The course I’m teaching is based on actual public relations cases, which is a great way to understand how theory can be applied to practice. The relevance hit me yesterday as I leafed through the Metro section of the NYT and began reading about the closing of a hospital in Newark, NJ. For a moment, I thought I was reading the textbook – the case was nearly identical to that of Mercy Hospital-Detroit.
In Newark, the community is protesting the closing of St. James and a sister hospital, Columbus Health. Catholic Health East, which is buying three hospitals from Catholic Healthcare, will consolidate operations at the third, St. Michael’s. Catholic Health East has agreed to form a steering committee to hear the community’s concerns. Listening is the first step in dealing with community issues, and it’s unclear from the article how much feedback Catholic Health East sought before telling the community about the closing. In the Mercy case, the research helped lead to a more positive outcome.
Practical experience also – not surprisingly – is gained by doing. My students are getting practical experience in blogging, which I hope will give them an additional tool for running successful PR campaigns. I’m learning with them. If you doubt the power of a blog, think about this: Less than a week after we started blogging, David Meerman Scott discovered my students’ blog posts through his Google Alerts. He then posted comments to their blogs. How cool is that?