Listening to audiences, engaging younger users and creating brand cohesion — these were goals UGA journalism majors accomplished during the launch of our innovation teams and fellowship programs.
These Journalism Innovation Teams and Fellows, based out of the Journalism Innovation Lab of the Cox Institute, create industry partnerships to bring emerging ideas and practices into Georgia news organizations by allowing select students to work at a precise and strategic level on innovation in today’s newsrooms.
Georgia Association of Broadcasters Innovation Fellow
Funded by the GAB, our innovation fellow worked with Habersham Broadcasting. This locally owned and operated set of two radio stations — My Country 99.3 and 107.7 the Breeze — serves a large audience in northeast Georgia, and its leadership wanted to begin to reach a younger demographic through its digital products. UGA journalism major Ashley Balsavias worked with Habersham to grow and engage younger listeners through the My Country 99.3 Instagram page, creating strategies for that platform, cross-promoting to the station’s app, and creating a best practices guide for future use.
Georgia Association of Broadcasters Innovation Team
A team of journalism majors — Victoria Gospodinov, Lily Baldwin and Haley Roberson — worked with Salem Media Group of Atlanta for our GAB-funded innovation team. Operating on the goals of increasing engagement and growing audience demographics, the team did audience research, created a robust brand style guide to improve digital product coherence, and crafted a forward-thinking content strategy for influencers, concepts and campaigns to continue diverse growth in both listeners and digital platforms.
UX Research Innovation Team with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The success of the Unapologetically ATL email newsletter, a product of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was the focus of study for a UX research innovation team made up of journalism seniors Maddy Franklin, Ally Gray, Nimra Ahmad and Yana Obiekwe. Through analytics, quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews with audience members, the team found what specific elements were contributing to the newletter’s strong performance, so that these could be employed with other digital products. Also, a few future recommendations for growth were presented to capitalize on what audiences prefer in the niche news product.
From September 2021 to April 2022, a cohort of eight juniors and seniors from four local high schools participated in an immersive internship program with Talking Dog, Grady College’s in-house, full-service, student-led public relations and advertising agency.
Each intern was placed on a team consisting of six to eight Grady Talking Dog students assigned to a national or local client. The interns were also individually paired with a Grady student mentor who helped guide them throughout the process.
“Talking Dog gives students an inside look into what working in an agency is like,” said Valentina Drake, the interns relations director at Talking Dog.
In addition to being on client teams, each intern was also assigned to one of Talking Dog’s departments, which include copywriting, art, public relations, digital media, production and research and strategy.
Throughout the seven-month program, interns grew their skill sets and had the opportunity to network at regular department meetings, agency-wide meetings, client meetings and intern-only meetings, which often included lectures from guest speakers.
“Being an intern showed me that I am capable of having a career in advertising and public relations, which I never would have thought possible before,” said Sydney Elrod, a productions intern from Athens Academy.
“I worked with real-world clients to create advertisements that made an impact on the client and their target market and audience, so it was very fun to see the ideas the team and I made come to life,” added Sophia Beasley, a copywriting intern from Oconee County High School.
While designed to introduce students to life working for an AdPR agency, The internship is not only for those set on pursuing such careers. It provides valuable professional development and networking opportunities that are applicable to students no matter the path they choose.
“Even if I do not pursue a career in public relations or advertising, I will be more comfortable with any workplace I go into in the future and more familiar with how that experience will look and feel,” said Erin Wyatt, a public relations intern from Clarke Central High School.
Yerahm Hong, a research and strategy intern from North Oconee High School, added: “As the year progressed, I was able to make very good friendships and long-lasting connections. It really felt like a family! It was also very inspiring to be working alongside such high-achieving individuals.”
Echoing the interns’ overall sentiment, Kathryn Nichols, an art intern from Athens Academy, said: “I am so grateful for this experience, and it will be incredibly beneficial for my future endeavors.”
Now three years old, the Talking Dog internship has grown significantly since its start in 2019. At that point, the program had a total of two interns from one local high school, Athens Academy, dedicated to two client teams.
In 2020, despite having to go virtual due to the pandemic, the program grew to include a total of seven students and welcomed two new high schools, North Oconee High School and Oconee County High School. This year’s program, which was open to students from five local high schools, was the biggest yet, and it will only continue to grow.
