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57132 Media Relations

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular semester, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2015 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Communication: Public Communication
Credit points: 8 cp
Result type: Grade, no marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


In this subject, students explore the role and uses of media relations for communication management. They explore the relationship between journalism and public relations and the structures, regulatory frameworks and processes relevant to developing media strategies. They review mass communication research traditions such as media effects theories and agenda setting, applying their understanding to issues for professional public relations practice. Public opinion and diffusion of ideas and innovations are examined, along with the concept of the public interest. Students investigate ways in which new media have changed the landscape for communicating with publics and for media relations. They practise developing media plans and products to broaden their awareness of the diversity of media channels. In their final project, they develop briefing notes and perform as interviewees in the UTS television studios.

Subject objectives

a. Understand the place of media relations in public relations practice
b. Critically examine mass communication research traditions
c. Understand media structures, ownership and regulations
d. Apply newsworthiness principles to the production of professional public relations plans and communication products
e. Identify critical paths of influence and innovation
f. Identify and apply the basic constructs of relationship–building to media relations
g. Develop appropriate briefing notes for media interviews and perform to a professional standard as an interviewee

Teaching and learning strategies

A variety of teaching and learning strategies will be used, including lectures, workshops, visiting speakers, seminar presentations and online discussion. The learning program is designed for students to learn independently as well as to interact productively in small groups. Students will participate in interviews in the UTS Multimodal studio. Interviews will be filmed for the purpose of marking or double-marking. Any recording of these interviews will be destroyed after marking is complete.


  • Role of media relations in communication management
  • Relationship between journalism and public relations
  • Media strategy development: the relevant structures and processes; strategy planning, objectives and evaluation
  • 'Mass' communication research traditions: media effects theories, agenda setting, cultivation. Implications for media relations
  • Public opinion and diffusion of ideas and innovations
  • Public interest and new media
  • Media interview functions, techniques and roles
  • Preparation for interviews; identifying type and purpose; training in techniques, role-plays.


Assessment task 1: Essay


a, b and c

Weight: 40
Length: 2200-2500 words

Demonstrated ability to:

  • clearly explain, discuss and analyse concepts and theories as they relate to the practice of media relations;
  • identify and critically examine an issue for media relations which warrants debate or exploration (justify);
  • refer to appropriate concepts and literature to support issue selection, analysis and discussion;
  • adopt a critical, analytic role in the assessment of theory and communication practices;
  • produce clear and grammatical written expression, with no typographical, referencing (use UTS Harvard), spelling or punctuation errors;
  • adhere to word limit.

Assessment task 2: Media strategy


d, e and f

Weight: 25

1200-1500 words


Demonstrated ability to:

  • devise an achievable and appropriate media strategy for this scenario, the client publics and media outlet, based on research and sound argument;
  • devise measurable and appropriate objectives for the media strategy;
  • provide a convincing rationale;
  • prepare written materials to a professional standard including appropriate structure, accurate referencing, spelling, punctuation and grammar, clarity of expression, and absence of typographical errors;
  • adhere to word limits.

Assessment task 3: Media kit


a, d and f

Weight: 15

Demonstrated ability to:

  • produce a media release which conforms to layout and style conventions and uses a newsworthy angle for identified publics and objectives in the media strategy;
  • produce backgrounders which are informative and well-researched, observe format and style conventions, complement the media release, and work to achieve the objectives of the strategy;
  • prepare written materials to a professional standard including appropriate structure, accurate referencing, spelling, punctuation and grammar, clarity of expression, and absence of typographical errors;
  • adhere to word limits.

Assessment task 4: Television interview preparation and television performance


d, f and g

Weight: 20

Demonstrated ability to:

  • anticipate difficult or challenging questions for your interview and devise credible, appropriate answers;
  • develop an angle which is newsworthy and succinct, engaging key messages;
  • devise appropriate objectives for the interview;
  • achieve your stated objectives for the interview;
  • be well prepared for the interview, including nonverbal presentation;
  • perform well as a spokesperson/interviewee, appearing credible, honest, sensitive and professional without unnecessary avoidance or obfuscation;
  • prepare written materials to a professional standard including appropriate structure, accurate referencing, spelling, punctuation and grammar, clarity of expression, and absence of typographical errors;
  • adhere to word limits.

Minimum requirements

Students are expected to read the subject outline to ensure they are familiar with the subject requirements. As class discussion and participation in activities form an integral part of this subject, you are expected to attend, arrive punctually and actively participate in classes. If you experience difficulties meeting this requirement, please contact your lecturer. Students who have a reason for extended absence (e.g., illness) may be required to complete additional work to ensure they achieve the subject objectives.

Attendance is important in this subject because it is based on a collaborative approach that involves essential workshopping and interchange of ideas with other students and the tutor. Students who fail to attend 85% of scheduled classes will be refused permission to have their final assessment item assessed (see Rule 3.8). An attendance roll will be taken at each scheduled class. Where possible, students should advise the lecturer in a timely manner if they are unable to attend.

Recommended texts

eReadings are available online for this subject. They are a small selection of articles and chapters to supplement lecture material. Go to 'Subject Documents' in UTSOnline.


