2022 in Review: Service & Partnerships

Editor’s Note: This is part of our six-part series highlighting stories produced by Grady College in 2022. The features include stories in each of the following subjects:

  • Student Successes
  • Faculty Honors
  • College Headlines
  • Research & Expertise
  • Service & Partnerships
  • Alumni Spotlight

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but instead highlight a sample of just a few of the hundreds of stories about accomplishments by our students, faculty/staff and alumni. We invite you to visit our Grady College News page for a full list of features posted in 2022.

  • Grady College was named one of the nation's first four solutions journalism hubs
    Grady College was named one of the nation's first four solutions journalism hubs

Service and outreach, often through partnerships with organizations and other units at the University of Georgia, are pillars of what we do at Grady College. Adding to our long list, the following are a few examples of how Grady College expanded our service and outreach efforts in 2022: 

Grady College was named one of the nation’s first four solutions journalism hubs: In early August, The Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) named Grady one of the nation’s four inaugural solutions journalism hubs. This announcement designated Grady as a leader in the field and tasked the College with continuing to advance research and practice of solutions journalism, which is focused on rigorously reporting on responses to social problems, and function as a resource for students and professionals in the field. In an interview with the Grady Research Radio podcast, Grady College faculty members and solutions journalism scholars Dr. Amanda Bright, Dr. Kyser Lough, and Ralitsa Vassileva further explained what the designation means.

The Cox Center welcomed groups of foreign journalists: This year, the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research welcomed more than 20 early-to-mid-career journalists from the country Georgia to Grady College to take classes in the area of digital media. Only a few months later, the center hosted seven career journalists from Sri Lanka at the College, where they spent the day touring facilities and taking classes on digital media and journalism in the United States. And in November, 17 international journalists from countries around the world, including Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, just to name several, visited Grady College through the Murrow Fellows program. 

AdPR Academy was revamped and renamed: The six-year-old educational outreach program, AdPR Academy, was revamped and renamed the Myra Blackmon AdPR Academy for Diversity and Inclusion, following a generous gift from long-time communications professional and former Grady College public relations instructor Myra Blackmon. The Academy is designed to amplify the power of diversity, equity and inclusion while growing the pipeline of diverse advertising and public relations professionals. Over the course of four days, students in the program receive over 35 hours of training and mentoring by experts working in the advertising and public relations industries, participate in daily networking opportunities with corporate executives and agency professionals, and compete in teams representing real-life clients.

AdPR Academy renamed, revamped after gift from Myra Blackmon

Quote card that reads " “For communications professionals to be truly effective, they have to reflect their varied audiences. A visceral understanding of our diverse audiences requires constant commitment. I am proud to be able to support such an effort through the college that has been such an important part of my life since 1969!”AdPR Academy of Grady College’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations has changed its name to the Myra Blackmon AdPR Academy for Diversity and Inclusion.

The six-year-old educational outreach program is designed to amplify the power of diversity, equity and inclusion while growing the pipeline of diverse advertising and public relations professionals. This year’s Academy will happen in Atlanta from Nov. 9-13. 

Myra Blackmon (ABJ ’72, M.Ed ’08) has enjoyed a long and varied career in industry and nonprofit organizations. For many years, she owned M. Blackmon Public Relations in Athens, serving a diverse clientele in finance, food products, health care, public affairs and fundraising. She and her husband, the late Dr. Thomas P. Holland, consulted internationally on management and governance of nonprofit organizations. Blackmon also taught public relations courses in Grady College’s AdPR Department for several years. 

“For communications professionals to be truly effective, they have to reflect their varied audiences,” said Blackmon. “A visceral understanding of our diverse audiences requires constant commitment. I am proud to be able to support such an effort through the college that has been such an important part of my life since 1969!”

Students in the Academy receive over 35 hours of training and mentoring by experts working in the advertising and public relations industries, participate in daily networking opportunities with corporate executives and agency professionals, and compete in teams representing real-life clients for cash prizes. 

“We truly appreciate Myra’s generosity,” said Dr. Juan Meng, Head of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. “Her commitment in advancing diversity and inclusion plays a huge role in supporting the success of this program.” 

This year, Grady College invited partner institutions Albany State University, Clemson University, Georgia State University, Florida A&M University, Howard University, Kennesaw State University, Tuskegee University and the University of South Carolina to hand-select cohorts of their own students to participate in the program. Interested students not attending one of the partner institutions were invited to apply directly.

