Prime Time for PRIMA

June 16, 2019

It’s 6:30 p.m. The account manager and creative director are finalizing a creative brief for a client presentation in the morning. The social media manager is creating content for next week’s client event, while the managing partner is tweaking an analytics report to round out a client project as the semester comes to an end. By 7 p.m., they will all be in the dining hall, back into college student mode before they head to the library for a late night of studying.

President Rooney with two PRIMA students

They are the St. John Fisher College students who comprise The PRIMA Group, the College’s student-run public relations integrated marketing advertising agency.

PRIMA, an award-winning firm and popular student club, is housed in the College’s Media and Communication Department. The group has twice been named the Academic Club of the Year by the Student Government Association, and they’re just getting started.

The organization simulates a real public relations and advertising agency, welcoming students of all majors. It is structured as four departments: account services, public relations and marketing, event planning, and creative services. These departments ultimately divide into three groups: client teams, event committees, and the executive board of directors, with members fulfilling the roles of managing partners, director of public relations and marketing, creative director, director of events, director of finance, and director of human resources, recruitment, and retention. Small teams work to provide pro bono services to Rochester organizations in need of marketing and communications guidance. Whether they need assistance with public relations, graphic design, social media, or event planning, the organization can help. The full range of services also includes strategic planning, web analytics, research, brand strategizing, and advertising. Members of the organization say they find it to be an exceptional experiential learning opportunity where they also gain impressive portfolio pieces and valuable connections to the Rochester community.

Students working with clients

Assistant professor in the Department of Media and Communication and 2019 Advisor of the Year, Arien Rozelle, has led the group to new heights, leaving an impression on many of the students whose career focus is now on an agency setting.

“I am tremendously proud of our students in The PRIMA Group, and it’s a joy to serve as the agency’s advisor,” she said. “Each year, the agency grows in size and skill, taking on bigger and more complex clients and projects. I am consistently impressed with the professionalism and dedication of the students in the agency, who join because they understand the value it provides to them as they look to enter the job market. The PRIMA Group is truly an entrepreneurial endeavor, and the benefits to our students are endless.”

In addition to planning and executing public relations, advertising, marketing, and social media plans and campaigns, students experience client relations, an experience Rozelle says can’t be learned from a textbook. She also cites their developed skills in time management, project management, and teamwork.

“Through hands-on client work, they sharpen their listening skills, critical thinking skills, creativity, and other professional skills. Students also develop confidence in their skills and abilities, so by time they finish their work in the organization, they’re well prepared to embark on their chosen career path,” she added.

Past, Current, and Future Clients

Bivona Child Advocacy Center, Water for South Sudan, Rochester City Ballet, Visual Changes, and the St. John Fisher College Department of Media and Communication are among PRIMA’s list of valuable past clients. In 2013-14, the organization created an annual report for Fisher’s Lavery Library. Ten months of researching, planning, copy writing, and designing led to the library’s first annual report in almost a decade. The client team also created a small pamphlet for the library to present to the College’s Board of Trustees that highlighted current issues with the library’s infrastructure in hopes of receiving a grant approval. This project traveled all the way to San Francisco, where it was awarded the 2015 PR Xchange Award in the Annual Report/Strategic Plan Small Library category, chosen from among 375 entries.

PRIMA students at the Gilda's Club funraiser

Fast forward to spring 2018 when The PRIMA Group supported another in-house client, Fisher’s Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Program. The client team worked to rebrand the literacy program, from Rise Up Kids to Seeds of Success. With this, the team created a new name, logo, bright color scheme, and messaging. The client received a rebranded manual, program brochure, and style guide, as well as T-shirts and a board game for Fisher education students to use when implementing the program.

Along with hands-on work experience, PRIMA members also have access to professional development opportunities. This past fall, students traveled to Austin, Texas, to participate in the 2018 Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Conference. While there, they were exposed to the larger public relations field, learning about industry innovations and acquiring the skills necessary to be successful.

Part of the agency since her freshman year, Lindsey Garrant ’19 credits much of her success and growth as a student to the work she has engaged in as a member.

PRIMA students in a step and repeat

“The PRIMA Group has equipped me with invaluable skills and has filled my résumé and portfolio with real-life work experiences,” she said. “Holding leadership roles in the group has made me a better leader and a more effective communicator. I have made countless connections with my peers and with professionals in the Rochester community as a result of the work that The PRIMA Group does and the events that we hold each year.”

This article was written by Caroline Seaberg ’19 who served as executive intern in the Office of Marketing and Communications for the 2018-19 academic year.