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COMSTRAT 310 Syllabus - Spring 2017

COMSTRAT 310 - DIGITAL CONTENT PROMOTION (3 CREDITS) Instructor:  Brett Atwood                                Office:  GWH 234        ...

WEEKS 1 & 2: Intro to Course & Overview of Semester Project

SUMMARY:

During the first two weeks, we will:
  • Be introduced to the semester-long project and general course structure
  • Explore the basics of web-based public relations and advertising campaigns
  • Review the fundamentals of a SWOT analysis and a competitive analysis. Then prepare these for your product in preparation for your looming campaign
  • Review examples of user persona research and then apply these techniques to our campaign
HOMEWORK:
  • As we begin our semester campaign case study project, please identify the focus and positioning of your product and where it fits into the competitive landscape. Do not worry yet about the brand name or logo. You will conduct a competitive analysis and a SWOT analysis on the product line that they are aiming to develop a campaign for. This will be used to help shape and inform future branding and messaging elements, including social media outreach strategies. Soon you will also create at least three user persona research profiles for the audience that they anticipate targeting.

Semester Project Overview

For the duration of the semester, we will be creating fictional brands that the class will use to generate original social media, PR and advertising campaign elements. Rather than use “real” brands or services for each campaign, you will orchestrate your campaign around a single fictional brand that you create.

The types of fictional products or services will vary, but some examples of categories include:

  • Non-alcoholic beverage (e.g. soda pop, sports drink, coffee, etc.)
  • Energy Pill
  • Airline
  • Internet-based music company
  • Shampoo or Hair Grooming Product
  • Stylish clothing line
Each student may identify other brand categories to be considered, but the above is only meant as a starter list for consideration. For each of the above soon-to-be-created brands, each student will research varying brand names and logo treatments as they consider the competitive positioning of the brand in the presumed marketplace.

When naming your brand, it is important that students NOT use any existing or "real" brands for these projects. However, you will use a trademark search engine to investigate whether your suggested brand names already exist. You may also use Adobe Photoshop or, alternatively, a free online tool to generate an original logo for your "fictional" brand.

Your campaign prep work also includes user persona research and a SWOT analysis to help determine brands strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Remember: You are inventing the brand and the attributes that define it! This is the perfect chance to examine the competitive landscape of your product to identify "opportunities" or under-served niches that you can aim to reach with your campaign. It's a clean slate!!!

Your initial research helps to define your brand, messaging, audience and its position in the marketplace. This is all essential to the second phase of your campaign: the actual social media marketing, advertising and public relations outreach that will help bring awareness of your campaign to the masses.

Over the duration of the semester, students may create some or all of these elements:
  • A social media marketing plan
  • An SEO-optimized campaign website
  • A Facebook fan page
  • A Twitter feed
  • Social media press releases
  • A targeted e-mail campaign
  • and more!
Examples of Previous Semester Campaign Sites:
Examples of Previous Semester Social Media Marketing Plans:


    Competitive Analysis & SWOT Analysis

    Many students are already familiar with the concept of a Competitive Analysis and SWOT analysis. As you may already know, you can use both of these to help identify where your product fits within the overall marketplace. By developing both of these documents, you will help focus the approach used in planning your advertising and/or PR campaigns.
    COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS
    A competitive analysis involves a simple exploration of your competitors in the product category or niche that you are aiming to develop a product and campaign for.
    Check out this template that can help you get started:
    The above template might not import correctly into Google Documents, so you might want to re-create a version of it in Google Documents and/or develop your own template.
    Two web-based tools that can help you better understand the website demographics of your competitors are:
    SWOT ANALYSIS


    In addition to understanding your competition, you should do an analysis of  the key attributes and value propositions of your potential brand. A SWOT analysis.  can help you get a clearer understanding of your product by documenting the:
    • Strengths
    • Weaknesses
    • Opportunities
    • Threats
    To do a proper SWOT analysis, you will need to really consider what the key  value propositions are in relation to the overall existing marketplace. This is  why both the SWOT analysis and competitive analysis are important as a starting  point to your campaign. You need to KNOW your brand and the larger product  category before subsequent work can begin.
    Here is a worksheet that you can use to help guide your analysis:
    Looking for examples? Marketingteacher.com has great examples of several brands, including:

    COMSTRAT 310 Syllabus - Spring 2017

    COMSTRAT 310 - DIGITAL CONTENT PROMOTION (3 CREDITS)

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

    COURSE OVERVIEW:

    This course is designed to help students apply writing, critical thinking and persuasion skills to the practice and promotion of PR and advertising in both digital and social media outlets. Students will explore various digital promotion technologies, as well as use of emerging social media to study their ethical application in both advertising and PR.

    Successful completion of the course will prepare students for the next level of specialization courses in the College, as well as for an internship.

    COURSE LEARNING GOALS:
    • Develop and manage online content promotions and branded digital campaigns.
    • Ability to develop and execute social media engagement and user-oriented content strategies.
    • Evaluate campaign success in execution using key performance indicators and online tools for web development, email, metrics, and multimedia management.

    COURSE CURRICULUM MAPPING (Click to enlarge):


    COURSE SPECIFICS:

    The course will be taught to address digital content and social media campaigns from both a PR and advertising perspective. In general, the work created and submitted is meant to prepare students for working in the “real world.”  

    Assignments will include content creation and promotion of campaign elements using both emerging and established new media technologies, including social media, podcasts, viral videos, social media news releases and website analytics. 

    Each student will develop a campaign for a fictional brand, product or organization for the duration of the semester. Students will be expected to conceptualize and create specified elements of a promotional campaign, which will include social media press releases and web- and social media-distributed multimedia content. 

    Students will learn to optimize their campaigns and content for distribution and discovery on search engines, social networks, mobile devices and other non-traditional outlets. Best practices will be explored for press release writing, tagging, metadata creation, social network seeding, community engagement and more.

    Each student will be responsible for gathering and generating accurate analytics and measurement reports for their client and campaign. Students will learn the basic data interpretation techniques of website and social media analytics services (such as Google Analytics and Facebook Insights) that track visitor behavior, pageviews, keyword and third party site referrals.

    Although subject to change, the following tools, services and techniques may be used:
    • Search Engine Optimization and Marketing (SEO/SEM)
    • Social Media Marketing (SMM)
    • Social media networks  (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.)
    • Google Documents/Drive (an online collaborative word processor and cloud-based storage service)
    • Google AdSense (targeted website and keyword search advertising service)
    • Google Analytics (targeted website and keyword measurement and analytics service)
    • Facebook Ads (targeted social media advertising service)
    • Facebook Insights (social media measurement and analytics service)
    • YouTube Insights (viral video measurement and analytics service)
    • Google Forms and/or Polldaddy (online survey tools)
    • Dropbox (media and file sharing utility)
    • Gliffy.com (wireframing tool)

    COURSE TOPICS & SCHEDULE (Subject to Change):
    • Week 1: Intro to Course & Overview of Semester Project
    • Week 2: Content Strategy Basics: Using a SWOT Analysis, Competitive Analysis & User Persona Research to Craft our Online Campaigns
    • Week 3: Focusing our online identity: Logo creations and brand name explorations (including trademark research)
    • Week 4: Gathering online feedback: Research and feedback on our brand name and logo creations (Learning Polldaddy/Google Forms)
    • Week 5: Wireframing & Design Explorations (Gliffy.com)
    • Week 6: Website Creation Training and Workshops (Wix.com)
    • Week 7: Workshops/Legal considerations for web publishing incl. exploration of stock photo and multimedia considerations
    • Week 8: SEO Basics: Search Engine Optimization Best Practices & Case Studies/SMM Basics: Social Media Marketing Best Practices & Case Studies
    • Week 9: Social Media Marketing Plans & Case Studies 
    • Week 10: Spring Break
    • Week 11: Building a Facebook fan page & use of social media widgets/Building a Twitter feed & best practices in microblogging
    • Week 12: Design & Campaign Considerations for Mobile & Tablet Platforms/Workshops
    • Week 13: Learning Google Adwords & Facebook Ads
    • Week 14: Introduction to Google Analytics & Analyzing Website Traffic Reports/YouTube Insight & Video Campaigns
    • Week 15: Final Projects & Social Media Marketing Plans

    COURSE GRADING:

    Evaluation of your work will be based on the quality and timeliness of the social media, written and/or multimedia content created for the class. This does include technical quality, but also the application of key concepts and critical thinking to the productions. 

