CLAgency: The University Of Minnesota’s Student-run PR Agency

July 27, 2015

CLA LOGOAs you might know, Pooja and I aren’t Fast Horse’s typical interns. We’re about to be juniors at the University of Minnesota, and we come from the College of Liberal Arts’ student-run public-relations agency, CLAgency. CLAgency’s founder, Scott Meyer, a former CEO of Shandwick International and CSO of Weber Shandwick, actually taught the first PR course at the U.

One of his students was Fast Horse’s founder, Jörg Pierach, and they later became colleagues and friends. Jörg is now on CLAgency’s Board of Advocates, made up of a dozen or so marketing professionals in the Twin Cities. Because Pooja and I will be leading our agency this upcoming semester, Scott wanted us to experience a real-world agency from within and fully immerse ourselves in the culture, bringing back the knowledge to structure and run our agency to ensure longevity and growth in the future. After meeting with Jörg and a number of Ponies, we were given the opportunity to come on as summer interns — yes, please!

One challenge facing the College of Liberal Arts was a lack of communication between the nearly 40 departments and centers that make up the organization. Scott Meyer was hired as chief advancement officer with one objective: fix it. Thus, CLAgency was born. He hired nine account executives last fall (shout-out to the OGs) with varying majors and career goals, dubbing us CLAgency 1.0. We nine execs were each assigned a department to work with — I landed at the Heller-Hurwicz Economics Institute (I may or may not have been an econ major at one point). Our job was to work closely with our respective departments’ communications team and make sure they are still recognizable as a part of the College of Liberal Arts while maintaining individuality. By the end of fall semester, the foundation for CLAgency had been laid.

IMG_3881CLAgency is unique because we don’t just hire strategic communications majors. Ranging from computer science to political science, CLAgency is built to reflect its clients — in this case, the departments within the College of Liberal Arts. With a website launched and a team of 22 old and new account executives, CLAgency 1.5 is ready to expand our influence in the College of Liberal Arts. The spring had us focused on three main projects: branding the student community among the College of Liberal Arts, creating a new and revamped website, and helping the University’s Marching Band raise $400,000 for new uniforms. We actually came to Fast Horse in March and presented our accomplishments on the three projects.

Since its start last fall, CLAgency will have more than tripled in size by the time September rolls round.

Sound a little familiar, Ponies?