric within it.”

Wow! All of this in one semester! Yes!

COMS 373: Rhetorical History of the U.S. counts as an upper-division Communication Studies major course and has a pre-req of COMS 202.


Class Notes: "Environmental Communication" with Professor DeLaure

Registration for Spring 2013 is almost upon us! You have hopefully been busy perusing our Communication Studies class schedule. Try to tear yourself away for a few moments to read about one of our new courses: COMS 490: Environmental Communication. I asked Professor DeLaure to share some information about what you can expect from the course:

“Next spring, I’m teaching a brand new course, “Environmental Communication.”  This is a upper division course that counts towards the COMS major, and also toward the Environmental Studies major.  (Pre-reqs are COMS 202, or ENVA major.)

This class examines how communication shapes our understandings of and interactions with the environment.  Over the course of the semester, we’ll address the following questions: How do we define “environment” and distinguish between “nature” and “culture”?  What are common rhetorical appeals deployed in discourse about the environment?  How do images and other visual modes of communication shape perceptions of the environment?  How do scientists, environmentalists, elected officials, and ordinary citizens deliberate over environmental issues, and how do the media frame these debates?  What are some of the challenges posed by miscommunication about environmental issues?  And how can you communicate effectively about the environment as a student, citizen, and activist?  Through our collaborative exploration of these and other questions, you will expand your awareness of environmental issues, become a savvier critic of environmental messages, improve your advocacy skills and, hopefully, deepen your sense of engagement as a global environmental citizen.

If you choose to enroll in Environmental Communication, you will read, discuss, monitor media coverage of environmental issues, write a book review, and also a critical analysis essay.  You will also have the opportunity to create a portfolio of applied communication materials for a real-world context.  For a non-profit organization, you might draft a fundraising letter, a grant application, and design some webpage copy.  Or, for an educational institution, you might develop a lesson plan and accompanying materials for teaching a target audience about a specific environmental topic.  Or, for a public campaign, you might create a range of materials (mailers, press releases, op-ed pieces, a speech, a social-media plan) to promote participation, encourage voting, or elicit a change of behavior.  Students will find or be paired with a Bay Area organization doing environmental work; at the end of the term, students will deliver their materials to that organization for possible use, and will also present their work to the class.”

Remember, COMS 490: Environmental Communication is an upper-division Communication Studies major course and also counts towards the Environmental Studies major. Thanks Professor DeLaure!

Class Notes: "GreenSpeech" with Professor DeLaure

Some of you may have noticed some interesting classes listed in our class schedule for this upcoming fall semester. Wait, of course all of our courses are interesting. Start over: some new courses listed in our fall schedule. One of them is Professor DeLaure’s “GreenSpeech: Communication and the Environment,” the subject of today’s “Class Notes.”

This course is a First Year Seminar, meaning it is a course only open to new first year students (sorry sophomores, juniors, and seniors!) and it fulfills the university Public Speaking requirement. I wanted to share a description of the course to give everyone an idea of what Professor DeLaure and her students will be working on. It also gives you a bit more information into Professor DeLaure’s research and teaching interests.

"GreenSpeech" focuses on communication and the environment

According to Professor DeLaure, “GreenSpeech examines how communication shapes our understandings of, and interactions with, the environment.  Over the course of the semester, we’ll address the following questions: How do we define ‘environment’ and distinguish between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’?  What are the myriad ways we humans narrate our relationships to the natural world?  How do modern lifestyles and human ‘progress’ impact the planet?  What are the most pressing ecological problems facing us today?  How do scientists, environmentalists, elected officials, and ordinary citizens deliberate over environmental issues, and how to the media frame these debates?  And how can you develop your voice to become a powerful advocate for the environment?

