This Area of Concentration examines all of the important components of communication in an organizational context.

Successful organizations have solid internal and external communication strategies. Study how managers communicate with staff, how businesses and non-profits communicate with the media, and how advertisers and marketers persuade potential consumers and donors. Courses include branding and advertising, integrated marketing communication, corporate social responsibility campaign strategies, and managerial communication.

Area of Concentration Courses

A minimum of three courses are required to earn this Area of Concentration within the MA in Communication degree.

This course explores the complexities and strategies of internal and external communications in public, private, and non-profit organizations. As a leadership tool, communications serves a political, informational, symbolic and influential function. Topics covered include a competency-based approach of organizational communication, the interplay between internal and external communications, communicating effectiveness through problem-solving, decision-making, managing conflict and mitigating crises, organizational change management, addressing workforce diversity issues and others. Students gain exposure to various dimensions of organizational communication from different industry leaders and field experts and gain first-hand experience in critiquing, crafting and developing communication strategies, tactics and tools, as communication professionals and leaders in the workplace.

Communication professionals use qualitative methods to craft messages that resonate with audiences. This hands-on class exposes students to qualitative research methods that can be used on the job to guide communication efforts more strategically. Students learn how to design and conduct studies to gain insight into audience perceptions on a variety of issues. Specific techniques covered include in-depth interviews, focus groups, qualitative content analyses, and case studies. Through applied activities, students learn how to collect, analyze, and present qualitative research data. Students should take this course prior to the semester in which they begin their research for Thesis. Prerequisite: 480.600 Research and Writing Methods.

Have you ever doubted whether you are doing the right thing as a communication researcher or practitioner? Regardless of whether you realize it, you base your professional decisions and subsequent actions on morals, referring to them in different ways. For example, you may turn to your inner compass, organization’s values, or professional codes of conduct. This course will not give you quick and easy solutions; however, it will help you learn how to use an ethics framework with confidence as you move forward in your career. In particular, you will learn how to consider the one or more moral problems related to a situation, facts, options for moving forward, and values to consider throughout the process. Readings will draw from fictional and non-fictional literature, news and popular media, and industry and academic research. Not only the instructor but also other communication professionals will deliver lectures. Throughout the semester, you will work as an individual and in groups to use your critical thinking to complete various activities, including reflection, discussion, presentation, and writing based on current, real-world case studies. Your experience will culminate with a final project.

This course is designed to give students an opportunity to learn about strategic online approaches and techniques affecting and influencing public affairs. During this course, students will develop the knowledge to: Distinguish between public affairs and other forms of communication, such as public relations, Describe the different components of digital public affairs communications, Conduct basic outreach and adhere to ethics guidelines, Propose and choose from the most effective public affairs tools and tactics to achieve a client’s goals, Describe the role of stakeholders and create a target list of issue stakeholders for an issue-based organization or corporation that practices corporate social responsibility, Create a comprehensive public affairs influence plan.

Marketing and communication are changing. The levers that we have pulled for years to sell products and services, change behaviors, and advocate for causes, no longer work the way they did. As trust in media and marketing plummets, trust in our peers, friends, family, and colleagues rises. Today we recognize new influencers in the people sitting next to us. Now, sparking a digital conversation is just as important as crafting messages, forming partnerships, and driving media coverage. Call it influencer marketing or brand stewardship in the network age; it’s all public relations. This class covers how to design impactful public relations strategies in the age of digital influence and, ultimately, how to support business imperatives more effectively through public relations.

Students examine the primary reasons non-profit organizations exist, and the unique communication challenges they face in reaching their audiences and motivating their desired behaviors. They will examine leading trends in 21st century communication, and assess how non-profit communicators can capitalize on these trends for the benefit of their organizations. Finally, they will devise practical solutions to one or more of a non-profit “client’s” challenges, using one or more of a wide variety of communication tools offered in the current media landscape.

