Our approach

Overview

(From Prof. Pearson’s current syllabus)

People who used to be known as professional writers are now “content providers” expected to be capable of crafting messages using multiple media, across multiple platforms, and using a range of tools and techniques. In addition, aspiring professional content providers have to take responsibility for their own professional development.

This course is designed to expose you to what professional content providers do, help you find your niche, and help you own and build your personal brand in a manner consistent with the field’s best practices. Because the field of content creation is broad, the genres of writing to which you exposed in this course are necessarily selective. They include elements of technical writing, public relations and marketing communications. This course will not focus upon creative writing (for game design or animation) or news reporting.

This course is a required introductory course for students in both the journalism/professional writing and interactive multimedia majors and minors.

Real Projects With Real Clients

This is the way that I used my approach to teaching this class, describe this class, which used to be called “Introduction to Professional Writing.”

There are two core professional writing courses: Introduction to Professional Writing, and Topics in Professional Writing. Both courses require students to study and solve commmunications-related problems for real clients. Intro students are often told that they function as creative end of a virtual communications consulting firm, while the Topics students constitute the Account Management department of the same firm. We sometimes deviate from the model. For example, the fall, 1997 Intro class, and one section of the fall, 1998 Intro class is functioning as a self-managed creative team, each with its own client.

Regardless of the premise, the course content of the intro class focuses upon acquiring and refining such skills as: writing memos, pitch letters and news releases, and creating direct mail packages, presentations, and web pages. The Topics students will generally be expected to use skills acquired in the introductory-level courses to craft mission statements, conduct a SWOT analysis for a client, and to propose and execute communications programs designed to enhance the client’s competitive advantage.

In the Spring, 1999, semester, the Topics in Professional Writing class will be taught by an editor and a graphic designer from Bloomberg, L.P.. The course will serve as an introduction to both desktop publishing and financial reporting. Students will use PageMaker(tm) to create newsletters designed to teach novice reporters about the both financial markets and the economy. This will be the third time that the class has been offered in this way, and we expect to make it a regular part of the class schedule.

This is excerpted from a fuller description of the early history of the class, located here.

This semester’s project

All three fall, 2013 sections of the class are developing proposals for a voter education website and social media strategy designed to spur increased voter participation and engagement in the next Trenton Mayoral election in May, 2014. We are partnering with the non-partisan civic education group Beautiful Trenton in this effort. In Spring, 2014, Prof. Kathleen Webber’s class will carry the project to fruition. Communication between classes occurs via a shared wiki.

Screen shot, Brown v Board Digital ArchiveThe planning and implementation of this project is similar to the process used in the development of the Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Digital Archive, built by students in the 2003-2004 sections of Introduction to Professional Writing.

 

Disclaimer

This is an engaged learning project created by undergraduate students at The College of New Jersey. This project is not connected with any political party or organization, and no endorsement of particular candidates or policies is expressed or implied on the part of the site’s creators, Beautiful Trenton or The College of New Jersey. Efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy and objectivity of all contents.