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Top dog Communication

It’s hard work being top dog.

Press releases need to be written and delivered in a timely manner. Upcoming events need a brochure. Ideas for a new brand-awareness campaign have to be pitched to the client. Scripts for radio spots have to be written and recorded.  These are typical tasks in a day of a public relations professional. They’re also typical at UIndy’s student-run public relations firm, Top Dog Communication.  These students are getting a preview of the professional world and hands-on experience in the field while still in school—earning national kudos for their efforts and adding some serious weight to their résumés.

We’re number 1

Top Dog was named Outstanding Chapter Firm by the Public RelationsStudent Society of America at its 2011 PRSSA national conference. The criteria included the campaigns conducted for clients, the structure of the firm, and the students’ professional development. Top Dog is structured the way a PR firm would be in the real world, and its director works with the faculty advisor to run the firm.

Three account managers are in charge of the client’s account.

Top Dog’s clients are nonprofits and all the work is done at no charge. The clients change each semester, and the Top Dog group creates an entire campaign to meet every client’s objective.

“For me,” Jenn Meadows says, “being a part of Top Dog has given me a taste of the real world. There’s only so much that a textbook could teach me about public relations, and this hands-on-experience is so valuable to my education. Because of my involvement with our firm, I’ve learned how to manage my time efficiently and how to meet deadlines. I would have never learned this from a book.”

A class that gets you out of the classroom

Top Dog Communication centers on a class called Applied Public Relations. The course requires each student to complete a professional development assignment.

Required activities include attending a Hoosier Public Relations Society of America luncheon, shadowing a public relations professional,
attending workshops and conferences about public relations, and attending UIndy PRSSA meetings.

“These activities force us to get out there and meet professionals and other PR students to network,”  Jenn says. “Some of our students have found internships and jobs by attending a luncheon or a conference.”

PR professor Rebecca Deemer has been with the Top Dog program for five years now.

“I’m so proud of our students and alumni, and what we’ve created here,” she says. “The Top Dog experience has proven so helpful in providing a great start-up
network for the students. The professional experience is beyond comparison, as students work the entire semester on a strategic plan and then implement the plan directly with the clients. It’s 100 percent real-world.”

“It’s such an awesome opportunity,” account manager Lara Parker says. “I feel lucky to be a part of it. I feel so proud and honored to be a part of this firm and I know it will prepare me for the next step of my life.”