Myra Blackmon teaching a class at Grady College.
Myra Blackmon teaching at Grady College. (Photo: Sarah Freeman)

“It’s really about creating and amplifying the importance of diversity and building a pipeline with a particular focus on students of color,” said DeShele Taylor, Director of the Myra Blackmon AdPR Academy for Diversity and Inclusion. “We’ve really seen a nice rippling effect of the benefits of this program. Everyone who has gone through this program has said that they feel they have a clear pathway forward.”

 Over its history, the program has graduated 99 students from 21 U.S. colleges and universities. Many of the program’s alumni have stayed in the fields of advertising and public relations, working for agencies, corporations or nonprofits. Several have gone on to pursue advanced degrees before launching their careers. 

In years past, the AdPR Academy happened in the spring. This year, however, the program will run in the fall, giving students the opportunity to put the experience on their resumes before submitting applications to competitive summer internships and jobs.

“The Department of Modern Languages, Communication, and Philosophy at Tuskegee University is excited to have our Communication majors as part of AdPR Academy,” said Dr. Adaku T. Ankumah, chair of the aforementioned department. “The goal of advancing diversity is in line with the University’s mission of being a center of diversity and its strategic goals for the next five years. In addition, we seek strategic partnerships that will provide our students with hands-on experiences, so they are ready for the job market. We look forward to the opportunities that will open for them from this collaboration.”

Mira Lowe, Dean of the School of Journalism & Graphic Communications at Florida A&M University, added: “We are excited to work with AdPR Academy at the University of Georgia in helping to close the diversity gap in the advertising and public relations industries. Our partnership will open new doors to our PR students seeking career opportunities and connections in various professional networks. This collaboration with UGA enables us to expand the professional development of our students in a consequential way.”

AdPR Academy Celebrates Fifth Year with Virtual Academy

The Department of Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication completed the fifth annual AdPR Academy’s on May 16-20. The Academy’s mission is to amplify the power of diversity, equity and inclusion while growing the pipeline of diverse advertising and public relations professionals. To date, the Academy has graduated 95 students from 21 universities to grow the pipeline of talented and diverse leaders for these industries.

Students from Albany State University, Augsburg University, Cal State Polytechnic University Pomona, Howard University, Middle Georgia State University, Tuskegee University, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of South Carolina, and University of West Georgia attended this year.  They devoted five days and 30 hours to this first-ever online AdPR Academy.

“Thank you to Moxie, Solange M. Claudio, See.Spark.Go and Brittany Thoms (ABJ ‘04), for their sponsorship of the program. Moxie has made this diversity initiative possible from the beginning,” said Bryan Reber, Department Head, Advertising and Public Relations at UGA. “Students heard from and met dozens of professionals from across the country to learn more about the advertising and public relations professions and opportunities.  They ended their week by presenting a capstone campaign project created for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce”, Reber said..

“It was inspiring to me to be surrounded by leaders in the communications industry as well as future leaders in the form of my peers,” said University of Florida Senior, Elgin Watts II. “Surrounding myself with professionals who look like me and come from similar backgrounds was great. Having peers in the cohort from all over the United States including Georgia, Illinois and California has helped me expand my peer network. A special thank you to the Parents Leadership Council that made this certificate program possible with their generous support,” said Watts.

For this special anniversary year, the University of Georgia’s Parents Leadership Council provided a grant to help support students and funding for the Academy.

Some of the professional organizations and their leadership who contributed to the week’s curriculum include: BBDO, Black Entertainment Television (BET), Creative Circus, Corning Incorporated, Delta Airlines, Fiserv, Georgia Pacific, LEVICK, Luckie & Co., McDonald’s, Morehouse College, Porter Novelli, Randstad, See.Spark.Go, SKDK, Sloane & Company, Unum and UPS. These partnerships are made possible through the leadership of the Academy’s director, DeShele Taylor. “The dedication of our incredible sponsors and volunteers elevates the Academy as a premiere training and development program for future leaders in advertising and public relations. We are so proud of our alumni and watch with anticipation for all they will accomplish in the years to come.”

“AdPR Academy has been one of the most enriching experiences I have had outside the classroom,” said UGA First Year MA of Journalism student, Dariel Stanford. “The pandemic really complicated the ability to meet and connect with people who share similar interests to my own. However, AdPR Academy gave me just that opportunity. Sharing a space with other like-minded students and industry professionals helped broaden my view to the career opportunities available in the advertising and public relations fields. Dedicating the week to investing in my professional growth was hands down the best decision I could have made for myself,” Stanford said.