You have 3.5 seconds to capture a web visitor’s attention. How do you make sure your website entices them to stick around and learn more? This course examines how compelling web content is essential to engaging visitors and driving their behavior. We’ll explore writing styles appropriate for B2B and B2C websites and blogs, and work with a variety of content formats, such as videos, infographics, contests, polls, and more. Using the website as the hub for content, we’ll cover techniques for driving web visitors to your site with inbound and outbound content marketing strategies. We’ll discuss the intersection of search engine optimization, social media and content marketing and the importance of an integrated approach to content creation and distribution. Lectures and exercises draw on real-world examples from a variety of industries. By the end of the semester, students will be able to create and execute a comprehensive content marketing program.

In this class students learn about multiple social and digital media tools, such as blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, along with platforms to manage social media content and understand social media analytics. Students apply what they learn by developing a social media campaign for a company or organization that they choose. Each week, students learn how to use social media tools to effectively tell an organization’s story. Students also learn the theories behind why social and digital media shape the ways that customers, advocates, audiences and consumers are interacting with influencers and organizations. By the end of the semester, students will be able to not just answer, but inspire, the inevitable questions: Why should we care about social media? How can we put social and digital media to work for our personal and organizational brands?

This course will teach you how to critically evaluate media, create effective visual communication by identifying key elements of a visual message, and apply relevant theory as it relates to visual message design. This course provides an overview of the approaches and strategies communication practitioners use to incorporate media literacy in their practices. This course will address the following questions: What is media literacy and how does it relate to visual communication? How can visual media be used effectively to promote strategic messages or positive change? How can we critically evaluate the quality of visual messages and create effective and ethical visual communication?

In today’s complex digital media environment, companies and organizations expect communication practitioners to possess advanced social media management skills. Students in the Advanced Social Media course will gain in-depth knowledge in social media ecosystems, social business models, and digital media policy and law. In addition, students will have an opportunity to analyze quantitative and qualitative data to extract audience insights; develop and implement strategies; create engaging content and messages; and ultimately become skilled social media practitioners. Prerequisites: Students must have completed either 480.601 Intro to the Digital Age, or 480.637 Using Social and Digital Media prior to taking this course.

The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement is a world-wide phenomenon, and corporations, trade associations and nonprofits are being asked to step up and be accountable. Public relations and communication professionals need to develop the skills to prepare strategic communication plans that reflect their organization's commitment to CSR in order to protect and enhance their employer's reputation in the marketplace. This course examines the global CSR movement, explores the communication challenges it presents and offers practical suggestions and tactics to respond to this trend. The class features in-class activities, outside research and guest speakers from NGOs, communication firms, and major corporations with practical advice on meeting this challenge in the global marketplace.

Branding and advertising are major components of any business or non-profit organization. Showcasing products and services in creative ways increases visibility and improves sales. This course teaches students how to develop brands, create concepts and develop advertising campaigns. Students also learn practical tips including how to organize a creative department, write a creative brief, create budgets and time-lines, research and purchase visual imagery, and how to determine appropriate media for particular branding and advertising campaigns.

Writer and historian James Humes said, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.” It is that simple comment that forms the foundation of this course. Here students explore the role of communication with stakeholders including subordinates, superiors, internal and external customers, suppliers and the community. Students examine effective communication in hiring and promoting, in conflict, in community interaction and in the internal communication of an organization. The class is built around three precepts or questions: With whom does one communicate, what does one communicate and how does one communicate effectively?

How do professionals in the nonprofit/government/issue- oriented world determine what communication strategies will help their cause? Students will be introduced to various critical theoretical frameworks and sets of conditions that describe how social challenges occur. Students in this skills-based course will individually identify a social change challenge, target specific audiences and develop various communication strategies and tactics that will advocate for, and guide their desired social change. Examples are based on global real-world experiences and address some of the challenges involved in working in the nonprofit space.

This course covers strategic leadership and communication program development, management and evaluation. It emphasizes formative communication research, strategic communication objectives and message design, selection of media, development of materials, management of teams and impact evaluation. Crisis and issues management as well as the use of new communication technologies will also be covered. The course will focus on a step-by-step design of a communication program using SCOPE (Strategic Communication Planning and Evaluation) worksheets. The course requires you to develop a strategic communication plan. This course combines reality-based and conceptual approaches to provide you with the intellectual tools needed to assume senior management or outside counsel roles in developing and implementing fully integrated communications programs. You will prepare for program management by asking - and answering – appropriate questions about goals, activities, management, and measurement. There will be core readings as well as use of research and planning exercises.

