Author: Cis Ga

SLIS Graduate Student Jillian Sico

Graduate Student Spotlight: Jillian Sico

This story is one in a continuing series of C&IS graduate student spotlights. These spotlights give insight into the academic and professional lives of master’s and Ph.D. students as they advance knowledge in their respective fields of communication and information sciences. The questions serve to highlight the many aspects of the graduate student experience as well provide guidance for prospective students. To nominate a current C&IS student or graduate for a spotlight, email Cole Lanier at

Jillian Sico, a current graduate student in the MFA Book Arts program, discusses switching careers at age 34, her proudest moments and greatest challenges. When not studying in Gorgas Library, Sico can be found outside: hiking, camping and collecting plants. With the help of another graduate student, Sico started a community garden plot in Tuscaloosa where they grow papermaking and dye plants. Here is what she has to say about her experience in C&IS:

Tell us about your experience in graduate school.

I came to the MFA Book Arts program after earning an MA in Anthropology at UGA and working for several years in the non profit world. Being in the Book Arts program at UA has allowed me to pursue my dream of a second career in art, while also doing academic research on papermaking and book arts traditions. I feel very privileged to be here learning new creative skills, including letterpress printing, papermaking and bookbinding.

What are some of the highlights during your time in graduate school? 

I was excited to be supported by SLIS, the Graduate School, and Capstone International Center to do research on papermaking and book arts in Mexico last summer. Last fall, I made an artist book edition about amate, a traditional type of bark paper from Mexico, using paper made from mulberry bark I harvested here in Tuscaloosa. I was incredibly honored (and surprised!) to receive the C&IS and University-wide award for Outstanding Research by a Master’s Student this spring, as well as the SLIS Faculty Scholar Award and the Raymond F. McLain Book Arts Award.

What are your plans after graduation? How does this degree fit into your life plans?

I hope to teach university-level and workshop classes in book arts and papermaking, continue to research papermaking, and make artist books. I would also like to do some community outreach, especially related to papermaking. I really feel I have found my calling in book arts, so I hope I can make a successful career out of it.

What has been your greatest challenge?

The creative process is always inherently challenging, especially after being removed from it for so many years.

What is your favorite part about the program?

I love making artist book editions, especially ones that involve handmade paper, writing and some form of research. The Book Arts faculty, Anna Embree and Sarah Bryant, are also amazing artists and people who have been incredibly supportive; I feel lucky to know them.

What advice do you have to students about to enter graduate school?

Try not to overbook yourself, but be very proactive about finding opportunities both within and outside the University. Be open to new ideas, but make sure to keep to your ideals, values and vision.

Why did you choose UA for your graduate studies?

UA has one of the best, most well-regarded and oldest Book Arts programs in the country. I was already living in the Southeast and glad I could stay in this region while studying what I love.

If you would like to learn more about Jillian’s graduate experience, you can follow her on Instagram at @jillianmarys.


Amy Fincher, of Firaxis Studios, Speaks on Leadership and Game Development

On Wednesday, April 17, Amy Fincher, of Firaxis Studios, spoke on leadership and game development, the role of communication studies and her leadership on the Civilization games to a group of C&IS students. She also gave a tailored talk to Dr. Britt class later that day. Fincher brings over a decade of expertise in development for one of the most celebrated video game series. As a producer, she bridges the gap between educating students on games and collaborating with faculty on research.

Fincher’s professional background in the industry presented a natural opportunity to share her expertise with students. She also spoke with students in Dr. Steve Holiday’s advertising course and Dr. Coral Marshall’s sports writing class — all of which have components that relate to mass media and video games. Fincher came to C&IS through a longtime friendship with Dr. Britt as they both share a love for video games and working with students.

“The opportunity for students to learn from professionals in the field is important for their professional development, as it presents potential networking opportunities and chances to receive critiques on their resumes and portfolios,” said Dr. Britt. “Individuals with experience like Amy provide a wonderful learning opportunity for students.”

Fincher’s talks and Q&A sessions provided a springboard for students to further discuss their questions about the industry from a respected professional. To learn more about C&IS, visit


The Alabama Forensic Council celebrates a fourth-place finish at the AFA-NIET in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama Forensic Council Finishes 4th at 2019 NIET

The Alabama Forensic Council celebrates a fourth-place finish at the AFA-NIET in Tuscaloosa.
The Alabama Forensic Council celebrates a fourth-place finish at the AFA-NIET in Tuscaloosa.