Learn more about AdPR Academy and its mission at: adpracademy.uga.edu

Fourth annual AdPR Academy connects diverse students from nine universities

Students from Albany State University, Clark Atlanta University, Clayton State University, Fort Valley State University, Kennesaw State University, Morehouse College, Tuskegee University, and the Universities of Georgia and South Carolina spent their spring breaks getting job ready.  The Department of Advertising and Public Relations in The University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication held its fourth annual AdPR Academy from March 9-13 at Moxie in Atlanta, Georgia. The week-long certificate program included nearly 30 students, of all backgrounds, from these nine universities. The AdPR Academy program includes more than 35 hours of training from experts and professionals in the advertising and public relations industries, including skills-based classes, participation in a capstone project and daily networking sessions with corporate executives and agency professionals.

Grady College students participated in and served as organizational interns for AdPR Academy. (photo: Wesley Stanfield Photography)

“The 2020 cohort represents a significant achievement in both the number of participants and representation from five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs),” said Academy Director DeShele Taylor. “The Academy continues to carve meaningful pathways for diverse students to understand the potential of career opportunities in advertising and PR, and serves as a best in class model for similar initiatives.”

The annual program launched in 2016, to educate and link diverse students to opportunities in the advertising and public relations industries. Every year the program directors work hard to ensure inclusivity of all voices, ideas, and perspectives. By the end of the week, participants strengthened their industry knowledge, professional skills, network of professional contacts and were celebrated with a certificate of completion from Grady College.

“AdPR Academy was one of the best investments I’ve made in myself. It gave me the confidence I needed to become a game-changer in the industry and a sense of direction in where the industry can take me,” said Simone Amos, a communications major from Tuskegee University.

Each day students had the opportunity to participate in workshops and panels led by executives from both agencies and corporations. Representatives from organizations such as Porter Novelli, Nebo, Coca-Cola, 22Squared, Home Depot and other highly regarded organizations shared their professional journeys and advice. This gave students invaluable knowledge in the speakers’ fields of expertise and insight on how to be an intentional and empathic communicator. The students had their resumes reviewed by AdPR professionals and completed and analyzed a personal strengths assessment to inspire action plans for their career. The professional training served as a resource for students and a base of knowledge to create a real-world digital campaign for this year’s client, Georgia-Pacific.

On top of daily networking opportunities, the Academy also included a career night when students had the chance to have one-on-one conversations with various professionals. This set a space for these leaders to give guidance on how to not only maximize experiences but also students’ resumes and LinkedIn as marketing tools. Participants also were split into groups and dined with communications staffers from Porter Novelli, Home Depot, or Georgia Pacific. In the informal setting, students were able to be more personable with professionals and gain insight on what it’s really like to work in these fields.

The 2020 AdPR Academy major supporter and Academy founder was Moxie. This year’s other sponsors were PHD, Home Depot, Georgia Pacific and Creative Circus. Students or potential sponsors can learn more at https://adpracademy.uga.edu.


Annual AdPR Academy provides students and industry professionals connection through diversity initiative

Learn more about AdPR Academy at adpracademy.uga.edu.

Editor’s Note: While many students were spending their spring break relaxing, Destiny McClain, a marketing major from Terry College, and Jharell Ybarra, an advertising major from Grady College, were participating in AdPR Academy along with 15 other students, many from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. This is the second year for The Academy, a program created by our Department of Advertising and Public Relations.

 The program was an enlightening experience for many of the participants.

 “The AdPR Academy was absolutely one of the best opportunities of my entire college experience,” Deidra Shores, a student from Clark Atlanta University, said. “I was able to not only get real world insight about so many different aspects of communications, but I was able to picture myself in the world of PR after being educated by the Academy. I’m more confident in my abilities as a result of the Academy.”

 J’Lesa Wilson, a student from Albany State agreed: “The academy was an experience like no other that offers amazing insight into the advertising and public relations industry. As a PR student, the networking connections I established during the week are essential to further my professional development.”

 AdPR Executive Advisory Board member DeShele D. Taylor was the director of AdPR Academy.

 This program is supported in part by the President’s Venture Fund through the generous gifts of the University of Georgia Partners and other donors. The founders of the program are Erwin Creates and Moxie. Other sponsors included Coca-Cola, The Creative Circus, Golin, The Home Depot, Luckie, PHD, Porter Novelli and Publicis Health.

Below, is a first-hand account of the week-long program written by McClain.

Destiny McClain
Destiny McClain

The AdPR Academy is a program designed for juniors and seniors of diverse backgrounds attending a variety of Georgia schools and institutions in surrounding states. In addition to the University of Georgia, a few of the participating colleges and universities include Spelman, Clark Atlanta, Albany State, Emory, and the University of South Carolina. The purpose of the program is to help students build a strong network and gain exposure to professional opportunities in Public Relations and Advertising.