Communication professionals must often grapple with issues of whether and how their fields are regulated. These concerns are magnified for organizations working in global contexts, forcing practitioners to consider issues of censorship and regulation within multiple jurisdictions. Knowing these rights and boundaries allows professional communicators to protect their work as well as to serve their audiences most effectively. Using the United States as a starting point, this course will explore legal trends and issues that affect communicators and their audiences while also comparing to international regulations.  

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists public relations as one of the fastest growing professions in the United States. This introductory course, designed for career changers and those new to public relations, details the ideas, skills, and principles that underlie the public relations craft. Students in this class study the role and contributions of public relations practitioners in contemporary society, learn about potential legal and ethical aspects of the practice of public relations, study the communication process and how persuasion is used with various audiences, and learn how to develop a strategic communication plan to achieve specific goals and objectives. The class will also introduce students to specialized practice areas within the public relations field such as business and industry, government, nonprofit and associations, and health care.

The primary goal of this course is for students to develop the professional-level persuasive writing skills expected of the best PR practitioners. Students are given weekly writing assignments outside of class and write on deadline during many class periods. The course covers various forms of public relations writing including press releases, op-ed essays, crisis communications and internal communications. Written work is judged using 10 tenets of good writing: organization, persuasion, clarity, focus, flow, tone, proper usage, timeliness, accuracy and relevance.

This course provides students with a fundamental understanding of crisis management, risk communication, media relations, and public-opinion research techniques in multiple contexts. It introduces students to crisis management principles, strategies, tactics and communication methods. Course participants work as a team to develop a crisis management plan for analysis and discussion. Successful students are able to transfer to the workplace the knowledge and skills developed in this course. Students learn to predict, manage, and control real-world controversies that they may confront as they pursue their careers. Moreover, students are able to manage effectively, participate in, and control volatile situations involving the news media.

Media outreach is a critical piece of any strategic communication effort. This course prepares students to build, implement, and measure earned media programs that achieve policy, business and philanthropic objectives. Class lectures, guest speakers, readings and assignments give students an understanding of the priorities and expectations of various types of contemporary media, and how to successfully engage them through research-based strategies and tactics designed to reach key audiences.

Integrated marketing communication (IMC) breaks down the traditional advertising, public relations, and marketing silos by challenging practitioners to apply the optimum mix of media and message to motivate target audiences to act. An increasingly complex digital environment supports the need to embrace IMC as a comprehensive approach. In this course, students learn what IMC is, its relevance in an online world, and how to apply the appropriate communication channels and messages based upon audiences’ needs and the business realities of marketing campaigns. During the semester, students develop a toolkit of steps to follow to attain marketing success. Through simulation exercises, case study analysis, and self-directed reading, students develop a results-oriented and measurable marketing campaign proposal.

This course demonstrates the important role market research—and the use of existing data to better understand audience and environment—plays in the overall campaign process. This course will focus on the integral steps that facilitate target audience definition and how to extract a keen understanding of this audience and its interactions within its environment to develop effective campaign strategy. The course’s structure and various assignments will often mimic a client/consultant relationship to ensure a real-world experience. To that end, the instructors will play the role of “client” in many instances, asking students to articulate how an assignment or deliverable contributes to the overall goals of the campaign.

This course examines the meaning and importance of intercultural communication as it applies to individuals, groups, organizations and nations. Students examine the meaning of “culture” and how “culture” can affect personal, national and international understanding and communication, beliefs and behaviors. The course examines the difficulties and dangers that can result from cultural misunderstanding. In a modern world with diverse communication methods, there is an ever-increasing need for intercultural understanding and communication. The course investigates the various ways in which cultures differ and the necessity of understanding and respecting other cultures. The course assists communication professionals to be more effective with external communication campaigns in other countries and internal communication within a diverse workplace. The course emphasizes clear and logical spoken and written expression to enhance individual ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures.

Students should be aware of state-specific information for online programs. For more information, please contact an admissions representative.

Audience Menu