“Our goal is to continue our outreach and increase participation from these schools to provide invaluable experiences for students interested in advertising and public relations,” said Missy Hill, program manager for Grady’s AdPR Department. “Working with local area high school administrators to collaborate on community outreach and experiential learning opportunities has been invaluable. The support from them has been overwhelming.”
“This is an outreach program that we are really proud of,” added Bryan Reber, head of the AdPR Department. “I’m really grateful to Missy Hill for initiating this three years ago and to the Talking Dog student intern directors who do such a great job integrating the high school students into the Talking Dog Agency.”
The high school administrators Hill has worked with to make the program happen include the late Jean Bennett, a former school counselor at Oconee County High School, Christy Conley, a school counselor at North Oconee High School, Wesley Mellina, the workforce development coordinator for the Clarke County School District, and Brian Olsen, the dean of student life at Athens Academy.
“We loved the experience that our students had access to over the past few years and are looking forward to participating in the years to come,” said Conley.
“We are pleased to help recruit CCSD students from programs that connect with this opportunity, including our students studying marketing, A/V film technology, journalism and graphic design,” added Mellina.
Additional interns not quoted above include Andrew Cash, a public relations intern from Oconee County High School, Alexandra Navas, an art intern from Clarke Central High School, and Kyla Scott, a digital media intern from North Oconee High School.
Eating your way through local seafood cuisine along the Georgia coast may sound like a dream come true, but for a group of Grady College students, it was another day working on a class project.
The five students are in this semester’s New Media capstone class, which challenges students to build new media solutions that address specific client problems, explore and implement emerging technologies, or both. Cierra Cordak, Hunter Lanius, Sam Perez, Tallie Pietragallo and Carson Reynolds are creating a brand to promote local seafood within the state.
Along with the Weatherford and the NMI’s Chris Gerlach, the team traveled to six coastal counties to curate content that will be distributed across the brand’s social media platforms. The pictures and videos will also be shared with the local restaurant owners featured for their own marketing and promotional use.
“There’s a sense that we’re not just highlighting Georgia businesses, but Georgia people and communities,” fourth year marketing major Hunter Lanius said. “It’s a lot more sentimental than what you might expect from a food and travel-promoting brand.”
The group took over 1,700 photos and 600 videos over the course of three days including pictures of the food, restaurant interiors and exteriors, drone shots and interview segments.
Leading up to the trip, the team spent time developing a brand. They created social media accounts, designed a logo, strategized about branding guidelines, conducted user research and began connecting with local seafood restaurants in the coastal region.
Applying classroom lessons beyond NMI
Fourth year advertising major Tallie Pietragallo utilized skills she has learned in other classes and throughout internships to develop relationships with clients before the group embarked on the trip. For her, the client-racing role was “a really rewarding and exciting experience.”
“I kept in touch with the owners of six local restaurants across the coast of Georgia and learned more about their stories and the connection they have to the local community,” Pietragallo said. “Being in Grady helped make the connection from the owners stories to their restaurant and brand and lead to brand storytelling though our social accounts.”
Third year advertising major Cierra Cordak is the Project Lead and is heading up the team’s website development.
“Getting to take what I’ve learned in a classroom and use it to create something that looks like websites I actually visit, and not just another project, that will be live online for people to discover and use has been so exciting,” she said. “It has definitely developed my skills in that area beyond what they were before working on Georgia Seafood On My Mind.”
The team started in Camden County at Captain Seagle’s Restaurant and Saloon. They toured the attached hotel Riverview Hotel, which was built in 1916. Seagle’s is the oldest continually operating restaurant and bar in St. Mary’s, and the team got a chance to sit down with server Neal Schroeder to learn about the restaurant’s recipe for success.
“It’s hard to beat when you get the food right off the boat,” he said. “You’re not getting some of that store-bought seafood from the freezer or that was prepared a long time ago.”
While they had developed a course of action ahead of time, the students got to learn on the spot and strategize how best to capture the content. Multiple members of the team took turns capturing pictures of the seafood while fourth year journalism major Carson Reynolds focused on videography.