Muir Woods

Together we will explore our local San Francisco environment through readings and field trips; we’ll also learn about contemporary environmental problems and various forms of activism seeking to address those problems.  Students will sharpen their speaking skills, hone their critical thinking abilities, and educate one another through a series of speech assignments rooted in environmental topics. The class meets MWF from 2:15-3:20 pm AND F 3:25-5:00 pm.  That’s because on most Friday afternoons, we’ll be venturing out into the city (on foot or by bicycle) to explore; on some Fridays, we’ll watch a documentary film together.”

No, that's not Lance Armstrong... it's Professor DeLaure!

Did any of you current students take a First Year Seminar in the Communication Studies department? WE have had several over the years. Tell us about it if you did!


Class Notes: "Ethnography of Communication" with Professor Ho

In honor of advising week (actually, advising weeks), we bring you another “Class Notes.”  First, a few questions.  Do you reminisce fondly about your time in Communication and Culture?  Does the word “ethnography” bring back happy memories?  Do you often wish that you could take the class again just so you could do another ethnography?  Well, if so, you are in luck!  Why, because there is an entire class offered in the fall that focuses on ethnography!  What is it called?  Ethnography of Communication!  (No one said the title was creative!).

Professor Ho, re-reading "Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes" and playing with the audio recorded in preparation for teaching Ethnography of Communication. Seriously... I asked her to pose for a picture, and she couldn't put the book down!

Here are the details from Professor Ho, who will be teaching the class in this fall: “This is service-learning course where students work in a non-profit organization while conducting fieldwork and learning about how an organization functions and how they communicate with staff and clients.  Students provide real work for the organization and serve those in the community while they practice the academic skills and theories taught in class.  The best students develop internships and jobs from their service-learning experiences!  Students in Fall 2010 worked at two locations: Epiphany Center and St. Anthony Foundation’s Technology Lab helping guests with computer training skills.  Ali Wasserman and Kait Kenerly taught one of their introductory computer classes.

(see blog: http://www.stanthonysf.org/blog/2010/11/10/tenderloin-spotlight-kaith-kenerly/).  Students also conducted audio-recorded interviews with other Tenderloin non-profits as part of a web-based audio project called Tendervoice.  These participant-observation moments and recordings were then used in their ethnographic papers/projects.  Also – Ali and Sarah Hirsch and I will be presenting what we’ve done in the class at the 14th Annual Continuums of Service Conference April 27-29, 2011 in San Diego, California.”  (Professor Ho gave us a sneak peak into a future “Student Shout-Out”).

Ethnography of Communication is an upper-division Communication Studies major course and also gives you University Service Learning requirement (equals win-win!).  Comment back if you have taken Ethnography of Communication!

Are there any classes listed for summer or fall that you want to hear more about?  Contact me at edoohan@usfca.edu and I’ll feature them!


Class Notes: "Critical and Rhetorical Methods" with Professor DeLaure

As Led Zeppelin said (or rather, sang) “It’s been a long time.”  I think they were singing about lost love and rock and roll (who am I kidding, I totally needed my husband’s help with this hook), but it is fitting for today’s post.  Yes, “it’s been a long time” since our last “Class Notes” post, but now it’s here (was it worth the wait?).

Remember “Class Notes” where we get to hear from the professor what the class is about?  “Class Notes” which we decided were much more helpful than the course catalog?  “Class Notes” where alums can reminisce about times spent in their Communication Studies courses?  Well, it’s back, just in time to help you plan your Fall 2011 schedule!

Those of you who have checked out the course schedule already know that Professor DeLaure is teaching COMS 252: Critical and Rhetorical Methods.  This course, offered for the first time in Fall 2011, is a revised version of Rhetorical Criticism (COMS 332), which will no longer be offered.  **So, if you have already taken Rhetorical Criticism, you should NOT take COMS 252!  And if you wanted to take Rhetorical Criticism, you should take Critical and Rhetorical Methods! ** We are shifting the course from an upper division course to a mid-level Methods course (one of three Methods options from which Communication Studies majors and minors may choose). Prerequisite: COMS 202, Rhetoric and the Public Sphere.

