Student-run advertising agency
A student-run advertising agency acts like a real advertising agency, but is operated by students. The agency can be included in the academic curriculum, allowing students to work in the agency for academic credit. Or, the agency can simply be housed within the academic unit, allowing students to work in the agency for volunteer experience. In other cases, the agency can operate as a student club within the broader organizational structure of the university. The student-run agency provides advertising and similar communications services to various organizations such as college departments, small businesses, and community-based non-profit organizations. Some agencies compete with professionals and charge for services. Other agencies do all their work without charge. Other agencies have a philanthropic focus whereby communications work is conducted for free for nonprofits, while for-profit entities are asked to make a charitable donation to the agency to support its learner-centered focus.
As is the case with communications agencies in the real world, student-run agencies typically offer a variety of support to clients, including public relations, marketing, promotions, and social media support. The main appeal of a student-run advertising agency for clients is that the agency can provide professional-quality work at no cost or very small cost. The primary appeal for students is that they gain real-world experience unlike anything that can result from a traditional classroom experience. Students working in this environment have to mentor each other. Students learn to engage in "reverse mentoring" whereby they typically have more experience and knowledge of communication than their clients - so they must educate the clients. In all agency environments, development of time management and team work skills is essential. Students must collaborate to produce work that satisfies the client and the agency supervisor (typically a faculty member). The work must be academically appropriate and professionally relevant. This balance of responsibilities and oversight makes the student-run agency an ideal learning experience and preparation for the professional workplace.
Swanson, D. J. (2014, October 11). Assessing public relations student learning and performance in ‘real world’ client campaigns and projects. Research Roundtable Pedagogical Poster Session, Educators Academy, Public Relations Society of America International Conference, Washington, DC. http://works.bepress.com/dswanson/72
Hays, B. A, & Swanson, D. J. (2012). Public relations practitioners’ use of reverse mentoring in the development of powerful professional relationships. PRism, The Online Journal of Public Relations, 9. (n.p.) http://www.prismjournal.org/fileadmin/9_2/Hays_Swanson.pdf
Swanson, D. J. (2011). The student-run public relations firm in an undergraduate program: Reaching learning and professional development goals through ‘real world’ experience. Public Relations Review, 37, 5, 499-505. Available at: http://works.bepress.com/dswanson/38/
Swanson, D. J. (2008). Training future PR practitioners and serving the community through a “learn by doing” undergraduate university curriculum. Public Relations Quarterly, 52(3), 15-20. Available at: http://works.bepress.com/dswanson/51/