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Course Description


University Core Module for All SMU Students

Management Communication (COMM 101)

Management Communication equips students with strategies that will enable them to successfully communicate their solutions to organizational problems. Since the course emphasizes the importance of effective written and spoken communication within a business setting, students will be exposed to strategies that will enable them to communicate their ideas and values in a clear, persuasive and memorable way. Students will, therefore, learn the art of producing impactful business documents and delivering engaging presentations in various business contexts.  By the end of the course, students will be able to function as proficient communicators who are ready to embrace the communicative challenges inherent in today’s dynamic business environment.

Corporate Communication Major's Compulsory Module

Foundations in Corporate Communication (COMM 102)

COMM102 is the core course of the corporate communication major. It lays the foundations for managing corporate communication and external relations and connects all other electives via a common structure and understanding. In this course, students examine communicative practices in the corporate environment, including internal communication, reputation and image management, crisis communication, public relations, corporate social responsibility, and new communication technologies. Through discussions of corporate communication theories, case studies, and practical applications, this course introduces students to the perspective that the organization is the sum of its stakeholder perceptions and relationships. Students with a corporate communication major are thus enabled to choose a focus for their curriculum and/or career.


Corporate Communication Major's Elective Modules

Intercultural Communication (COMM 120)

The course provides strategies on how to read a person's culture. Features of culture such as individualism/collectivism, power distance, masculinity/femininity, and issues related to intercultural adaptation, ethnocentrism, prejudice, stereotyping will be discussed. The aim of this course is to develop intercultural competence, which will make business practices more meaningful and significant.



Media relations remains an “important” and “tactical function” (Shaw & White, 2004, p. 494) of corporate communications. In media relations, practitioners seek favorable publicity for the organization’s products and services (Sallot, Steinfatt & Salwen, 1998; Seitel, 2004; Sinaga & Wu, 2007; Yoon 2005) often through information subsidy (Supa & Zoch, 2009) to “enhance the reputation of an organisation” (Bland, Theaker, & Wragg, 2005, p. 55). With the proliferation of diverse media platforms, engaging both online and traditional media remains a challenge. How, then, do practitioners practise media relations? This course adopts Pang’s (2010) Mediating the Media model meant to equip practitioners to conduct media relations in a systematic manner with the primary objective of winning the journalists over by the knowledge of their work and their profession.



Public relations (PR) is fundamentally about developing and maintaining mutually-beneficial relationships with the organisation’s stakeholders, mainly through written communication.  This course provides a comprehensive overview of the principles of effective PR writing, focusing on different writing approaches and styles required for specific situations, audiences, communication objectives, message content, and media.



Steve Jobs, a master at pitching, once said, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” Successful pitching, whether to investors, superiors, or other decision makers, involves a healthy mix of “crazy belief”, confidence and risk-taking. For this reason, pitching can be both incredibly terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

Understanding the fundamentals as well as the mechanics of pitching will take you far towards successfully pitching your ideas. And there’s nothing like good, old-fashioned practice with plenty of feedback from peers and experts to help you hone your pitching skills. In this course, we will explore the fundamentals and mechanics of effective pitches and put into practice everything we are learning week by week towards becoming successful pitchers.

While many people think of pitching as only useful for those who need to raise money (for example, a start-up pitch), pitching is actually an essential skill for reaching agreement on almost any subject. Agreement can yield many outcomes: management buy-in for developing a product or service, closing a sale, securing a partnership, recruiting an employee, securing an investment, and even securing employment for yourself.

Nancy Duarte, a communication specialist, put it this way: “Companies are started, products are launched, climate systems are saved – possibly based on the quality of presentations. Likewise, ideas, endeavours, and even careers can be cut short due to ineffective communication.” In this course, you will be given a good foundation for successful pitching so that no worthy idea or endeavour of yours will fall short simply because it wasn’t effectively conveyed.


Crisis Management and Communication (COMM 246)

Organizations are, literally, experiencing and battling crises of some form or other every day. This can be internal crises like organizational miscommunication, personality clashes; to external crises, for instance, arising from policy mismanagement to terrorism. Due to the vulnerability of the organization to both internal and external uncertainties, no organization is immune from crises.