Here’s the course in a nutshell from Professor DeLaure herself: “In Critical and Rhetorical Methods, students will learn the skills of close reading and rhetorical analysis.  Techniques of close reading apply to texts of all kinds—from deliberative speeches to advertisements, from protest marches to public monuments. Mastering close reading enables us to understand how a text creates meaning, attending not only to what is said, but how it is said, and with what implications.  Students read theory, criticism essays, and primary texts; they will write several papers on topics they choose.

Critical and Rhetorical Methods builds on the foundation laid in Rhetoric and the Public Sphere by exploring a number of rhetorical perspectives from which to analyze texts.  We will put those perspectives into practice by scrutinizing speeches, images, public spaces and other kinds of texts.  In each case, we will attempt to understand the functions of language (broadly construed) in our society: the ways it persuades, forges individual and collective identity, and structures our experience of the world.  Close reading is an indispensable skill not only for students of rhetoric, but for all citizens, as it equips us to understand more deeply the myriad texts that vie for our attention.  Through engaging in critical analysis, we will become better attuned to the forces of symbolic action working around and within us, thus enabling us to become savvy consumers and more informed, ethical creators of rhetoric.”

Professor DeLaure, excited to teach Critical Rhetorical Methods in the fall!

If you have taken Rhetorical Criticism (the former identity of this new class), comment back!  Are there classes on the schedule for Fall 2011 that you want to learn more about?  Contact me at edoohan@usfca.edu and I will feature them in an upcoming “Class Notes” post.


Class Notes: "Asian American Culture and Communication" with Professor Ho

I am happy to introduce a new category for the blog: “Class Notes.”  Class Notes will be a way to highlight courses in our department by offering candid descriptions of the courses (better than the course catalogue!) and by providing examples of the work that students do in our courses.  One of the things that I am proud about in our department is the variety of courses we offer our students.  I think Class Notes will be informative for our current and future students, so you can learn more about courses before you take them, and will also be a way for alums to reminisce about the courses they took while here (respond back with comments if you took a course featured in Class Notes!), and another way for friends of the department to learn about what we do in our courses here at USF.  So, without further ado, our first “Class Notes.”

First up is Professor Ho’s COMS 315: Asian American Culture and Communication, a new upper-division course in our department.  Let’s hear about this course from Professor Ho:

Professor Ho, happy and smiling because of her course "Asian American Culture and Communication"

“Not just for Asian Americans!  This class examines communication ranging from Hawaiian Pidgin to Margaret Cho’s forms of Mock Asian to Asian Americans adopting ‘Black’ ways of speaking.  Students read about the different Asian American ethnic groups and the role of communication in creating Asian American identities.  Situates you well for saying that you have skills for ‘working in a diverse environment.’  In Fall 2010, students conducted a class-wide focus group interview project learning steps in focus group interview development, recruitment, moderation, and analysis.  Students chose this project as a class in part to learn skills in how to moderate and conduct focus group research (people get jobs doing this!).  Each student studied their own research questions like ‘what stereotypes exist about Asians and Asian Americans’ and ‘how do parents influence language choices/code-switching in 2nd generation Asian Americans.'”

See how much more helpful this description is than the catalogue?  Let’s compare.  Here is the catalogue description: “This course explores the communication patterns of Asian Pacific Americans.  The course introduces different theories and methods for studying these cultural practices and how they construct shared and contested individual and collective identities.”   Hmm…

So, to recap.  “Asian American Culture and Communication” is not just for Asian Americans and the catalogue description does not do it justice.  This course fulfills upper-division Communication Studies major credit, the University core Cultural Diversity requirement, and the Asian American Studies minor elective requirement.  Did you take this course with Professor Ho this past fall semester?  If so, comment back and share more information! 

Do you have a course that you would like more information about?  Let me know at edoohan@usfca.edu and I will feature it in an upcoming Class Notes post.