I met several PR agency leaders at last week’s PRSSA conference in San Diego. Unlike traditional Boomer and GenX agency executives, most of these agency heads were under 22. They represent a growing number of student-run agencies at small and large colleges throughout the country, and other campus agencies are emerging (see next story about Oklahoma’s new agency).
Ball State University’s student-run agency — Cardinal Communications — was the first to work on a fee basis rather than pro bono, and it has an impressive track record of successful, award-winning programs for nonprofits and companies in the Muncie, Indiana area. Hill Communications at Syracuse University is another top-notch student agency that has helped a number of nonprofit organizations with PR programs since its founding in 2001. Agency director Kathleen Hopkins tells me the agency has grown to 45 people this semester.
Western Kentucky’s Imagewest claims to be the nation’s only full service, revenue generating, student-run advertising and public relations agency. Like the others, Imagewest provides hands-on agency experiences that help students develop their skills and enhance their portfolios. Imagewest’s impressive program has been expanded to provide international client experience for several students through its partnership with the International Islamic University Malaysia. Rowan University’s Ad Dynamics also allows students a chance to tackle “real world” advertising accounts for business and public-service clients.
College agency experience builds stronger resumes that future job seekers need in the highly competitive “real world.” Hill’s Kathleen Hopkins understands that point as she explains: “My priority with the firm is to make sure all students, no matter where they are in their PR degree, walk away with several portfolio pieces and real experience that they can talk about on a resume to help them get future internships.”