As a digital marketing major, my interest in the AdPR Academy was based on a desire to gain new insight into the communications field. I was eager to learn more about the intersection of marketing, advertising, and PR directly from industry professionals. I was also excited for the opportunity to interact with students from other universities who share similar interests.

Over the course of the week I had the opportunity to meet representatives from several agencies including Jackson Spalding, SSW, Golin, 22 Squared, PHD, Definition 6, Nebo, Porter Novelli and Moxie. We also met with a few larger corporations such as Coca-Cola, Georgia Pacific, Turner and Home Depot. Over a six-day span, I connected with nearly 100 professionals through workshops, panels and office visits.

Sacrificing my final college spring break was not an easy decision. After the first three days, I was thanking myself for choosing to participate in this wonderful program. Every day I learned something valuable. I strengthened my knowledge related to media planning and the creative process and enhanced my ability to develop strategies by mapping out the customer journey. Each presenter left me with valuable nuggets to apply in a variety of marketing situations.

Company representatives also discussed a variety of topics that can help advance diversity and inclusion. Topics included the importance of employee resource groups and how to incorporate your sense of belonging into your criteria for selecting an employer. We also focused on mentorship and breaking down barriers for those to come.

Thank you to all the sponsoring companies, as well as to Grady College, for initiating the conversation about diversity, inclusion and belonging in the workplace, and for investing in our career development. I would also like to express sincere appreciation to Moxie for welcoming us into their amazing office. Because of my participation in AdPR Academy, I have gained clarity regarding my career trajectory and long-term goals related to my personal brand.

This was truly an amazing experience. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.

Following @adpracademy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

My Grady Story: Na’im Carlyle

Na’im Carlyle, a senior advertising major who is also pursing a New Media Certificate, shares about his experience as an intern for the inaugural AdPR Academy, a six-day boot camp held earlier this month that was designed to give students a crash course in advertising and public relations.

When I first heard about the premise of AdPR Academy and its mission to expose ethnically diverse students to the fields of advertising and public relations, I knew I wanted to get involved in any way that I could. While most of my classmates were traveling, and enjoying their break from school, I decided to forgo my weeklong break and spend time learning from and interacting with advertising and public relation professionals.

The program brought together 23 students from UGA and Historically Black Colleges (HBCUs), including Albany State, Savannah State and Florida A&M. Students spent the week learning about the day-to-day activities of AdPR professionals. Speakers included professionals such as The Richards Group, Porter Novelli, the Creative Circus and Moxie.

Students were given the opportunity to learn about a variety of different roles in the AdPR fields including targeting, strategy, research, and the creative process. They were also given the opportunity to practice interviews, résumé critiques, and network with industry professionals through mixers that were hosted throughout the week.

In conjunction with the knowledge the students were gaining from interacting with the professionals, they were also tasked with creating a campaign to be presented after the program.  Each team worked long and hard to apply everything that they had learned and apply it to their campaign brief.

Being an intern, I had the pleasure of getting to assist each team throughout its campaign execution. It was amazing to see how fast the teams could concept their ideas and flush out a full-fledged campaign from strategy, targeting, creative executions and analysis. Watching them work through their creative briefs made me realize how excited I am about entering the advertising industry to work with a diverse group of people who have unique perspectives to bring to the table.

All of their hard work was rewarded as they presented their campaigns on the final day of the program for a panel of judges consisting of speakers from the week. During the closing luncheon, students heard from Sean Reardon, CEO of Moxie, as he expressed his excitement for the success of the program and why it is crucial to increase diversity within the industry.

I caught up with Orlando Pimentel, senior advertising major at UGA, to hear what he thought of the week. “This week was an enriching experience to me,” he said. “The courses gave me insight in not only how advertising currently works in the field, but reminded me how each segment is crucial in building an effective campaign. Furthermore, it was invigorating to see how helpful and supportive the professionals were to us. I can definitely say the Academy was a life-changing experience.”

Tom Reichert, AdPR department head, added: “It was an amazing week! It was very fulfilling to see students from across the state and Florida learn more about AdPR and get connected with professionals. One of the most fulfilling moments was watching students discover where they fit in the profession. That was great.”

I’m thankful for the opportunity to have made 23 new friends who all share my passion and excitement for the Advertising and Public Relations field. Getting the opportunity to interact with AdPR professionals makes me proud of the direction the industry is moving toward. I look forward to contributing my own diversity of thought to the industry in my future career.