Grand Valley’s chapter has about 30 active members, 10 of whom are also dues-paying members in the national PRSSA organization. Starting a student-run firm is a recommended practice by national PRSSA, and has been encouraged each year by the adviser Timothy Penning, an associate professor in Grand Valley’s School of Communications.
“The credit really goes to the students, who took the initiative this year to get it off and running,” said Penning. “I advise them, but the group is student-run. They elect officers each year, and various members take on roles and responsibilities.”
According to the chapter president Charlotte Sasinowski, the idea of a student-run firm was initially discussed during a PRSSA promotions committee meeting in 2006.
“I wanted to take our promotions committee to the next level by creating a student-run firm and found information on the National PRSSA Web site on how to make this possible,” said Sasinowski. “I believe establishing a student-run firm on campus will open many opportunities for students and clients.”
Currently, Grand PR is working with four clients, with more in the pipeline. They are also in the process of applying to be nationally affiliated with PRSSA. This affiliation will offer more credibility to the firm, as well as national recognition.
“The students are reaching out and making connections with professional firms,” said Penning. “We also hope to invite our colleagues in other School of Communications majors, such as film/video, photography, journalism and broadcasting, to participate in the firm because they may also have technical skills that would help serve creative needs of clients.”
The members of Grand PR expect to continually gain members, and in turn gain more clients. They would like to eventually have office space, in a similar way to other student organizations such as the student newspaper.
“I am very excited to see Grand PR succeed because I know we are capable of doing so,” said Sasinowski. “We have many talented and skilled members that can offer quality work to our clients.”