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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2014/2015

Term: 2

Day/Evening: E

Instructor: Dr. Alex Sevigny


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 304

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27661


Office Hours: Monday, 5pm-7pm

Course Objectives:

Classroom Location

Togo Salmon Hall, Room 321.

Brief Description

What makes a campaign persuasive? How do communications campaigns work? What role does media relations play in a campaign? What makes certain messages resonate? What is the difference between a communications campaign for a not-for-profit and for an election? This course will seek to answer these questions from both practical and theoretical perspectives.

Theoretical Objectives. Students will learn:

  • the elements of effective communications campaigns;
  • about contemporary perspectives on the theory, research and practice of persuasion;
  • about the Canadian federal election of 2011 from a critical, multidisciplinary perspective;
  • about effective messaging and the ethics of spin.

Practical Objectives. Students will learn:

  • what the elements of a communication campaign are;
  • how to work effectively in groups;
  • how to compose the instruments fundamental to an effective campaign;
  • how to present ideas effectively using powerpoint or keynote;
  • how to deal with the principal in a campaign;
  • how to make up a strategic communications plan.

Guest speakers

There will be several guest speakers from the world of professional communication practice. Students will be expected to incorporate insights from the guest speakers’ presentations into assignments.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required Textbooks. Please note that all of these books are available at significant discount as e-books (Kindle, Kobo, etc.).

  • Delacourt, S. 2013. Shopping for Votes. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre.
  • Dornan, C. & Pammett, J. 2012. The Canadian Federal Election of 2011. Toronto: Dundurn Press.
  • Flanagan, T. 2014. Winning Power: Canadian Campaigning in the 21st Century. Montréal/Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press
  • Gidengil, E., Nevitte, N., Blais, A., Everett, J. & P. Fournier. 2012. Dominance and Decline: Making Sense of Recent Canadian Elections. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 
  • Luntz, F. 2007. Words That Work. Updated Edition. New York: Hyperion.

Method of Assessment:

 R.A.C.E.-based Group Project – Mini Campaign

 45% Total

 Research & Analysis                                    

 Mission, Vision & Values


 January 20, 2015

 Audience/Stakeholder/Media Database &  Analysis


 February 3, 2015


 Communication Strategy


 February 24, 2015

 Communication Plan, Budget & Tactics


 March 3, 2015


 Overall Communications & Evaluation Plan


 March 17, 2015

 Other Assignments



 Comparative Book Review


 March 29, 2015

 Group Presentation on CFE2011 Chapter



 Group Presentation of Mini Campaign Projects


 March 30/April 6, 2015

 Final Examination


 Regular Exam Period

Submission of Assignments

Each assignment must be posted to its dropbox by midnight on the due date.

R.A.C.E.-Based Communications Plan

The R.A.C.E. (Research, Analysis, Communication, Evaluation) model of communications planning is endorsed by the Canadian Public Relations Society as the gold standard planning tool for effective communications campaigns. Students will be following this model to design their campaign plans. Students will form 3-4 member campaign teams and pick an organization (fictional or real) for which to design a campaign.

Mission, Vision, Values Statement

This assignment requires student campaign teams to come up with a top-level mission, vision and values statement for your communication campaign. Please see detailed assignment description and rubric on the course website.

Audience/Stakeholder/Media Database & Analysis

This assignment requires student campaign teams to construct a database that captures and characterizes key audiences, stakeholders and media contacts. A map analysis of the database content using a visualization tool such as Vizio is required. Please see detailed assignment description and rubric on the course website.

Communication Strategy

This assignment requires student campaign teams to formulate a communication strategy that will guide the implementation of tactics. Please see detailed assignment description and rubric on the course website.

Communication Plan, Budget and Tactics

This assignment requires student campaign teams to build a communications plan that outlines the order of operations, examples of tactics and some collateral materials. A realistic and detailed budget must be included. Please see detailed assignment description and rubric on the course website.

Complete Communication & Evaluation Plan

This assignment requires students to list a series of key performance indicators and benchmarks that they hope to meet through the campaign as well as relevant metrics that will be used to gauge progress and results. Please see detailed assignment description and rubric on the course website.

Comparative Book Review

Students will either compare two books from the bibliography provided in this syllabus or writen an in-depth review of one booth that makes reference to other course readings. The book report should be written in the style of an academic book review, following the example of reviews published in the Journal of Professional Communication ( Please see detailed assignment description and rubric on the course website.

Group Presentation on Chapter from Canadian Federal Election 2011

You will present a chapter from the Canadian Federal Election 2011. Optimally, presentations will incorporate references to at least 5 other readings in the course which the chapter illustrates. Presentations should be interactive, visually compelling and last no longer than 50 minutes. Presentations must be accompanied by a one or two page briefing note and handout. Please see detailed assignment description, guide and rubric on the course website.

