By Abby Werner
There’s a new organization on campus for students who are interested in learning more about public relations: PR Club.
The new club is the brainchild of Jon Stemmle, professor and strategic communication chair, and is in the beginning stages of development and execution.
“I had this idea for PR Club because I thought it was an extracurricular that the J-School was missing,” Stemmle said. “I presented the concept to students and they really latched on and ran with it.”
The first informational meeting had nearly 50 students from around the Journalism School, from freshmen to graduate students. A goal of the PR Club is to make it as inclusive as possible and give students — both journalism and strategic communication — a view into what public relations is and what’s possible within the profession.
“Journalism and public relations are a natural pairing,” said Stemmle. “Like many PR professionals, I got my start as a reporter and then moved into PR because the skill sets are quite similar. I think today people can move from one to the other and back again so this will give students the chance to get some experience no matter what path they choose.”
After the informational meeting there was a round of applications and interviews, and then an executive board formed. Senior Ben Ramirez was selected for president; junior Maddie Murry for vice president; junior Sophie Walding for treasurer; and senior Claire Tingleaf for secretary.
“I decided to apply for an executive position because I was excited for the potential that PR Club has,” said Walding. “I have a lot of big ideas and I wanted to be a part of the team of people who help shape what PR Club can be.”
The chosen mission of PR Club is “to shape aspiring public relations professionals and support them as they grow into successful individuals who make beneficial differences in our world, school and field.”
To make this happen, PR Club plans to meet every other Thursday, either in-person or by Zoom, with a mix of guest speakers and workshops. Another element in the works is allowing members to create and implement PR campaigns for local nonprofits and other organizations, providing hands-on experiences long before students reach their senior capstone classes.
“We are still figuring everything out, but that is the exciting part,” said Murry. “We want PR Club to be something that everyone enjoys, so we are encouraging feedback from our new members as we plan out the school year. For now, we are remaining flexible.”
On Oct. 28, PR Club had its first guest speaker, Kate Hafner, BJ ’19, who is working for a boutique PR agency in California doing influencer marketing.
“We are fortunate to have a large network of people we can call on and to come talk to students about various niche segments of the PR world,” said Tingleaf. “Kate was amazing. Because influencer marketing is still fairly new, students do not know much about it. But that’s the beauty of PR Club — to help expose students to all of the various opportunities there are out there.”
Ramirez hopes that students who join PR Club find community in it, both through their peers and through the guest speakers PR Club brings in.
“I feel like there aren’t too many people in the J-School who are vocal about wanting to do PR,” said Ramirez. “It’s sometimes a forgotten piece of the strategic communication program, as we often talk more about advertising and design. I see PR Club as an opportunity for students to realize who else is interested in a similar career path.”
Sophomore Elizabeth Dang decided to join PR Club because it was an easy way to learn more about the field before she has a chance to take the JOURN 4256 Public Relations course.
“I came to Mizzou not knowing I wanted to study strategic communication,” said Dang. “But after taking the freshman-level courses that touch on a little bit of everything, I figured out more of what I am interested in. I was excited to see that a PR Club was being created because now I can actually start down that path.”
Students and alumni can learn more about PR Club by following them on Instagram and Twitter: @prclubmizzou. Or they can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated: December 8, 2021