Fifth Street Communications® was started five years ago in order to create a professional experience for students studying public relations at Anderson University. The firm was recently awarded National Affiliation by PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America).
FSC is Anderson University’s student-staffed public relations firm, created to provide public relations students with professional portfolio pieces prior to graduation. Communication arts majors with a concentration in PR are required to complete practicum hours, and semesters in FSC count toward that requirement. The agency meets weekly, and student teams complete work for a variety of external nonprofit and university clients.
According to the society’s website, PRSSA is defined “a network of more than 11,000 college students interested in public relations and communication.” PRSSA is divided into chapters among schools, one of which is located at AU. The AU PRSSA chapter has around 25 members who attend biweekly meetings. Speakers are brought into the meetings to speak to and network with students.
The PRSSA website states that although “there are more than 100 student-run firms around the country operated by PRSSA Chapters, only those among the upper echelons are PRSSA Nationally Affiliated.” Fifth Street Communications® is now among the upper echelons because of its recent National Affiliation.
Fifth Street Communications® received the affiliation after a grueling application process that included submitting a client list, at least one case study, a letter of support from the faculty advisor, a brief history of the firm, and a letter from the firm’s director.
The firm’s faculty advisor is Rebecca Fuller Beeler, assistant professor of communication and chair of the department of communication arts. To complete the application, Beeler worked with Eva Christine McKnight, 2013 communication arts graduate and student director of Fifth Street Communications® during the 2012-2013 school year. Fuller Beeler also wrote the advisor letter and will be responsible for maintaining affiliation in the firm’s future.
Fuller Beeler has been the advisor of Fifth Street Communications® since it began and plans to develop the firm even further in the next few years to help it sustain its affiliation.
“Changes that will be made include more communication between the firm and the [PRSSA] Chapter on campus, underclassmen volunteerism within the firm and assistance with National Conference funding,” said McKnight. These changes will be important if Fifth Street Communications® is to continue its PRSSA National Affiliation.
In order to receive affiliation and continue it, Fifth Street Communications® had to meet certain standards. These standards include staying connected to PRSA (Public Relations Society of America), being centered around the AU PRSSA chapter, demonstrating a high level of professionalism, and keeping a well-organized structure.
AU Director of University Communications and Community Relations and Development Officer Chris Williams has worked with Fifth Street Communications® for three years. He said that the affiliation will help to add credibility to the firm and speaks to the quality of the program and the students involved with it. “I would encourage any student considering going into communications to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Williams
Williams sees a great amount of professionalism and effectiveness in the work of Fifth Street Communications®, two standards required for PRSSA National Affiliation. “The whole process is very rigorous,” said Williams.
Fifth Street Communications® previously earned a Pinnacle Award from the state PRSA chapter for its work with Williams’ office. The student-staffed firm has proven that it can provide quality work to its clients. Providing this caliber of work was instrumental in the firm’s new affiliation.
“Only 34 student-run firms in the country have obtained this honor, so it shows that we are really in the top tier when it comes to building students’ portfolios and experience,” said McKnight.
Fuller Beeler adds that the affiliation “opens the door for additional clients and networking.” Fifth Street Communications® hopes to continue providing students with meaningful professional opportunities and to grow its client base.
— Anna Rayis is a senior from Columbus, Ohio, majoring in communication arts. Rayis is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.