Student-run Firms Provide Real-Life Experience – For Real!

Approximately one-third of all PRSSA Chapters have student-run firms; their popularity and recognition has drastically increased. National Affiliation and Student-run Firm Awards are just two of the ways that PRSSA recognizes and rewards involved students.

Aria Fadakar, former director of Titan PR Group at California State University — Fullerton, shared the firm’s experience and influence on a branding campaign. A restaurant near campus called Cantina Lounge has helped the PRSSA CSUF Chapter in many ways and Titan PR Group wanted to return the favor.

Through a semester-long campaign, TPRG developed the image of “Thursday Night College Night” at Cantina Lounge, Club 101. They helped the restaurant/club draw 400 to 600 guests each Thursday and as much as $13,000 in one night.

In addition, FOX 11 hosts the “OC Hotlist” which ranked Cantina Lounge as the Number One Mexican Restaurant in Orange County. Fadakar shared some of the challenges and successes that Titan PR Group met along the way.

  • Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge was finding dedicated, hard-working firm members to focus on this project. In the end, process of elimination helped show which staff members were really dedicated. Once they formed a group to focus on the campaign, they were able to truly enhance the brand and image of the restaurant and nightclub.
  • Methods for Success: Initially, Titan focused on finding key influencers on campus to encourage people to promote in Cantina Lounge’s new image. They also used social media as primary methods for sharing the information. Eventually, word of mouth took over and everyone now knows that if they are looking for a place to hang out that is affordable and has a good vibe, Cantina Lounge is the place to go. Titan PR Group altered the club’s demographic focus to ages 18 and up to provide a place for the younger college crowd generally left out of clubs in Orange County. They collaborated with the club to create more menu items and develop a $5 menu to appeal to money-conscious college students.
  • Tracking results: One of the most important parts of any campaign is measuring the results. During Titan PR Group’s on-campus event to publicize Club 101, they gave out opening night tickets to anyone who visited the booth. This helped the firm track how many people attended from CSUF.
  • Lessons Learned: The most important tip that Titan PR Group can share from this experience is regarding media pitches. Although many classes teach that the pitch should give all of the important details at once, the firm found that this isn’t always the best approach. Many media professionals are reading this information on their cell phones, meaning that too much text will seem overwhelming and be overlooked. Fadakar recommends using just a few paragraphs and letting the person know that much more information is available.

Student-run firms provide this kind of real-life experience for hundreds of PRSSA members. Are you a member of a student-run firm? What kind of projects has your firm worked on? What challenges and lessons were learned?

This is a guest post from Vice President of Professional Development Therese Kuster.

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