While organizations recognize the probability of the occurrence of crises, studies have shown that many do not have any preparation or plan to deal with them. Some do not find it necessary to take preventive measures; others simply do not know where to begin, and what to do. Indeed, strategic crisis management is a multifaceted discipline that involves components from issues management, crisis communication and management, conflict recovery and resolution.

This course aims to equip students with the necessary skills and abilities to prepare for organizational crises, diagnose the nature of the crises, how to communicate during crises, and how to recover and learn from crises. The emphasis, thus, is on the preventive, rather than reactive, aspects of crisis management.

Scholars agree that crisis management is a dynamic, ongoing process, through a life cycle. Students will be taken through each step of the life cycle of a crisis, with the aim of helping them learn what they need to do at each phase. While many scholars have posited different frameworks, for this course, Wilcox, Cameron and Reber’s (2015) proactive-strategic-reactive-recovery framework is adopted because of its emphasis on the preventive aspects.

It is a useful course for those who wish to be equipped with knowledge for their work in public relations, consultancy, management, law, strategic communication, and public administration; or for those who wish to embark on research in these areas. 



This course will familiarize students with the principles and craft of storytelling for brands and organizations. Using the methods of studio pedagogy familiar to artists and designers, it will expose students to storytelling frameworks and processes and demonstrate their power to express identity and strategy. Students will learn what it takes to craft authentic, engaging stories that inspire by being responsive to their audiences.



What makes people notice certain commercials or news and not others? How can media content be catchy, convincing, and contagious? When addressing such questions in organizational settings, communications managers often rely on what they know from executive experience and/or conventional wisdom, executing a number of communication strategies aiming at having a desired impact. This course will show how strategies that may hold intuitive appeal can be challenged and better informed by psychological principles underlying human judgment and decision-making. Students will learn the key psychological principles about how people process information in a given context and how to assess the conditions under which intended and/or unintended consequences arise. The learning, in turn, can be transformed to exert a competitive edge by identifying contributing and constraining factors of strategic communication to make an impact.



This course will familiarize students with the principles and craft of storytelling for brands and organizations. Using the methods of studio pedagogy familiar to artists and designers, it will hone students’ story creation skills through opportunities to practice the craft in collaboration with others, and through their involvement in a major real-life client project. Students will learn what it takes to craft authentic, engaging stories that inspire by being responsive to their audiences.



This course helps students fulfil a key employment requirement of the communication industry: the ability to strategically and at high speed develop communication campaigns that support the competitiveness, the reputation, the market access and the licence to operate of their organization. In a bootcamp with actual clients, participants train their problem solving skills, communicative foresight, planning skills and creativity.

Students are provided with the tools to devise communication and public relations campaigns in international and/or complex environments. We will then practice on a single issue or product. After the term break, the course continues as a competitive pitch for up to 3 major clients. Students will finish the course with the ability to co-create strategically relevant and competitive campaigns. Getting there will mean preparing, presenting and evaluating public relations and communication during a coached, iterative and competitive process with regular, tough and insightful feedback.



This course examines how communication managers use social media for various types of business communication, such as stakeholder engagement, reputation management, and crisis response. It shows how social media shapes, the way people and organizations interact, and how it impacts business environments and organizational reputations in modern society. By introducing key topics and issues related to social media and the current business environment, this course shows how effective social media strategy  can help an organization achieve its objectives.



Investor Relations introduces students to the essentials of effective Investor Relations (IR).

IR is a strategic management responsibility that integrates communication, finance, marketing and regulatory compliance to enable effective two-way communication between a listed company, the financial community, and other stakeholders (adopted by the NIRI Board of Directors, March 2003.)  

A paradox appears to exist in that, on the one hand, companies are competing for business and need to be sensitive to competitive threats and giving too much information away to the market. On the other hand, companies are competing for capital and need to attract and meet the needs of the investment community.

Students will learn to appreciate how a listed company can successfully communicate with the global investment community; including key stakeholders such as institutional shareholders, retail shareholders, sell-side analysts and financial media.  The course will touch on the factors which determine a company’s investment case and how a company communicates with its stakeholders through its life cycle; from Pre-IPO to IPO, and Post-IPO (including fund raising and M&A). Case studies will primarily cover companies listed on SGX, KLSE, Nasdaq and LSE.

(Disclaimer: Please note that the course listing is not exhaustive and may vary from term to term. Do write in to the Academic Advisor for more information.)

Last updated on 26 Mar 2018 .