COM428: It’s gonna be a breeze

Photo | BIG_MOUSE | COM428, the 1st paper

Photo | BIG_MOUSE | COM428, the 1st paper

And I quote, “The exams would be a breeze.” A breeze, it totally was not. 3 questions all in all, in 2 hours. More like a tornado as described and/or echoed by many of my classmates. Here are the 3 questions.

  1. You are the media liaison person to the President of Chile. Craft a press release about the failed rescue attempt and how workers are trying to burrow a 2nd shaft.
    • This question is relatively easy and straightforward. Nothing out of the ordinary. Read the news wire and craft the release. The only problem was that we had only about 45 minutes to intentionally craft a PR-ish press release that has all 5Ws and 1 Hs and also include quotations and statements to apologise. All in 45 minutes. How is this possible?
  2. Write up a financial press release for DBS’s June 2010 financial performance results
    • This question takes the cake. Again, in about 45 minutes, we were to analyse 13 pages of a real (and raw) financial statement filled with boring tables, numbers and percentages. All in 45 minutes. Not only do we need to analyse, we still needed to write a financial press release to highlight DBS’ achievements, profits, losses, expenditure.
    • interpreting a financial statement is tedious enough. So tedious that I missed the point about how goodwill (amortisation) should be addressed too. Long story. blah!
  3. Lastly, craft an opening speech for the Chairman of DBS for a press conference
    • Without question, this final question of the paper is the easiest of the lot. Since it was an open-book exam, we just had to use the template that QHW gave us. Tweaking it slightly, tada, this question is done. I allocated 45 minutes for this, but thankfully, it only took me 30 minutes to get this done. I was then able to go back to the first two questions to beef them up.

Logically speaking, I really don’t think that real PR practitioners need to come up and intentionally craft 2 news/press releases and 1 opening speech script in 2 hours. Upon asking the lecturer after the exams, he told us that normally, PR people are given 2 weeks to do up a release. My goodness, and we were expected to do up THREE in TWO hours. Handwritten work, no less. I wasted more ink cancelling and rewriting, than actually writing real content. The examination paper was way too tedious to be completed within the 2 hours given to us.

All in all, QHW brings truckloads of good content and knowledge to COM428 PUBLIC RELATIONS WRITING. Because of his experience at a renowned bank and a local newspaper, he was very able to provide insights that other lecturers cannot. He is not a professor, by the way. However, his course may be biased towards the journalistic and the financial writers’ point of view. This course provides a macro perspective of Public Relations, not just about writing, writing and writing.

Teaching COM428 for the very first time, he definitely had some problems understanding the structure and the workload of WKWSCI students. The course outline and/or format will change (for the better, i hope) in the semesters to come.

Should I take COM428 or not? I can’t answer this question. But for me, I actually liked this course because of the information taught and real life experiences were shared with us. The structure of the course, especially for the tutorials, can be improved. More writing tips and exercises can be introduced. Sadly, the exam paper was the killer.


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