Excerpt from course description

PR-Management and Strategic Communication


PR is a management function and practice based on strategic communication. A PR-practitioner may support an organization by systematically and methodically identifying and developing mutual beneficial relations between the organization and the organization's environment.

Some people who work in, or wish to work in the fields or communication and PR, have educational background outside the communication sector and might therefore work intuitively with communication. Even if evidence-based knowledge is important, it fails to meet demands in complicated environments. This program bridges the gap between evidence-based and research-based insight. Students will develop such insight through lectures, group assignments and by studying academic literature on strategic communication, PR, relations and persuasion.

Anyone seeking a middle management or executive position in PR, need insight in strategic thinking and be able to plan and implement strategic processes. The program therefore aims to give students solid theoretical knowledge in relevant fields, such as communication strategies, crisis management, issues- and environment scanning and analysis, and evaluation of PR.

Candidates are recruited from different environments, such as journalism, media organizations, sales and marketing. After having completed the program, they will be well suited for middle management or management positions in communications in the private, public or civil sectors.

Course content

  • Key terms in PR and strategik communication
  • Strategic processes and strategic analysis
  • History and development of PR
  • PR profession and practice, Norwegian and international
  • Environmental scanning
  • PR process, and PR-campaigns
  • PR strategy
  • PR tactics
  • Communication strategy
  • Issues management
  • Crisis communication
  • Communication theory
  • Attitude forming and persuasion
  • Media relations
  • Ethics and PR
  • Reputation
  • The media’s ways of working and function
  • Planning and evaluation of PR
  • Situational PR

Outline of the seminars:

1st Seminar: Strategic communication

The seminar will give participants knowledge of strategic analysis, processes and strategic communication in PR.

Brief description
In addition to possessing the technical skills that the PR subject demands, a top manager must master theories and methods that contribute to PR having a strategic function for the organization. Consequently, the manager must be able to see what role PR can play in its interaction with other areas of the enterprise such that the organization can achieve the objectives it has defined. Of special importance is here knowledge of methods for strategic implementation of PR.

Outline of topics:
· Communication strategy
· Systems theory
· Strategy and stragegic knowledge
· Communication excellence
· Rhetorical and critical perspectives in PR

2nd Seminar: Influence and persuasion

The seminar aims to give participants insight into the psychological foundation for attitudes and changes of attitude. This knowledge will be put to use in the practical shaping of messages.

Brief description
The seminar will provide and overview of the central theories of information and communication as well as the subjects of influence and persuasion. The structure and function of attitudes will be more closely looked into in addition to the relationship between attitude and behavior. Central theories of attitude change and influence will be reviewed.

Outline of topics
· Persuasion and influence
· Influencing attitude
· Attitude and behavior

3rd Seminar: Environmental scanning, issues management and online PR.

The purpose of this seminar is to provide insight into how the organization is dependent on external relations and how it can handle them, whether these be in the form governments, other organizations, groups or individuals.

Brief description
In order to succeed, an organization is dependent on establishing and maintaining relations with its environment. Consequently, it is necessary to be able to carry out an analysis of its environment and how it can influence the organization. An organization must also keep abreast with issues that can be critical or challenging for its survival and image.

Outline of topics:
· Situation analysis
· Environmental scanning
· Issues management
· Online PR

4th Seminar: Crisis communication, media relations, assessment

The purpose of this seminar is to provide students with an insight into crisis communication as well as the media’s tasks, functions and working methods. The seminar will also proved insight into the fundamental methods for planning and assessing PR.

Brief description
In certain situations, difficult issues can develop into crises for an organization. Students will receive a theoretical and practical introduction to crisis communication. The media represents a central component of the environment for an enterprise. In order to be able to handle its relationship with the media in a rational fashion, knowledge of what role the different media have in society, their function and how journalists work is necessary. The interplay between PR personnel and the media should also be understood within a broader power perspective. Providing advice to top management regarding how to conduct themselves and handle the media is also an important task for PR personnel. The seminar will also provide a foundation for making decisions in connection with the planning and assessment of PR, which is a top management responsibility.

Topic outline
· Crisis communication
· Communication management and management counseling
· Media relations
· The media’s role and mentality
· Planning and assessment of PR

5th Seminar: Image, identity and rhetoric

The intention of this seminar is to give participants insight into what such concepts as reputation, identity and image represent. And how can this be measured? What influences an organization’s reputation? Why is reputation important? The intention here is that students should be able to use this knowledge in practical situations in connection with their “image management” in an organization.

Brief description
The importance of a good reputation is often talked about. But what is reputation? How is it created and how can it be threatened? And what consequences does reputation have for different groups of stakeholders, such as employees, customers and the financial market? How do you measure reputation? And how can image management be carried out? How can workers contribute to shaping the organization’s reputation? And how can the organization itself influence its image through the rhetoric that it uses? These are topics that will be covered during this seminar.

Topic outline
· The construct of reputation, measuring reputation and the consequences of reputation
· Identity and reputation
· Argumentation, rhetoric and reputation

Learning process
The seminars primarily use lectures. In addition, students work with group tasks/cases in connection with some of the topics taught at the seminars.
Between seminars students will work in individually initiated groups (volunteer participation). These groups will work with tasks connected to topics related to a seminar that are regarded as particularly central in the syllabus literature.

The project paper in the PR management and strategic communication program is based on an individually chosen subject. The paper is given a letter grade that comprises 60% of the final grade in the course. The purpose of the paper is to give students the opportunity to show their ability to shed light on a problem through the use of individual treatment of relevant literature in connection with the chosen specialization. If they so wish, candidates may gather empirical data for the paper.

For students who are taking this program as their final program there are other regulations for the project paper. For these students, the final project paper in the Master’s course in PR management and strategic communication will be comprised of an individually chosen project paper. The paper is given a letter grade that makes up 80% of the final grade in the course. The paper will provide training in applying empirical date and relevant theory to analyze and assess a problem, as well as plan possible strategies with regard to PR management and strategic communication. The theory will provide better understanding of what processes are in play, as well as what might be done and why. Applying theory constructively is a skill that does not come of itself and this project provides a platform for training at it. The project paper will also provide training in the use of empirical data and relevant literature as aids for solving problems in relation to information/information management.

Two to three days during the seminars are devoted to the project paper. During the first seminar, time is allocated to reviewing the procedures for project counseling, as well as an introduction to such topics as the shaping of the project’s approach to the problem, etc. Students are given information concerning how the process of work on the paper should be carried out. During the second seminar, one day is devoted to the project paper. This is in the form of short lectures on such topics as problem theory, literature, etc. After each topic lecture, students work in small groups to use this material in making concrete choices for their own project papers
During the fourth seminar, one day is devoted to student plenary presentations of their project ideas.


This is an excerpt from the complete course description for the course. If you are an active student at BI, you can find the complete course descriptions with information on eg. learning goals, learning process, curriculum and exam at portal.bi.no. We reserve the right to make changes to this description.