The highlight of my week was an engaging Skype conversation Thursday afternoon with University of Oklahoma students who were attending the annual Leadership Academy for one of the best student-run agencies in the U.S., Lindsey + Asp.
Several universities have student agencies, and more are expected to hang up shingles this fall. OU’s PR faculty adviser Bob “Pritch” Pritchard knows what he’s doing since he served in the same role at another outstanding on-campus agency, Cardinal Communications at Ball State University.
Lindsey + Asp’s impressive roster of clients include American Airlines, Ft. Sill Fires Center of Excellence, Oklahoma Insurance Department, Norman Police Department and the Oklahoma Scholar-Leader Enrichment Program. And almost all accounts are billable, not pro-bono. According to Pritch, the agency made a small profit in its first year and has tripled revenue over the past three years.
During the Q&A session, OU students asked a broad range of excellent questions, including:
Q. Does a semester abroad add or subtract anything to a resume?
A. If you have a chance to study abroad, take it. Such experiences jump off your resume. But while in another country, be sure to check out agencies and communication organizations there. Insights from your experience will demonstrate your sincere interest in the profession, not just appear that you wanted to travel.
Q. What are the advantages of going to grad school right away or should I wait?
A. Although I’m involved with the grad program at DePaul and would love to have you enroll in it, I urge everyone to spend at least a year or two working before enrolling in a graduate program. During your work experience, you’ll get a better idea of your longer-term career interests and goals.
Q. Name three skills necessary in PR today and one emerging skill that we need to have.
A. The tried and true skills remain the same–writing is the most important skill that continues to be ignored by far too many students and practitioners. Next is listening–really take in what you hear, followed by teamwork. As far an emerging skill, focus on those that business most cares about today. It’s important to be aware of new trends, but don’t spin your wheels trying to promote something that no one cares about yet. There is a lot of ground yet to be plowed with leading social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It’s cool to know about the others, but move to them as they grow in relevance.