Alysen, B., Oakham, M.,Patching, R., Sedorkin, G. 2011, Reporting in a multimedia world, 2nd edn, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW.
Berger, A.A. 2013, Media and communication research methods: an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches, 3rd edn, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Botan, C.H. & Hazleton, V. (eds.) 2006, Public relations theory II, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, Mahwah, NJ & London.
Briggs, M. 2009, JournalismNext: A practical guide to digital reporting and publishing, CQ Press, Washington, DC.
Bryant, J. & Oliver, M. (eds.) 2009, Media effects: advances in theory and research, 3rd edn, Routledge, New York.
Butsch, R. (ed.) 2007, Media and public spheres, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK, New York.
Butsch, R. & Livingstone, S. 2014, Meanings of audiences: comparative discourses, Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon, & New York.
Cottle, S. (ed.) 2003, News, public relations and power, Sage Publications, London, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Croteau, D. & Haynes, W. 2012, Media Society: Industries, images, and audiences, 4th edn, SAGE, Thousand Oaks.
Cunningham, S. & Turnbull, S. (eds.) 2014, The media & communications in Australia, 4th edn, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, Australia.
Dearing, J.W. & Rogers, E.M. 1996, Agenda-setting, SAGE, Thousand Oaks, CA, London.
Devereux, E. 2014, Understanding the media, 3rd edn, SAGE, Los Angeles.
Downing, J. (ed.) 2004, The SAGE handbook of media studies, SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Ferguson, S.D. 2000, Researching the public opinion environment: theories and methods, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, London.
Ginneken, Jaap van 2003, Collective behavior and public opinion: rapid shifts in opinion and communication, L. Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ.
Heath, R.L. (ed.) 2010, The SAGE handbook of public relations, 2nd edn, Sage Publications, Los Angeles.
Hirst, M. & Harrison, J. 2007, Communication and new media: from broadcast to narrowcast, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria.
Klingemann, H.-D. & Rommele, A. (eds.) 2002, Public information campaigns and opinion research: a handbook for the student & practitioner, Sage, London.
Macnamara, J. 2012, Public relations: Theories, practices, critiques, Pearson Australia, Frenchs Forest, NSW.
Macnamara, J. 2014, The 21st century media (r)evolution: emergent communication practices, 2nd edn, Peter Lang, New York.
McCauley, M.P., Artz, B.L., Halleck, D, Peterson, E.E. & Artz, P.U. (eds.) 2003, Public broadcasting and the public interest, M.E. Sharpe, Armonk, NY.
McQuail, D. 2010, McQuail's mass communication theory, 6th edn, SAGE, London.
Mickey, T.J. 2003, Deconstructing public relations: public relations criticism, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, Mahwah, NJ.
Perry, D.K. 2002, Theory and research in mass communication: contexts and consequences, Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, London.
Potter, W.J. 2012, Media effects, SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA
Richardson, J.E. (ed.) 2010, Language and journalism, Routledge, London & New York.
Ruddock, A. 2007, Investigating audiences, SAGE Publications, London.
Ruler, B. van, Vercic, A.T. & Vercic, D. (eds) 2008, Public relations metrics: research and evaluation, Routledge, New York.
Schroder, K., Drotner, K., Kline, S. & Murray, C. 2003, Researching audiences, Oxford University Press, New York.
Sedorkin, G. 2011, Interviewing: a guide for journalists and writers, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW.
Smith, R.D. 2013, Strategic planning for public relations, 4th edn, Routledge, London, New York.
Sommers, S. 2009, Building media relationships, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, Don Mills, Ontario; Oxford.
Sparks, G.G. 2010, Media effects research: a basic overview, 3rd edn, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Boston, MA.
Stanton, R. 2007, Media Relations, Oxford University Press, Sth Melbourne, Vic.
Stempel, G.H. III, Weaver, D.H. & Wilhoit, G.C., (eds.) 2003, Mass communication research and theory, Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA.
Stevenson, N. 2002, Understanding media cultures: social theory and mass communication, Sage, London.
Traudt, P. 2005, Media, audiences, effects, Pearson Education, Boston.
Warner, M. 2002, Publics and counterpublics, Zone Books, New York, NY; MIT Press [distributor], London.
Weber, L. 2009, Sticks & stones: How digital reputations are created over time and lost in a click, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.
Williams, K. 2003, Understanding media theory, Arnold, London.

Resources for public relations and media writing
Broom, G.M. 2013, Cutlip & Center's effective public relations, 11th edn, Pearson, Boston.
Guth, D.W. & Marsh, C. 2012, Public relations: A values-driven approach, 5th edn, Pearson Allyn and Bacon, Boston.
Hicks, W. with Adams, S., Gilbert, H. & Holmes, T. 2008, Writing for journalists, 2nd edn, Routledge, London, New York.
Johnston, J. & Zawawi, C. (eds.) 2009, Public relations: theory and practice, 3rd edn, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW.
Newsom, D. 2014, Public relations writing: form and style, 10th edn, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Boston, MA.
Stewart, S. 2004, Media training 101: a guide to meeting the press, John Wiley, Hoboken, NJ.
Treadwell, D.F. & Treadwell, J.B. 2004, Public relations writing: principles in practice, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Wilcox, D.L. 2013, Public relations writing and media techniques, 7th edn, Pearson Education, Boston.
Yopp, J.J., McAdams, K.C. & Thornburg, R. 2010, Reaching audiences: a guide to media writing, 5th edn, Allyn and Bacon, Boston.
Zappala, J.M. & Carden, A.R. 2010, Public relations writing worktext: A practical guide for the profession, 3rd edn, Routledge, New York & London.