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First student-run communication firm offers skill-building, networking opportunities


The firm’s faculty advisor, Priscilla Tinsley, said the working name for the firm might change from Cougar Communications to something else in the future along with a new logo. | Courtesy of the Jack. J. Valenti School of Communication

Students interested in working for a professional firm handling public relations, business dealings, brand-related initiatives and policy making can rest easy.

At the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, students of all majors can sign up to be a part of Cougar Communications, the first student-run communication firm on campus.

“The idea itself isn’t novel — there are other universities with similar concepts — but we hadn’t tried anything like that and what we are doing is unique and different from others,” said Temple Northup, associate professor and director of the School of Communication.

Northup said the concept for the firm came about to capitalize the students’ talents and let students interact with real clients.

One of the firm’s main goals, Northup said, is to allow students to have a “real-world experience” by handling clients in a rewarding manner so they would share their positive opinion about the firm with others. This would lead to more people getting familiarized with Cougar Communications on a larger scale around the city.

“The long-term goal is to make sure that we are a true, integrated firm and that we represent all of the different areas and disciplines within the Communication school,” said Priscilla Tinsley, the firm’s faculty advisor.

Tinsley said the firm is working on a to-be-revealed permanent name and logo. She said the firm’s dream is to function as an actual agency.

The firm, Tinsley said, will offer worthwhile experience for students who seek work or volunteer programs before graduating.

“There really isn’t anything like this in Texas,” said the firm’s co-founder and public relations senior Natasha Wilson. “A lot of the other firms are strictly PR firms or marketing firms, so the integration was definitely important — it builds credibility for the students and the school.”

Wilson said that she found out about the firm through an email over the summer from the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). She became interested upon discovering the firm was taking applications and that Tinsley was the faculty advisor.

Wilson loved the idea of being a part of something new on campus.

“It puts them so much further ahead of other students,” Tinsley said.

Tinsley said that one of the firm’s most essential aspects is that it lets students actually apply what they learn in class into real-life work. This tremendously enhances their skills and makes them stand out from fellow peers.

“Our agency reflects that reality of today’s marketplace where you need to be able to not just think strategically, but create content for a variety of platforms, and that is something that this group will be able to do,” Northup said.

Northup said that the firm is one way for the students to engage with the community. Some of the clients for the firm will be from the university, but many will be external companies or non-profit organizations.

The firm, which is currently made up of its initial 10 founding members, will start recruiting for next semester.

“There is pride in it,” Wilson said. “To say that you’re part of something like the first ‘integrated’ firm in Texas — there is definitely pride in that.”

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