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CMST 4X03 Comm For Campaigns, Elections

Academic Year: Winter 2018

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Mark Dottori


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 333

Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: 1-2 pm

Course Objectives:

COURSE DESCRIPTION What are communication campaigns? What makes a campaign persuasive? How do communications campaigns work? What role do media relations play in a campaign? What makes certain messages resonate? What is the difference between a communications campaign for a for-profit, not-for-profit, and for an election? This course will seek to address these questions from both tactical, strategic, and critical perspectives.


Learning objectives Students completing the course would be expected to achieve four main learning objectives:

  • Familiarity with key theories of communication campaign strategy and tactics, as well as key critiques of campaign practices.
  • An understanding of the various influences and key issues surrounding the creation and prosecution of a communications campaign.
  • The ability to apply critical, strategic and tactical thinking to produce a mock communications campaign.
  • A critical vocabulary for discussing the effects of campaigns on society, culture and public consciousness.
  • An understanding of how an electoral campaign is structured and prosecuted using the R.A.C.E. (Research, Action, Communication, Evaluation) model of public relations.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

  1. R. 2016. Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade.

      2. Dornan, C. & Pammett, J. 2016 The Canadian Federal Election of 2015. Toronto,


      3. Lakoff, G. 2014. Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate.

              White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing. 

      4. Adams, S. (2017) Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter.

             Random House 

       5. Luntz, F. 2008. Words that Work, Revised Edition. New York: Hyperion.

Method of Assessment:


20% Each Student will present a chapter to the class from the Canadian Federal Election of 2015 (to be assigned the first week of class). Each presentation will be 30 minutes in length, followed by a student led Q&A session.

20% Participation (in class and within the student led Q&A sessions)

5% Class Attendance

40% Campaign Strategy, Tactics & Literature Project

(5%) Campaign Mission, Vision, Values (Due Jan. 22)

(5%) Audience, Stakeholder & Media Analysis (Feb. 12)

(10%) Social Media Strategy & Tactics (March 5)

(20%) Campaign Products Kit (March 19)

(10%) Campaign Presentations (April 2)

15% Final exam (April 9)

Assignments will be submitted in class. Due dates for project sections to be announced in class.

Final Examination.
The final examination will take place on the last day of class (April 9). The final examination will be made up of definitions, short answer and essay questions.

There is a formal participation grade in this course. Grades will be based on the quality of as well as quality of your class interactions. This includes participation in the Q&A section of the presentations by your fellow students. In addition, to succeed in the communications campaign project, the simulated communications events and the final examination, you need to grasp concepts that we discuss in class. The best way to do that is to participate.

Class Attendance.
Attendance is mandatory. This class will cover a great deal of material, much of which is very technical. If ill, please contact the instructor for further assistance on missed material.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late Work
Any work handed in late will result in a grade of zero.
Your assignments are due during the class or by arrangement with myself, otherwise assignments will be deemed late. Handing in late assignments will not be penalized for legitimate certifiable reasons such as illness or the death of a close family member. You must provide evidence for your reason.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:


Week 1 (January 8)

  • Theme: Critical Thinking.
  • Introduction of Campaign Project
  • Mission, Vision, Values, and Campaign Planning

Week 2 (January 15)

  • Theme: Framing and Reframing
  • Research and Audience/Stakeholder Segmentation
  • CFE2015: Introduction : The long goodbye – The contours of the election

Week 3 (January 22)

  • Theme: 10 Rules of Successful Communication
  • Strategic Messaging and Tactics (selecting media, communication and technology tools)
  • CFE2015: Stephen Harper and the Conservatives campaign – Defeated but not devastated
  • Guest Speaker Rebecca Mountain of Impetuous Consulting (Social Media in Communication Campaigns)
  • Assignment 1 Due

Week 4 (January 29)

  • Theme: Preventing Message Mistakes
  • Communication Campaign Measurement/Evaluation
  • CFE2015: Back to the Future – The resurgent Liberals

Week 5 (February 5)

  • Theme: Words We Remember
  • Public Opinion and Persuasion Part 2: Pre-suasion
  • CFE2015: From third to first and back to third: The 2015 NDP campaign

Week 6 (February 12)

  • Theme: Be the Message
  • Public Opinion and Persuasion
  • CFE2015: The Bloc Québécois in a rainbow coloured Quebec
  • Assignment 2 Due

Week 7 (February 19)

  • **** READING WEEK ****

Week 8 (February 26)

  • Theme: Organizational Case Studies
  • Preparing materials for the mass media
  • CFE2015: Opportunities and obstacles: The Green Party of Canada’s 2015 Campaign

Week 9 (March 5)

  • Theme: Political Case Studies
  • Trump: Why facts are overrated and seeing a reality in a more useful way
  • The Internet and social media
  • CFE2015: Like, Share, Vote: The CTV Partnership and the 2015 Election
  • Assignment 3 Due

Week 10 (March 12)

  • Theme: What Do People Really Care About?
  • Events and Promotions
  • CFE2015: Mounting a local campaign

Week 11 (March 19)

  • Theme: Myths and Realities About Language and People
  • Reaching Diverse Audiences/ Issues Management
  • CFE2015: A debate about the debates
  • Assignment 4 Due

Week 12 (March 26)

  • Theme: Personal Language for Personal Scenarios
  • CPC London 2012 Communications Plan
  • CFE2015: Because it 2015: Gender and the 2015 Federal Election

Week 13 (April 2)

  • Theme: So What Have We Learned?
  • CFE2015: Polling and the 2015 Federal Election, Its spring again – voting in the 2015 Federal Election
  • Campaign Presentations (Assignment 5)

Week 14 (April 9)

  • Exam

Other Course Information:

Couse will include guest speakers...