AdPR Academy continues to grow in 7th year

The seventh annual AdPR Academy happened in Atlanta from Oct. 25 through Oct. 29. (Photo: Wes Stanfield)

AdPR Academy continues to grow in 7th year

November 15, 2023

In late October, a diverse group of 30 students from colleges and universities across the Southeast gathered in Atlanta for just under a week of training to advance their skills and knowledge in the fields of advertising and public relations. It was the seventh annual Myra Blackmon AdPR Academy for Diversity and Inclusion, and this year, the academy expanded its geographic reach through partner institutions and increased sponsor engagement.

AdPR Academy is an educational outreach program designed to amplify the power of diversity, equity and inclusion while growing the pipeline of diverse advertising and public relations professionals. The program gives students the power to network with leading brands, build their peer networks, receive professional training, coaching and mentoring, and prepare themselves for rewarding careers.

A student meets with a professional for a speed advice session.
Students met with professionals one-on-one for speed advice sessions. (Photo: Wes Stanfield)

“AdPR Academy sits at the nexus of collaboration between three key stakeholders: higher education, talented students and business,” said DeShele Taylor, director of AdPR Academy. “At the heart of the academy’s mission is to ensure incredible, diverse young professionals are exposed and connected to opportunities and relationships that will help propel their careers in advertising and public relations. Our tremendous growth in university and corporate partnerships has been instrumental in helping us certify 159 students since 2017. AdPR Academy is a game-changer, and we salute every volunteer that takes the time to invest in each cohort’s future.” 

This year’s academy, which happened Oct. 25 through Oct. 29 at the campus of Fitzco, Weber Shandwick and Momentum, educated students from 10 partner institutions, five of which are Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The full list of institutions includes Agnes Scott College, Albany State University, Clemson University, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), Georgia State University, Hampton University, Howard University, North Carolina A&T State University, the University of Georgia and the University of South Carolina. This was Hampton’s and NC A&T’s first year partnering with AdPR Academy.

Over the course of the program, participating students had the opportunity to listen and learn from more than 75 corporate or professional volunteers working in the advertising and public relations industries at a wide range of companies, including everything from Fitzco to Hilton to Mailchimp to Porter Novelli to Turner Sports and many others. Evan Levy, the president of Fitzco, provided inspiring words to the cohort at the opening ceremony. Brandon Rochon, the executive vice president head of creative for Hothouse, was the culmination lunch keynote speaker.

Dr. Juan Meng hands out certificates to graduates.
At the closing ceremony, Dr. Juan Meng, Head of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, handed students their certificates. (Photo: Wes Stanfield)

“This year’s speakers demonstrate how communication professionals and leaders are not only sharing their expertise and knowledge about the industry but setting their commitment across different sectors to advance DEI and nurture the next generation of diverse leaders,” said Dr. Juan Meng, UGA Athletic Association Endowed Professor and Head of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. “Their presence, support and engagement ensures the success of the AdPR Academy.”

Through the program’s speakers and activities, as well as one-on-one connections with industry professionals, students were given interviewing and networking advice, introduced to the daily lives and work responsibilities of those working in the advertising and public relations industries, shown some of the tools and platforms that professionals are using and more.

“AdPR Academy was such a fun and insightful experience,” said Joyce Bell, a student attendee from the University of Georgia and aspiring public relations professional. “It was a pleasure being in a room filled with diverse students from different universities. Being able to incorporate my ideas in the rebranding of an organization gave me a glimpse of what the public relations industry will be like. I am overly thankful to Grady College for allowing me to be a part of such an amazing program.”

Author: Jackson Schroeder,