Group Presentation of Mini Campaign Project

Students will present the results of their mini campaign project to the class. Presentations should be interactive, visually compelling and last no longer than 20 minutes. Presentations must be accompanied by a one or two page briefing note and handout. Please see detailed assignment description, guide and rubric on the course website.

Final Examination

Students will be given a list of questions on the last day of class, of which a selection will comprise the final examination. The will be two hours long and will take place during the official examination period.

Bibliographic Style

All assignments must be formatted according the publication manual of the American Psychological Association (APA). You can find a resource for APA formatting here: 

Online Learning Policy

In this course we will be using Avenuetolearn (A2L). Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor. 

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Policy for 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:”

Policy on MSAFs and Late Work

  • Late submission of an assignment will result in a grade of zero. 

  • You must post each assignment to its A2L dropbox.

  • If you have not made any prior arrangement with the instructor, assignments not submitted to the digital dropbox on A2L will be considered late and will result in a grade of zero for the assignment. Any special arrangements with the instructor concerning the submission of an assignment must be agreed upon at least 24 hours before the due date.

  • Late submission of 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 (doctor's note, death certificate).

    • MSAF will only be honoured if official supporting documentation is provided within 2 days of the filing of the assignment due date to the instructor.

    • Official documentation must be scanned and submitted as an email attachment to an email sent to the instructor.

  • PLEASE NOTE: Computer problems or last minute issues uploading an assignment to A2L are not legitimate reasons for late submission of an assignment. Presenting these reasons as an excuse for late submission of an assignment will result in a grade of zero for the late assignment. 

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Accommodations For Students With Disabilities

If you require special accommodation for learning or have any special needs please let me know of them as soon as possible in order that arrangements can be made. Students with disabilities are encouraged to register with Student Accessibility Services ( 


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Integrity

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. It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty.

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. 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:

  • plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  • improper collaboration in group work.
  • copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Authenticity / Plagiarism Detection

Some courses may use a web-based service ( to reveal authenticity and ownership of student submitted work. For courses using such software, students will be expected to submit their work electronically either directly to or via Avenue to Learn (A2L) plagiarism detection (a service supported by so it can be checked for academic dishonesty.

Students who do not wish to submit their work through A2L and/or must still submit an electronic and/or hardcopy to the instructor. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to or A2L. All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., on-line search, other software, etc.). To see the Policy, please go to

Courses with an On-Line Element

Some courses use on-line elements (e.g. e-mail, Avenue to Learn (A2L), LearnLink, web pages, capa, Moodle, ThinkingCap, etc.). Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of a course using these elements, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in a course that uses on-line elements will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

Online Proctoring

Some courses may use online proctoring software for tests and exams. This software may require students to turn on their video camera, present identification, monitor and record their computer activities, and/or lockdown their browser during tests or exams. This software may be required to be installed before the exam begins.

Conduct Expectations

As a McMaster student, you have the right to experience, and the responsibility to demonstrate, respectful and dignified interactions within all of our living, learning and working communities. These expectations are described in the Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities (the "Code"). All students share the responsibility of maintaining a positive environment for the academic and personal growth of all McMaster community members, whether in person or online.

It is essential that students be mindful of their interactions online, as the Code remains in effect in virtual learning environments. The Code applies to any interactions that adversely affect, disrupt, or interfere with reasonable participation in University activities. Student disruptions or behaviours that interfere with university functions on online platforms (e.g. use of Avenue 2 Learn, WebEx or Zoom for delivery), will be taken very seriously and will be investigated. Outcomes may include restriction or removal of the involved students' access to these platforms.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) at 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. For further information, consult McMaster University’s Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities policy.

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.

Request for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work
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".

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances (RISO)

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religious, indigenous or spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the RISO policy. Students should submit their request to their Faculty Office normally within 10 working days of the beginning of term in which they anticipate a need for accommodation or to the Registrar's Office prior to their examinations. Students should also contact their instructors as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements for classes, assignments, and tests.

Copyright and Recording

Students are advised that lectures, demonstrations, performances, and any other course material provided by an instructor include copyright protected works. The Copyright Act and copyright law protect every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including lectures by University instructors.

The recording of lectures, tutorials, or other methods of instruction may occur during a course. Recording may be done by either the instructor for the purpose of authorized distribution, or by a student for the purpose of personal study. Students should be aware that their voice and/or image may be recorded by others during the class. Please speak with the instructor if this is a concern for you.