“It was super cool to work on this project from a video planning viewpoint, especially with the budget and the gear we were able to use. We had professional level gear like lights, reflectors, and microphones, which made shooting feel very easy while also being impressive and professional for the person being interviewed,” Reynolds said. “The multiple camera and sound setup was great to use and made editing really easy. Overall, from the video and editing side of things, this was one of the most planned-out and professionally shot projects I’ve ever worked on and taught me a lot about working with different equipment and editing from different sources.”
Next, the group headed to St. Simons Island where they visited Georgia Sea Grill.
On day two of their adventure, the students drove to The Fish Dock in Townsend, Georgia.
Next up on the itinerary was Sunbury Crab Company in Liberty County. The team tried their hand at cracking open blue steamed crabs and heard from co-owner Elaine Maley who touted the freshness of the restaurant’s all-natural ingredients.
“We get the shrimp, they’re local, and they’re never been dipped, so they don’t have chemicals on them,” she said. “A lot of people that say they usually couldn’t eat shrimp can eat ours. We gather our own oysters and we have have our own crab lines.”
For the final leg on their second day, the team drove to Fish Tales at Fort McAllister Marina in Bryan County.
Collin Russell started as general manager at the restaurant just a few months ago. In his time there, he’s seen how the local community rallies around Fish Tales. In fact, he says he sees most of the guests “anywhere from four to seven times a week.” What keeps them coming back? According to Russell, it’s all about the seafood caught just a few feet away.
“I mean, it’s just a fresh taste,” he said. “A lot of our customers and stuff will tell you the difference between our seafood and you know, seafood that’s north and south of here, is that the shrimp – you can taste how fresh it is. I mean that is always what people say about here: how sweet our Georgia shrimp is and that’s what we love bringing it to people.”
To conclude their three-day trip, the students stopped in Savannah where they met up with Robyn Quattlebaum, the proprietor of Driftaway Cafe before heading back to Athens.
Preparing for SLAM
Now, the team is combing through the content, editing pictures and videos, communicating with the restaurant owners to deliver the material and fine-tuning the brand’s social media. All of this preparation comes ahead of SLAM, an end-of-semester showcase that celebrates student projects and certificate recipients. On May 7, industry guests and NMI alumni from near and far will attend the day of showcasing, networking, reminiscing and interviewing job-seeking certificate students.
Editor’s Note: This feature was written by Sam Perez, a 2022 Yarbrough Fellow in the Grady College Department of Communication and member of the Georgia Seafood On My Mind team.
Two-hundred fifty high school journalists and teachers from around the state learned about ways they can put purpose at the center of their media programs during the Georgia Scholastic Press Association‘s Spring Awards ceremony April 11, 2022, at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education.
Keynote speaker Keysha Lee (ABJ ’97), an award-winning show host and filmmaker, businesswoman and author, delivered the inspiring message. She defined purpose as “a sense that the work you’re doing is deeply needed.”
Lee challenged scholastic journalism advisers to create a classroom environment where purpose is at the center of what is produced and created. She also outlined why it is important for student journalists to create a feeling among their staff and peers that student media has a bigger meaning. “You have to get everyone on board for that purpose-driven press,” she said. “Everyone has to buy in.”
Lee ranks as a Top 100 bestselling author on Amazon with her first book “Keysha Lee Presents Filmmaking 101.” Clayton County Library System offers her book in its collection to patrons at all seven of its branches. Her book also serves as the official text for Kansas City Public School’s Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts.
As a business owner, Lee leads her own media company, Leeway Productions. She stands out in the industry as the youngest black-owned business to gain a partnership with Fulton Films in Georgia. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Telecommunication Arts from Grady College and a Master’s in Education from Alabama State University. She currently serves on Grady College’s Alumni Board.
More than 300 hundred high school journalists and teachers across the state gathered at the University of Georgia’s Tate Student Center on Feb.10 for the Georgia Scholastic Press Association’s Winter Conference. After several years apart, attendees celebrated being “Back Together,” a theme suggested by GSPA Ambassador Anna Rachwalski of Midtown High School.
Professionals, faculty, staff, high school media advisers, and college and high school journalists led more than 40 sessions on important scholastic journalism topics. They covered graphics, social media, student press freedoms, sports journalism, visual journalism, writing and many other subjects.
