By Hannah Ross
Did you know that there’s a public relations firm on campus? Eagle Communications, which is part of American University’s PRSSA chapter is a student-run PR agency. We talked to Madden McDonagh, firm director of Eagle Communications (Eagle Comm for short) and asked her what it’s like working on a student-run firm and balancing client expectations with student commitments.
For people who don’t know, what is Eagle Comm?
Eagle Comm is a student run PR firm run through PRSSA here at AU. Student run-PR firms are part of many PRSSA chapters across the country. We help represent and do projects for clients on campus and off.
What is your job as firm director? What are the student members in the firm responsible for?
A lot of my job is done at the beginning, securing a client and being the main point of contact between the client and the firm. What students do is what I delegate to them. Whatever projects we get, I delegate pieces or entire projects to individual students or groups of students in the firm. Tasks might include research, social media planning, and a lot of brainstorming. In the past we’ve drafted events for clients. We do a lot of idea sharing between each member.
What have some of your past clients and projects been?
Last semester we worked with a nonprofit in DC, Campus Kitchen that helped take food that was left over from college dining rooms and repackage it for soup kitchens. There are Campus Kitchen chapters across the country and we worked with the DC chapter to help make an internship posting for them and we designed an event for them. We also connected them with on-campus groups that could help volunteer for them.
Can you tell us about some of your upcoming projects?
We’re hoping to work with the social media club this semester. We have an exciting off-campus client and we’re helping do a lot of PR research and media outreach for them.
What kind of challenges do you face as a student running a firm? Is it difficult working from campus and juggling other commitments?
It’s not as hard at it may seem, especially when I have a good group of people working with me in the firm. Not everything goes to me, we all work equally as hard for our clients. It’s hard at first doing outreach because people don’t entirely understand what we can provide for them, but part of my job is relaying that information articulately to potential clients.
What is one of your client success stories?
We did a lot of research into what kind of internship would work for our client, and how we could effectively reach students on campus to let them know about this internship and find someone who would be a good fit for our client. We were able to post the internship everywhere and we got a lot of great feedback on our work. It taught us to do thorough research, figure out who you’re looking for, and how to define what you’re looking for.
What type of career skills do you gain by being on Eagle Comm?
Eagle Comm is very much an internship experience. It’s a resume-ready, cover letter-ready position and it’s great for students who have a lot of commitments already but still want to get a head start on communications or PR work, or have experience doing more with their major. Eagle Comm is an amazing opportunity that won’t be incredibly time consuming but will result in real work and experience. It also helps you learn what to expect from people you work with, and work more professionally within a group with a bunch of people who are interested in what you’re doing, which is a much better experience than a group project. It’s a great opportunity to learn how to work with a client.
What should a student do if they’re interested in joining Eagle Comm?
They should come to our meetings on Mondays, 6-8 PM in McKinley 102!
About Madden: Madden is a junior in the School of Communications studying Public Relations and Marketing. Hailing from New York City, Madden is an avid fan of the New York Yankees. She has a life-long dream of being the first female umpire in the MLB, but for now, is excited to lead Eagle Communications as Firm Director this year. When she’s not running around McKinley, Madden can be found playing guitar and piano in Katzen.