Students get hands-on training while providing unique value for an array of clients.
On February 24, 2015,The Agency at the University of Florida was established to provide advertising and public relations students opportunities to learn their craft in a teaching hospital-type environment with seasoned professionals as their mentors.
The concept, envisioned by Diane McFarlin, the Dean of the College of Journalism and Communications, and legions of donors, advisors, faculty and staff, was to establish an agency that would become self-sustaining by offering valuable services to marketers and brands. Surrounded by a Team of Millennials on a campus with 50,000 of them, we made understanding this segment of the population our singular focus.
Last year we launched MAVY™, a virtual community of over 1,000 Millennials, who participate in fun and engaging research including, BuzzFeed-like quizzes, discussion forums and mobile missions. MAVY is becoming a research tool valued by big brands including P&G, McDonald’s and BBVA Compass. And it is a tool trusted and utilized by Grey, one of the world’s largest advertising agencies, for clients, including Best Buy and Smucker’s.
The Agency also services clients including: the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Experiencias Xcaret, an ecotourism destination in Mexico; the Florida Departments of Citrus and Transportation; Infinite Energy; Warren Henry Auto Group; and several UF-related accounts such as the College of Medicine; Departments of Interior Design and Continuing Education; International Center; Physical Plant Division and the Alumni Association.
The Agency’s business model is unique — led by professionals, staffed by students and inspired by faculty — ensuring continuity in its offering and building a bridge between the classroom and the front lines of the industry
The professional staff has grown to five who oversee 100 student Team members. A 12-person Advisory Panel of faculty and staff meets regularly to provide guidance and inspiration. Cross-campus inroads with Computer Science, Fine Arts and Business majors, attract the diverse skill-sets needed for a multidisciplinary agency to thrive.
With a focus on preparing students for the workplace, we recently launched The 100 Project, an initiative to ensure The Agency’s amazing Team members get equally amazing jobs when they graduate. A database of Human Resource contacts is being developed to enable ongoing communications with advertising and public relations employers across the country. Recently The Agency took 19 students to New York to visit 15 agencies in three days. Similar trips are planned for Orlando and Atlanta. And a page is being added to The Agency website that will promote graduating seniors, with biographies and links to their LinkedIn pages and portfolios.
While we’ve come a long way in a short time, our job is far from done. In the coming months and years we will use past successes to propel future wins, expanding thought leadership and awareness, adding to The Agency’s client base and generating the additional revenues needed to become fully self-sustaining.