“In addition to providing informative sessions, the conference also served as an opportunity to network and form connections,” GSPA Student Ambassador Jordan Tovin reflected in an essay about the event. Tovin currently serves as photo editor for Woodward Academy’s Phoenix yearbook. “Because the conference attracted students from all across Georgia, I spoke with editors and writers from Atlanta to Athens—discussing how to manage staff and the type of pieces that we publish. The conference provided a chance to see how I can improve the publications on which I work.”
Grady College faculty and staff instructors included: Amanda Bright, Dodie Cantrell-Bickley (MFA ’17), Dean Charles Davis (MA ’92), Carlo Finlay, Marcella Genut (AB ’18), Keith Herndon (ABJ ’82), Mark Johnson, Lori Johnston (MFA ’17), Kim Landrum, Kyser Lough, Samantha Meyer (ABJ ’13, MA ’14), Vicki Michaelis, Brittney Minor, Jonathan Peters, Sabriya Rice, Ralitsa Vassileva, Joe Watson and Dayne Young (ABJ ’11). Alumni Joe Dennis (MA ’07, PhD ’16), Allison Floyd (ABJ ’97, MA ‘19), Charlotte Norsworthy (AB ’19, MA ’20) and Lauren Patrick (ABJ ’07) also taught classes.
Throughout the day, staff and college students led tours of the Journalism building and Newsource, giving conference attendees a glimpse of what it is like to work in a real newsroom and what it means to be a Grady student.
Students and teachers left the event buzzing with excitement and looking forward to GSPA’s Spring Workshop and Awards on April 11 at the UGA Georgia Center.
The Georgia Scholastic Press Association, housed within Grady College, was organized in 1928 to promote the understanding and practice of journalism. GSPA’s goal is to enhance middle school and high school broadcast, literary magazine, newspaper, news magazine, news website and yearbook programs by providing networking and skill development opportunities.
Rick Dunn excitedly turns to a group of nearly 15 Athens-Clarke County students at the conclusion of a short introductory film about Grady College narrated by college Dean Charles Davis.
“Dean Davis is a Clarke Central grad,” Dunn says with pride in his voice.
The message delivered by Dunn and emphasized throughout the students’ visit to the University of Georgia campus on Oct. 6 was clear: Education that begins at Clarke County schools can flourish into more possibilities and opportunities at the University of Georgia.
Dunn, who earned a journalism degree from UGA in 1993, is CEO and executive producer of MEU Radio Athens, a program he created in 2017. The program introduces radio and broadcasting skills to fifth- to 12th-grade students and encourages them to graduate from high school.
“I would like to help them navigate through hard times into a life that is much more productive,” Dunn said.
Dunn’s students produce programming for an internet radio station including podcasts and sports broadcasts, as well as projects like school announcements. Dunn estimates about 70% of the alumni from his program graduate from college with a degree in mass communications.
Students experience UGA
After meeting with Alison McCullick, director of community relations at the university, Dunn and McCullick got an idea. The pair connected with Stephanie Moreno, the scholastic outreach coordinator at Grady College, and Josh Podvin, assistant director for community partnerships with UGA Public Service and Outreach, to plan a tour for CCSD students. The students’ visit to UGA would include talks from current students, alumni and professionals in the journalism and broadcasting fields and explore the importance of higher education and career possibilities.
Alexia Ridley, an anchor for WUGA radio, spoke to the students during the campus experience. She began her talk by saying she was familiar with the students’ work with MEU Radio, and they were already ahead of where she was when she attended college.
“I can’t believe that you guys do what you do … it’s really good,” said Ridley. “College will enhance what you already have.”
Students from WUOG radio and freelance podcasters Dayne Young and Kim Landrum also spoke about broadcasting, while Helen Mahaney provided an overview of the college.
Cemya Stone, a freshman at Clarke Central and audio engineer for MEU, was inspired after hearing from UGA students like DonA Traylor-Askew, a fourth-year journalism major. Traylor-Askew, who is also earning a certificate from the Carmical Sports Media Institute, talked about her experience managing social media accounts for some of Clarke Central’s sports teams last fall. She also shared about her involvement in producing “The First Five,” a documentary about the first Black UGA football players, three of whom are Clarke Central alumni.
