Student-run advertising agency to partner with clubs, local businesses

Written By Nicole Pampena, Co-News Editor

Public relations and advertising students are developing an in-house advertising agency this semester to benefit university clubs and eventually local businesses.

The agency, christened Bison Media, would serve clubs struggling to promote themselves on campus and operate as a branch of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).

“We want to set the groundwork for the program to be nationally affiliated,” said junior public relations and advertising major and Bison Media Firm Director Morgan McCoy.

According to McCoy, the university had student-run agencies in the past that offered free services to organizations such as Campus Activities Board and Rugby Club. However, the school’s small size led to their disappearance in recent years.

The idea to restart an in-house agency emerged in 2016, largely undertaken by Kristina Pacifico, president of The Advertising Federation (AdFed) and Autumn Barsczowski, president of PRSSA.

“I wanted to be able to work with [Bison Media] if I ever became an executive,” Pacifico said. “During the fall semester, we talked about Bison Media a lot and a lot went into planning.”

In October, McCoy began leading Bison Media as firm director once a small group of interested students assembled to get the agency on its feet. McCoy and Pacifico said there are around ten students involved so far, however a student-run agency can otherwise operate with as few as four.

In operation, the agency would keep in touch with a contact person from each club that communicates the organization’s needs. All services provided within the university would be free.

Those involved with Bison Media want to eventually expand past Point Park by working with small local business and non-profit organizations. McCoy listed City Charter High School and I Made It Market, a pop-up marketplace for local artists, as potential clients.

McCoy said charging a fee to future clients outside of the university is a consideration—one recommended by PRSSA so students can learn to put numbers to their services.

“We’re hoping to go really full-speed ahead this semester… and really make PRSSA have more substance,” McCoy said.

McCoy and Pacifico are projecting to hold Bison Media’s first meeting by the second or third week of classes.

Another hope of Bison Media is to become a nationally affiliated firm through PRSSA by the fall semester. The status would allow students to enter in competitions and awards through PRSSA as well as gain credibility.

According to PRSSA’s website, “there are more than 100 student-run firms around the country operated by PRSSA Chapters” and “only those among the upper echelons are PRSSA Nationally Affiliated.”

Through an application process, the firm must submit materials such as a client list, a case study highlighting some of its best work, a letter from the firm’s adviser and director, and a brief history. If selected, the firm holds the affiliation status for three years, which would eventually require renewal.

Disclosure: Autumn Barsczowski also serves as The Globe’s business manager.