It’s CLAgency Not CLA Agency

Written by Hamy Huynh and Cole Sterr

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Many people often ask us “What do you do at CLAgency? Do you just do work at your computer?” People are almost always confused as to what we mean by “We are a student-run communications agency that represents and promotes the College of Liberal Arts.” It became clear to us that not many people know what we do and how we operate.

 

That leads us to where we are now. Through this blog post, we will be discussing our work process and project, mission, positions, and the many benefits we have received while working for CLAgency. Please enjoy!

 

About Us

 

CLAgency was first started about 4.5 years ago by the Chief Marketing Officer of the College of Liberal Arts, Scott Meyer. His goal was to increase communication within the college, and he thought it’d be a great idea to get students involved and operate like a real public relations and communications agency.

 

Since then, CLAgency has grown into a full-fledged agency, getting better and better each semester. We’ve increased the number of people in our agency, implemented different promotional efforts, and have even expanded our staff positions!

 

Shattering Expectations

 

We are a student-run communications and public relations agency that represents and promotes the College of Liberal Arts (CLA). We are made up of just about 30 CLA undergraduate students, each of us assigned to a different department within the college. We represent fields such as Spanish and Portuguese Studies, Geography, Environment and Society, Gender and Women’s Sexuality Studies, and the list goes on and on!  

 

You know that stigma that’s like “what are you going to do with a liberal arts degree?” Yeah, that one. CLAgency aims to broaden the perspective of anyone who holds that stigma. As an agency, we interview and write stories about people doing groundbreaking things in their respective fields, whether that be having an internship at Tesla, doing research in Africa, or combating racially embedded stereotypes in society. Through the process of writing and editing stories on issues, research, and advancements, we help make CLA known and accessible to the public. CLAgency exceeds people’s expectations of what a liberal arts education can do (hence, our tagline “shattering expectations of what a liberal art education can be”).

 

Staff and Structure

 

CLAgency has a structured hierarchy of staff members. Firstly, we are oversought by the Office of Institutional Advancement (OIA) at the College of Liberal Arts. Scott Meyer leads our student-run organization and has facilitated much of the work we do now.

 

Most of our student staff members start off as Account Executives (AE) who can work their way up in the agency. CLAgency is directed by Managing Directors who oversee one of the corridors in the college of liberal arts (social sciences or arts and humanities), plan our work meetings, manage project teams, and make sure that CLAgency doesn’t burn to the ground. Next we have our Associate Managing Directors and Associate Creative Director. Then our Marketing Director, Social Media Director, In-House Coordinator, and a Head Photographer. We also have our Managing Editors who edit and make sure our stories are the best that they can be, as well as a number of photographers and web designers.

 

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Our Process and Work

 

As an AE, each of us represents different departments within the College of Liberal Arts, with every department acting as our “client.” Each AE works with one department, usually related to that AE’s area of study.

 

We work with our Department Chairs, and we are assigned three different subjects to interview throughout the semester, writing newsletter features about them that get posted on the departments’ websites and sent to UMN alumni. Each story represents a roadmap goal of the college (readiness, research, and engagement). We contact our subjects, set up an interview time, and then interview them about their work regarding their respective roadmap goal.

 

We then take our information from the interview, transcribe it, and then use the transcription to write our stories. We start with a rough draft which gets sent through a long editing process. Every draft first goes through a peer-review, then is sent off to be reviewed by one of our Managing Editors, then to one of our Senior Editors, our subject, and then, finally, it is reviewed by our department chair. This is a pretty extensive process and takes up most of the semester!

 

On top of writing stories, we are also assigned to one of the three CLAgency project teams: marketing, social media, or creative. The marketing team works together to plan events, lead recruiting efforts, and promote the agency on and off campus. The social team works to produce content on social media platforms and promote blogs on our website. Last but certainly not least, the creative team is in charge of creating graphics, branding, and video documentaries!

 

As if working with almost 30 different departments wasn’t enough, we prove that we’re capable of shattering expectations by working with external clients. CLAgency currently provides Canvas Health, ServeMinnesota, and the Minnesota Oral Health Care Project with public relations and communication services as well!

 

Behind the Scenes at CLAgency:

 

While writing this blog post, we have decided to ask our coworkers for their input about the opportunities they have received and the best and worst parts of working for CLAgency.

 

According to our coworkers, CLAgency gives us the opportunity to gain internships, network with business professionals in our fields, and create long-lasting friendships.

 

From working here, we’ve learned professional skills such as giving presentations, effectively communicating, and writing experience. Our Head Photographer, Jacob Van Blarcom explains, “CLAgency has ultimately opened a ridiculous amount of doors for me this year, and for that I am forever thankful.”

 

When asked about the best and worst aspects of working at CLAgency, our coworkers have reported the people, projects, and experience to be some of the best parts of working here, and transcribing interviews, deadlines, and the editing process to be some of the worst. Cole and I would have to agree! Even though transcribing interviews, having deadlines, and going through the editing process is tedious at times, we’re glad to go through these things because the people working at CLAgency as well as the subjects that we interview are amazing! Working together with our coworkers on projects for our individual work plans or for our project team gives us a great sense of accomplishment since we’re able to promote the value of having a liberal arts education.