Dwight Bentel & Hall Communications
(An On-campus Communications Agency)
Because the communications industry is changing and becoming more closely integrated, the School of Journalism and Mass Communications wanted to take the learning and organization experience to the next level and to continue to provide learning with a practical application. We partly converged the advertising and public relations curriculum by developing an Advertising and Public Relations Student Agency.
All of our Advertising and Public Relations professors met and gave input and talked about what a student agency would look like. Students were then recruited from among our 500+ students. It was decided that the course would meet four days a week at the same time each day for one college class period which is 75 minutes in length. In addition, the student agency class would be a two- semester class and would substitute for both the Advertising and Public Relations Campaigns requirements and the mandatory internship required by the School.
This was the first class in the JMC curriculum that converged both majors in one class. Both a classroom and agency offices have been dedicated to the effort.
We both felt that the students should be the best and the brightest in both the Advertising and Public Relations degree programs and that these students should have most of their major requirements already completed. An application process was decided upon. It was felt that the students should apply for the agency much like they would apply for a job in a real advertising and public relations agency. Each student was asked to submit a letter stating why they wanted to be in the student agency and a resume/creative book showcasing their experience, strengths and interests.
Dwight Bentel and Hall, was originally funded by a small grant given by a professional benefactor who believed that the integration of communications was now in fact being realized in the professional world. These monies provided start-up costs and operations. Though cost to clients is minimal, each client is asked during initial meetings to possibly make a donation. Some do but the faculty decides if the client is appropriate for a learning experience even if no contribution is provided. All expenditures such as media or printing are passed along to the clients at no mark-up.
In late 2014 a facility housing the agency was created so that staff and teams have meeting and working areas to conduct projects and meetings with clients. Actual operations including production, trafficking, strategic documentation and advertising, public relations and internet projects. Utilizing a new web based software, (Infowit) designed for real world agency/client operations given to the school, gives the students project management skills. Cision, a media listing software also given to the school, provides listings of all media and product categories. The students have to learn how to access and use the software while at the same time being required and reminded, to utilize it on a daily basis to communicate both internal and externally. The production team, responsible for all agency materials had to create a list of suppliers that bids could be obtained from when printed materials were needed. At the same time those tasked with public relations/media planning/buying had to also create a database of potential media organizations. While doing so they were also planning media campaigns for all of the clients whether it involved public relations or advertising. This database is constantly updated and refreshed as each year’s new teams come in.
The agency has also been instrumental in cross department/school programs working with RTVF, Engineering/Packaging, Music, Nutrition and the University Communications Office.
Current clients and competitions include Santa Clara Valley Wine Association, Guigielmo Winery, Bateman PR Competition, NSAC (National Student Advertising Competition – AAF – Pizza Hut), Vines OS, a start –up incubator in Sunnyvale, Velo - electric bicycles, Spuler Sumposium, The Salsburg Institute, San Jose Downtown Association and numerous others. Some clients require fully integrated communications plans others are project oriented. Most all of the clients have stayed with the agency from year to year even with new student transitions each year. Clients are chosen by the managing directors (Professors Tim Hendrick and Christine DiSalvo) for the experience they will bring to the student staff and some are able to provide funding while some do not