Extreme Circumstances

The University reserves the right to change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances (e.g., severe weather, labour disruptions, etc.). Changes will be communicated through regular McMaster communication channels, such as McMaster Daily News, A2L and/or McMaster email.

Topics and Readings:

Monday, January 5, 2015

  • Introduction of Project
  • WTW, Chapter 1 “The 10 Rules of Effective language”
  • D&D, Chapter 1: "Explaining Vote Choice"
  • SFV, Chapter 1: "The Pitch: Let's Get Canada Shopping"
  • WP, Chapter 1: "The Permanent Reality of Campaigning: Fundamental Concepts"

Monday, January 12, 2015

  • WTW, Chapter 2, “Preventing Message Mistakes”
  • D&D, Chapter 2, "The Changing Social Bases of Party Support"
  • SFV, Chapter 2: "The Pitch: Sold Like Soap"
  • WP, Chapter 2: "The Permanent Reality of Campaigning: Playing by the Rules"
  • Presentation: CFE2011: "From Contempt of Parliament to Majority Mandate"

Monday, January 19, 2015

  • WTW, Chapter 3, “Old Words, New Meaning”
  • D&D, Chapter 3, "Values and Beliefs"
  • SFV, Chapter 3: "The Pitch: Scientific Shopping"
  • WP, Chapter 3: "The Permanent Reality of Campaigning: Strategy I: Positioning"
  • Presentation: CFE2011, "The Conservative Campaign: Becoming the New Natural Governing Party?"

Monday, January 26, 2015

  • WTW, Chapter 4, “How Words That Work Are Created”
  • D&D, Chapter 3, "Party Loyalties"
  • SFV, Chapter 3: "The Bargaining: Market-Tested"
  • WP, Chapter 3: "The Permanent Reality of Campaigning: Strategy II: Triage and Concentration"
  • Presentation: CFE2011, "The Disappearing Liberals: Caught in the Crossfire"

Monday, February 2, 2015

  • WTW, Chapter 5, “Be the Message”
  • D&D, Chapter 5, "Does the Economy Matter?"
  • SFV, Chapter 5: "The Bargaining: The Brand-Wagon"
  • WP, Chapter 5: "The Changing Reality of Campaigning: The Technology of Persuasion"
  • Presentation: CFE2011, "Political Marketing and the NDP's Historic Breakthrough"

Monday, February 9, 2015

  • Luntz, Chapter 6, “Words We Remember”
  • D&D, Chapter 6, "The Issues and the Vote"
  • SFV, Chapter 6: "The Bargaining: and Now, a Word from our Sponsors"
  • WP, Chapter 6: "The Changing Reality of Campaigning: The Importance of Money"
  • Presentation: CFE2011, "Party of One: Elizabeth May's Campaign Breakthrough"

Monday, February 16, 2015


Monday, February 23, 2015

  • WTW, Chapter 7, “Corporate Case Studies”
  • D&D, Chapter 7, "Party Leaders - "The Superstars" of Canadian Politics"
  • SFV, Chapter 7: "Selling the Deal: Market Leader"
  • WP, Chapter 7: "The Changing Reality of Campaigning: The Permanent Campaign"
  • Presentation: CFE201, "Constituency Campaigning in the 2011 Canaidan Federal Election"

Monday, March 2, 2015

  • WTW, Chapter 8, “Political Case Studies”
  • D&D, Chapter 8, "Strategic Considerations"
  • SFV, Chapter 8: "Selling the Deal: Retail Rules"
  • WP, Chapter 8: "The Changing Reality of Campaigning: Going Negative"
  • Presentation: CFE2011, "Polls: Seeing Through a Glass, Darkly"

Monday, March 9, 2015

  • WTW, Chapter 9, “Myths and Realities About Language and People”
  • D&D, Chapter 9, "The Greens and the Perils of Being a "Single-Issue" Party"
  • SFV, Chapter 9: "Selling the Deal: Sliced and Diced"
  • WP, Chapter 9: "Fear and Loathing in Alberta"
  • Presentation: CFE2011, "The Campaign in the Digital Media"

Monday, March 16, 2015

  • WTW, Chapter 10, “What We Really Care About”
  • D&D, Chapter 10, "Electoral Dynamics in Québec"
  • SFV, Chapter 10: "Selling the Deal: This LIttle Party Went to Market"
  • WP, Chapter 10: "Fear and Loathing in Alberta: Applying the Principles"
  • Presentation: CFE2011, "Ideology and Discipline in the Conservative Party of Canada"

