Student public relations firm: a real class with real clients

The Communications Department added a new course to their lineup this semester; the course is so popular that the department increased the number of students from 30 to 50.

The course, the Student Public Relations Firm, is a student-run P.R. firm that allows students to obtain practical knowledge and working experience of public relations by working with real clients.

“It’s basically a not-threatening internship because I am holding their hand the entire time,” said P.R. Firm Advisor, Linda Walton. “You don’t have to go anywhere, it isn’t expensive, like going to New York for example, you can do it right here.”

Walton added that this semester the Firm has done work for non-profit clients. However, next semester they will start working with commercial clients.

This semester, the five non-profit clients included The Boys and Girls Club, Community Health Connect, the American Red Cross, and the on-campus Interfaith Student Association and Public Relations Club.

P.R. Firm Vice President Marriott Murdock said that this past semester, the class was split into five groups to work on each account. Each group consisted of an Account Executive and account members.

Account Executive Steven Low added that there is also a Vice President and President in the Firm who are voted by the class and that in addition to this, Walton leads the students and guides them through any problems they encounter.

“It’s more than just writing assignments and turning them in for a grade,” said Account Executive Justin Nixon. “In this class you actually have to send out your own writing assignments, schedule events, and try your best to publicize it so others will come to what you have planned.”

Firm President Stephen Cann said, “I’ve learned what public relations really entails. You really can’t learn P.R. from a book. You can learn the basics, but you can’t really learn it until you participate firsthand and apply the knowledge.”

Murdock, who also worked on the Community Health Connect account, said that the class setting feels somewhat like a staff meeting.

“Linda conducts, gives a topic and skill to implement for the week, and then we break off into our work-teams,” he added. “It is a very practical approach to learning, where if you can’t directly apply the principle to actual P.R. work, then we won’t waste our time on it.”

In addition to Walton’s credential as an adjunct instructor at UVU, she owns the Walton Group, a local public relations firm and also taught as an adjunct faculty member at BYU for 14 years.

Erin Donahoe-Rankin, Academic Advisor for the Communications program, said that the course can be repeated for up to six credit hours toward graduation and that it can also be used as an upper division elective for the program.

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