“It was really fulfilling to hear from students giving us their perspective,” Stone said. “They aren’t too much older than we are, and we are going to be there in a few years. If they can do it, we can do it, too. We just need a little bit of insight.”
Makenna Mincey, a junior from Clarke Central who is considering a career in communications, said she had never been to Grady College.
“I think the biggest lesson I learned is to appreciate the opportunity that I have been given,” Mincey said. “It also taught me that if I want to go to the next level, I need to continue to build and grow.”
A collaborative effort
The University of Georgia participates in more than 50 partnerships with Clarke County schools, and Dunn wants to expand those opportunities. Over the past few months, he has worked with David Hazinski, a Grady College professor emeritus, to design a small television studio where his students can broadcast news shows. Dunn left the visit with several new ideas and a faculty introduction to Carlo Finlay, who he connected with about potential partnerships between Grady College students and CCSD students.
Tours like this one give students perspective and teach them to focus, according to Tymisha Creightney, a sixth-grade teacher at Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School who also serves on the MEU board.
Creightney said the tour was beneficial to many of Dunn’s students who have not seen the university from an academic perspective.
“The thing I appreciated the most about today is that it showed our kids that people who look like them are in this capacity and what they are doing is working,” Creightney said. “Our students who are interested in journalism saw that they could get there.”
The tour concluded with lunch at Bolton Dining Commons, providing the students a chance to mingle with college students.
“I like that UGA is [in] the heart of Athens and that they have partnered with us,” Creightney concluded. “Even if the students don’t attend UGA, they get a taste of what college is like beyond just football. I want to thank the University of Georgia for looking out for our kids and being leaders in the community.”
While many public relations campaigns classes focus on creating programs for corporate or non-profit clients, Dr. Karen Russell’s course this semester tackled a much larger topic: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the public relations industry.
“Like many people, I was pretty appalled at the responses I was seeing as the result of the social unrest last summer,” Russell explained. “I felt like public relations was part of the problem with inadequate responses from companies and celebrities.”
She knew as public relations professionals, they couldn’t sit back and do nothing, so she challenged her students to focus on changing structures to raise awareness and address solutions.
The students worked with dozens of PR professionals and organizations including the Diversity Action Alliance, PR Council, Institute for Public Relations, Arthur W. Page Center at Penn State, National Black Public Relations Society and the Museum of Public Relations.
During initial research, the students found that there is a general lack of knowledge about public relations among young diverse students, and those who were aware of the field found barriers to entry.
To address the issues, the students set out to tackle three goals:
Establish DEI as a core value
Foster a culture of allyship
Increase industry accessibility
They produced videos, infographics, toolkits, a podcast and sponsored a webinar, Religion in Public Relations, with the Museum of Public Relations featuring a panel discussion on religion in PR.
“One of the most fulfilling parts of this course and campaign was the chance we were given to implement tactics that were not only of immediate importance, but which also may contribute to long-term impact and success in the industry,” said Eilis Sullivan, a fourth-year public relations and women’s studies student. “Almost all of the resources we developed this semester are accessible online, so it’s rewarding to know there’s unlimited potential in the work we’ve done.”
Classmate Laura Burr, a fourth-year public relations student who is also studying fashion merchandising and Spanish, added that the impact is deeper than just recognizing the importance of hiring people from all backgrounds.
“Many only know about public relations because they have a family member in the industry, meaning industry members are a cycle of people from similar backgrounds,” Burr said. “Additionally, the PR industry hasn’t done a great job of offering paid internships, and unpaid internships are likely only a viable option for students from well-off families that can financially support them during their internship. There are changes that have to be made in and outside of the industry in order to create effective change.”
The students also hosted a panel discussion, ‘Moving the Needle: Making DEI a core value within PR’ panel, with the Diversity Action Alliance. During the session, panelist Krystle Cobran urged PR practitioners to change the narrative and reshape the way we deliver our messages, suggesting “stories stick, lectures don’t.”
Sullivan continued: “This campaign has helped me tremendously to better understand my responsibility as a PR practitioner, which is to tell stories that not only suit my clients, but which reflect and represent the larger world around me – including the uncomfortable or unspoken.”