    For this course, all key components of your grade will be determined at the end of the course. Each key element is worth 25% of your total grade. Key elements include:
    • Final delivery of a campaign website and related social media elements (25%)
    • A Social Media Marketing Plan for your campaign (25%)
    • Participation & Attendance (25%)
    • A final exam (25%)
    It is important to note that the majority of these elements will not be graded until the END of the semester. If students have any questions or want feedback sooner re: how they are doing, they should contact the instructor to arrange a one-on-one meeting to review their work.

    REQUIRED TECHNOLOGY:

    This course has a heavy dependence on the 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. 

    MURROW COLLEGE LAB HOURS: 

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

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

    SELECT UNIVERSITY POLICIES

    Copyright (2017) 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

    Academic integrity is the cornerstone of higher education. As such, all members of the university community share responsibility for maintaining and promoting the principles of integrity in all activities, including academic integrity and honest scholarship. Academic integrity will be strongly enforced in this course. Students who violate WSU’s Academic Integrity Policy (identified in Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 504-26-010(3) and -404) will (i) receive 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) will not have the option to withdraw from the course pending an appeal, and (iii) will be reported to the Office of Student Conduct. 

    Cheating includes, but is not limited to, plagiarism and unauthorized collaboration as defined in the Standards of Conduct for Students, WAC 504-26-010(3). You need to read and understand all of the definitions of cheating: http://app.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=504-26-010. If you have any questions about what is and is not allowed in this course, you should ask course instructors before proceeding. 

    If you wish to appeal a faculty member's decision relating to academic integrity, please use the form available at conduct.wsu.edu

    Reasonable Accommodation Syllabus Statement

    Reasonable accommodations are available in classes for students with a documented disability. If you have a disability and need accommodations to fully participate in this class, please either email or call the Access Center (access.center@wsu.edu; 509-335-3417) to schedule an appointment with an Access Advisor.  New students to the Access Center are asked to visit the Access Center website to complete an application: http://www.accesscenter.wsu.edu.

    All accommodations MUST be approved through the Access Center.  Once accommodations are approved, students are expected to meet with course instructors within two weeks to discuss implementation.

    Pullman, Everett or WSU Online: 509-335-3417  http://accesscenter.wsu.edu, Access.Center@wsu.edu

    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.

    SELECT COLLEGE & COURSE POLICIES

    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 

    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.

    Course Participation & Attendance Policies:

    In order to ensure participation from all students, credit is given to those with strong attendance and promptness. Excessive absences will result in a lower grade for the overall course. Specifically, more than TWO will adversely affect your final grade due to reduced credit for attendance and participation.

    Class attendance is vital, as material will be introduced that is not covered in the text. Poor attendance will be reflected in your grade because of missed assignments or problems with completion. Assignments missed due to absence generally can't be made up. Do not ask unless there are exceptional circumstances for an excused absence. Consideration might be given if there is documented hospitalization, family death, university-sponsored travel (documented in advance) or extended individual sickness.

    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?"



    CrowdCircles is on Facebook

    If you are on Facebook, then I recommend you "Like" our official class feed. On Facebook, I'll be posting interesting and timely news stories, as well as job and internship opportunities -- some of which are exclusive to this class.

    Case Study: Content Strategy and Second Life

    Content Strategy and Social Media Campaigns

    As a digital content manager and web content strategist at the company behind the virtual world Second Life, I work daily to help curate and create multiple media elements that are then used across the Secondlife.com 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. 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 Second Life, 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 Second Life is. This is a critical and cost-effective way to help expand awareness of Second Life to people that might not even be aware of it!



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

    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 Secondlife.com blog.