Monday, March 23, 2015

  • WTW, Chapter 11, “Personal Language for Personal Scenarios”
  • D&D, Chapter 11, "The Shifting Contours of Canadian Elections"
  • SFV, Chapter 11: "Selling the Deal: Checking Out"
  • WP, Appendix: "The Calgary Centre By-Election: A Clash of Campaign Models"
  • Presentation: CFE2011, "Winner and Losers: "Voters in the 2011 Federal Election"

Monday, March 30, 2015

  • Luntz, Chapter 12, “21 Words and Phrases for the 21st Century”
  • Sorensen, T. "Reflections, Regrets and Reconsiderations"
  • Sorensen, T. "Relationship with JFK" 
  • Group Project Presentations

Monday, April 6, 2015

  • Group Project Presentations
  • Exam Review

Other Course Information:

Books for Review

  • Bricker, D. 2013. The Big Shift: The Seismic Change in Canadian Politics, Business and Culture and What it Means for our Future. Toronto: Harper-Collins.
  • Clark, J. 2013. How We Lead: Canada in a Century of Change. Toronto: Random House.
  • Copland, C. 2014. How to Elect Conservatives in Canada. Washington, D.C.: Conservative Growth Inc.
  • English, J. 2009. Citizen of the World: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau 1919-1968. Toronto: Vintage Canada.
  • English, J. 2010. Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau 1968-2000. Toronto: Vintage Canada.
  • Flanagan, T. 2007. Harper's Team: Behind the Scenes in the Conservative Rise to Power. Montréal-Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press.
  • Goldenberg, E. 2007. The Way it Works: Inside Ottawa. Toronto: Douglas Gibson Books.
  • Green, D. & A. Gerber. 2008. Get Out The Vote: How to Increase Voter Turnout. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.
  • Hébert, C. 2008. French Kiss: Stephen Harper's Blind Date With Québec. Toronto: Vintage Canada.
  • Hébert, C. 2014. The Morning After: The 1995 Quebec Referendum and the Day that Almost Was. Toronto: Vintage Canada.
  • Ignatieff, M. 2013. Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics. Toronto: Random House.
  • Issenberg, S. 2012. The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns. New York: Crown.
  • Jeffrey, B. 2010. Divided Loyalties: The Liberal Party of Canada 1984-2008. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Kanji, M. & A. Bilodeau. 2013. The Canadian Election Studies: Assessing Four Decades of Influence. Vancouver: UBC Press.
  • Kinsella, W. 2007. The War Room: Political Strategies for Businesses, NGOs and Anyone Who Wants to Win. Toronto: Dundurn.
  • Kinsella, W. 2012. Fight the Right: A Manual for Surviving the Coming Conservative Apocalypse. Toronto: Random House Canada.
  • Lakoff, G. 2004. Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and France the Debate. White River Junction, Vt: Chelsea Green Publishing.
  • Lakoff, G. 2009. The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist's Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics. New York: Penguin.
  • Lavigne, B & O. Chow. 2013. Building the Orange Wave: The Inside Story Behind the Historic Rise of Jack Layton and the NDP. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre.
  • Lerhman, R. 2009. The Political Speechwriter's Companion. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
  • Marland, A., T. Giasson, & J. Lees-Marshment. 2012. Political Marketing in Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press.
  • Marland, A., T. Giasson, & T. Small. 2015. Political Communication in Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press.
  • Martin, L. 2011. Harperland: The Politics of Control. Toronto: Penguin.
  • Martin, L. 2003. Iron Man: The Defiant Reign of Jean Chrétien. Toronto: Viking.
  • May, E. 2014. Who We Are. Vancouver: Greystone Books.
  • McLean, J. 2012. Inside the NDP War Room: Competing for Credibility in a Federal Election. Montréal-Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press.
  • Newman, D. 2013. Welcome to the Broadcast. Toronto: Phyllis Bruce Books.
  • Paikin, S. 2013. Paikin and the Premiers: Personal Reflectionson a Half Century of Ontairo Leaders. Toronto: Dundurn.
  • Plouffe, D. 2009. The Audacity to Win. New York: Viking.
  • Saul, J. R. 2009. A Fair Country. Toronto: Penguin.
  • Saul, J. R. 2014. The Comeback. Toronto: Viking Canada.
  • Silver, N. 2012. The Signal and the The Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail, but Some Don't. New York: Penguin Press.
  • Simpson, J. 2001. The Friendly Dictatorship. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.
  • Sorbara, G. 2014. The Battlefield of Ontario Politics: An Autobiography.Toronto: Dundurn.
  • Sorensen, T. 2008. Counsellor: A Life at the Edge of History. New York: Harper.
  • Trudeau, J. 2014. Common Ground. Toronto: Harper-Collins.
  • Wells, P. 2013. The Longer I am Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada. Toronto: Random House.
  • Westen, D. The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation. New York: PublicAffairs.