In addition to the accomplishments of the Campaigns class, the Department of Advertising and Public Relations co-sponsors the annual AdPR Academy, a week-long program for diverse students from HBCUs and other higher-education institutions to introduce them to the fields of advertising and public relations.
The deadline for student applications has been extended to Nov. 8, 2020.
Grady College and the Georgia Press Education Foundation have joined forces for Grady Digital Natives, a new and innovative program that connects college students and Georgia news organizations. The online Grady Digital Natives program will connect UGA journalism students with digital news expertise with Georgia newsrooms to help local journalists accomplish specific digital goals.
The digital transition continues to be challenging for community journalism for reasons ranging from funding to time to expertise. Grady Digital Natives will help bridge this gap by allowing digitally savvy journalism majors to assist with a digital task like optimizing social media, creating digital content on various platforms or experimenting with new technologies. Another potential goal could help with audience engagement and Trusting News concepts.
“Through the Digital Natives program, these college students will bring their skills into our community newspapers to help advance the paper’s presence in the ever changing digital world,” GPA Executive Director Robin Rhodes said. “GPA is grateful for Dean Davis bringing forth this amazing program to our members.”
Due to COVID-19, students for 2020-2021 will not be on site at news organizations, but they will create and present a webinar that will introduce a digital tool or process to meet one targeted goal for the news organization. The webinar will move step-by-step through the philosophy, technology and process, and it will show how journalists in the newsroom can enhance as well as sustain this new opportunity. This will be accompanied with a written report and a follow-up Zoom conference to address any questions.
The program is expected to launch in January 2021.
The director of Grady Digital Natives, Amanda Bright, is a faculty member at Grady College and will train the students before they start their week within Georgia newsrooms.
“This program is going to be mutually beneficial for students and local newsrooms,” Bright said. “Whether it’s starting an email newsletter, diving into Facebook groups, telling stories through web-based interactives or creating a codified social media strategy, Georgia news organizations will tangibly benefit, while our students will gain the knowledge and experience from those doing the important work of journalism each day.”
The Scripps Howard Foundation has awarded a grant to the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership for a poverty reporting initiative.
The grant of $7,500 will fund the Cox Institute’s plans to use reporting on poverty as the topic for its student projects in the Fall 2020 Journalism Innovation Lab.
“The coverage of poverty and underserved communities touches communities and news organizations across the country. This program can provide students with meaningful experiences, lead to excellent journalism, and serve as a model and resource,” said Dr. Battinto L. Batts Jr., the director of journalism strategies with the Scripps Howard Foundation.
Keith Herndon, director of the Cox Institute, explained the funding from the Scripps Howard Foundation provides a new path for continuing a Covering Poverty online initiative that began more than a decade ago.
The work to update content, create original new content and relaunch the Covering Poverty resources will be done by a team of six journalism students under the direction of Lori Johnston, a lecturer in the Department of Journalism.
“I look forward to this tremendous opportunity to engage motivated, creative and talented journalism students who will explore innovative multimedia approaches, newsgathering techniques and storytelling on a meaningful real-world project,” Johnston said. “With the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 election and social issues, there has never been a better time to equip journalists to report about underserved communities.”
The students will be selected for the Journalism Innovation Lab through faculty nominations early in the Fall semester. The selected students will receive Cox Innovation Fellowship scholarships for their participation in the program.
The original Covering Poverty project launched as a website in 2009. It was created with a grant awarded in 2008 by the University of Georgia Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, sponsored by the UGA Research Foundation. John Greenman, professor of journalism, emeritus, and Diane Murray, director of alumni relations and outreach, directed the program. Upon Greenman’s retirement in 2015, Murray continued to direct the program. Carolyn Crist (ABJ 09, MA ’14) started with the project as an undergraduate honors student and later was administrator of the website.
Since its inception, Covering Poverty provided reporting resources to more than 500 journalists annually who were covering poverty and related stories for news media organizations ranging from local newspapers to network television.
“We are very appreciative of the Scripps Howard Foundation for recognizing the importance of this resource and for providing the funds needed to continue it in a meaningful way,” Herndon said. “We are eager for our talented students under Lori Johnston’s leadership to once again provide this resource for our industry peers.”
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.
“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.