As I look over the syllabus for the communications class I’m about to begin teaching at American University, it’s evident that technology has forced a change in the curriculum.
No longer can universities send students into the world equipped only to write for print, broadcast or public relations. That’s the way it was not so long ago; students picked a lane and began specializing as soon as possible. And they stayed in their lanes.
Today’s technology has put a messaging arsenal in the hands of communicators, and students expecting to find work better understand tools, strategy and messaging.
Not that we should diminish the importance of fundamentals. Quite the contrary. I will stress precision and clarity this semester. We will work on speed without sacrificing accuracy. We will drill to ensure that the writing is timely, relevant, and engaging.
At some point I will steer them to this website and others like it, and we will touch on writing for the web, updating online, writing blog posts and crafting video scripts. We will discuss what makes a good headline and a bad cutline.
We will look at associated Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and YouTube pages, and talk about what works and why. Someone will mention good fundamentals, and I’ll smile to myself because I’ll know they’re on the right track.
You can stay up all night perusing all the social media tools now available. Long before dawn, it will be apparent that while the delivery vehicles change, the fundamentals remain the same. And you better get them right. At least that’s my view. What’s yours?