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Student-Run PR Firms Can Benefit Everyone Involved

As students prepare for their transition into the workforce, they are expected to have experience in developing campaigns for clients whether in the classroom or in the field. One thing’s for sure: real-world experience is always better than working with an imaginary client.

As a senior at The University of Alabama, I have had the privilege of working with a real client during campaigns class. Our client is The Alabama Choir School. The school began operating as an all-boys choir in 1985 and developed into a full-service, afterschool choir program designed for students of all ages. The school will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in May at the Moody Music Hall at The University of Alabama. Our campaigns class has been working with The Alabama Choir School to help promote awareness of the celebration as well as the financial condition of the school. Since the school is an afterschool nonprofit program, it has faced many financial challenges throughout the years.

Can organizations actually benefit from the services of student-run PR firms? Why not? We may not have a great deal of experience, but we offer a low-cost alternative to professional PR fees. Most student-run firms charge a fraction of the cost normally charged by professional firms and some only ask to be reimbursed for their expenses. The experience gained can be valuable to both the student and the organization.

Working with nonprofits can be very challenging, mostly because of the lack of available funds. Most of them are struggling just to exist in a slow economy. Founder Karen B. Nicolosi has worked directly with our class to help provide each group with the necessary information to implement our campaigns. With limited funding, our class was able to work hard to develop very creative campaign tactics that will benefit The Alabama Choir School.

We had the chance to work with staff members, students and alumni of the school. The local media accepted our work just as if we were a professional firm, and we gained experience with news media interviews. The Alabama Choir School may celebrate its anniversary with more people than ever due to the efforts of our class. The school also hopes to gain financial support for one student who might otherwise not be able to attend the program. Our goal as a group of senior PR students is to find local businesses interested in helping nonprofits such as The Alabama Choir School.

More organizations should offer PR students these same opportunities so we might gain necessary experience not available in the classroom. When working with real clients, students are forced to provide more accurate data. The hands-on experience provides students with greater opportunities in creating real tactics and the opportunity to evaluate the outcomes of these tactics. The students develop relationships in the community and with local media, an important part of PR development and one of the fundamental experiences PR firms want in a job candidate.

Should organizations use student-run PR firms? They really have nothing to lose. Good publicity is great, but if it costs less than the same publicity received from professional PR firms — that’s even better!

What do you think about student-run PR firms?

by Scott Young


  1. Post comment

    I think that student-run PR firms is a great idea. I would love to have that kind of hands on experience with a real client as opposed to just pretending I am working with a real client. If a client has limited funds I do not see the problem in hiring students. Hiring students to do PR work could benefit both the client and the student. I have not worked with any real clients yet and I would love to have that kind of experience.

  2. Post comment

    As a student at The University of Alabama, I have received the privilege of being apart of a student-run PR project. In the PR writing course, we have been working with Tuscaloosa Arts Council for the past semester. Similar to the after school programs at Alabama Choir School, Tuscaloosa Arts Council is a non-profit that has limited funds for PR and advertising. A student run PR firm seems like the perfect solution for the Arts Council. They would have a very difficult time coming up with the funds for a professional firm. So instead, they get students to do the work. We have provided a situation analysis, new release, video news release, web site analysis and a media kit. Not only has this been a learning experience for the students, it has also provided the Arts Council with new ideas and perspectives.
    At the same time the Arts Council is getting awareness from one of its main key publics, students. Personally, I was unaware of all the events and programs the Arts Council sponsored until this semester. Since then I have been much more interested in the events put on by the Arts Council. After doing a media kit project on Bela Fleck coming to the Bama Theatre, I persuaded a few friends to come see the inspirational artist. A little can go a long way in some situations. I believe that the Arts Council will benefit from its semester with our class. Not only have we provided the work necessary for public relations, but we have also created long term relationships with the Arts Council


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