The communications department added a new course to its lineup fall semester. The course is so popular that the number of students enrolled has increased from seventeen to fifty over one semester.
The course, the Wolverine Public Relations Firm, is a student-run PR firm which allows students to obtain practical knowledge and working experience of public relations by working with real clients.
“It’s basically a non-threatening internship because I am holding their hand the entire time,” said PR 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.”
The firm is set up like a working public relations firm. It includes a president, Vice President of Internal Relations, Vice President of External Relations, eight account executives and one advisor.
Walton said that the firm is currently doing work for non-profit clients. However, next semester they will start working with commercial clients.
This semester, the number of non-profit clients has increased from five to eight. These include the Boys and Girls Club, Community Health Connect, the American Red Cross, UVU Interfaith Student Association, UVU Public Relations Club, UVU Rodeo club, and Centro Hispano (a division of the United Way.)
The students in the PR firm plan events, write press releases, and work one-on-one with their clients to come up with a working plan for the semester.
Firm president Stephen Cann said “I’ve learned what public relations really entails, you really can’t learn public relations from a book, you can learn the basics, but you can’t really learn it until you participate firsthand and apply the knowledge.”
Erin Donahoe-Rankin, academic advisor for the communications program said that the course can be repeated for up to six credit hours towards graduation and that it can also be used as an upper division elective for the program.
“The class requires students to meet outside of class and to also with clients,” said Walton. “It probably takes six to eight hours a week, so there is a time commitment.”
In addition to Walton’s credential as an adjunct instructor at UVU, she also owns the Walton Group, a local public relations firm and also taught as an adjunct faculty member at Brigham Young University for fourteen years.
Walton said that while teaching at BYU, she was also involved with their student-run public relations firm.
“In the past, at BYU, we have done national accounts such as a Jell-O campaign, we did Krispy Kreme when they came to town, and a lot of big accounts,” said Walton. “So, that is the future of the PR firm.”