The Alabama Forensic Council finished in fourth place at the 2019 American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament (NIET) this past weekend in Tuscaloosa. This marks the third consecutive year that the Alabama Forensic Council has placed in the top five teams in the nation and UA’s third time hosting.

The tournament featured over 400 students from 60 schools and is centered around facilitating and celebrating speech education excellence at the intercollegiate level. The NIET is held every April and brings students from across the nation to compete for national championships in 11 events. Students reach the NIET through a rigorous at-large and district qualification system verified by organizational officers.

“It was a great honor for our program to serve as the hosts of this event and for our students to succeed the way they did. Most importantly, every student competing this past weekend earned points toward our team finish,” said Bobby Imbody, director of forensics at The College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS). “Being able to host our colleagues from around the country, show them our beautiful campus and earn fourth place as a team is a feat we will cherish for years in our program. This group is special and accomplished a great deal this season.”

In addition to placing fourth overall, the Alabama Forensic Council had its most successful tournament yet in terms of students advancing to elimination rounds 14 of 25, the number of overall events advancing to elimination rounds, 28, and the overall number of events in final rounds, 12. Among University of Alabama top finishers, senior Alexis Simmons (Montgomery) earned the National Championship in Poetry Interpretation, and senior McLean Stewart (Montgomery) earned the national championship in After Dinner Speaking and was named to the AFA-NIET All-American Team. Additionally, Danielle Pacia (Morristown, TN) finished second in Informative Speaking.

“With instruction from some of the most outstanding coaches, the speech I presented at the National Tournament was the culmination of months of research, draft edits and performance improvements,” said Stewart. “Preparing for the tournament was a challenging and rewarding process. Delivering my speech one last time in the final round, hearing my name announced next to the words ‘National Champion,’ and receiving such warm support from the crowd are moments I will never forget.”


Individual results:

Alexis Simmons          3rd Place Overall speaker

Danielle Pacia            11th Place Overall Speaker

McLean Stewart         13th Place Overall Speaker



National Champions through 6th place = National Finalist

Semi-Finalist = top-12

Quarter-Finalist = top-24



Pearce Barringer – Montgomery, AL

6th Place Extemporaneous Speaking


Currie Blackwell – Petal, MS

Quarter-Finalist Poetry Interpretation


Danielle Pacia  -Morristown, TN

2nd Place Informative Speaking

4th Place Communication Analysis

4th Place Duo Interpretation with Alexis Simmons

Semi-Finalist Communication Analysis

Quarter-Finalist Impromptu Speaking


Alexis Simmons – Montgomery, AL

National Champion Poetry Interpretation

3rd Place Informative Speaking

4th Place Prose Interpretation

4th Place Duo Interpretation with Danielle Pacia

Semi-Finalist Dramatic Interpretation


McLean Stewart – Montgomery, AL

National Champion After-Dinner Speaking

5th Place Informative Speaking

Semi-Finalist Extemporaneous Speaking

Quarter-Finalist Impromptu Speaking



Madison Hall – Montgomery, AL

6th Place Dramatic Interpretation

Semi-Finalist Persuasive Speaking

Quarter-Finalist Program Oral Interpretation


Caitlin Lofton – New Orleans, LA

5th Place Dramatic Interpretation

Quarter – Finalist Prose Interpretation


Jordan Taylor – Charlottesville, VA

Semi-Finalist After-dinner Speaking

Quarter-Finalist Program Oral Interpretation


Sydney Terry – Bulls Gap, TN

Quarter-Finalist Duo Interpretation with Isaiah McDermott

Quarter-Finalist Persuasive Speaking



Emma Capitanelli – Collierville, TN

Quarter-Finalist Communication Analysis


Isaiah McDermott – Morristown, TN

Quarter-Finalist Duo Interpretation with Sydney Terry


Cortland Stone – Poland, OH

5th Place Communication Analysis


First-Year Students:

Anna Kutbay – Morristown, TN

Semi-Finalist Persuasive Speaking

Quarter-Finalist Extemporaneous Speaking


Elizabeth Tagg – Tyler, TX

Quarter-Finalist Program Oral Interpretation


Founded in 1946, the Alabama Forensic Council is the oldest co-curricular organization at The University of Alabama. The Alabama Forensics Council boasts 21 forensic national championships and is housed by the College of Communication and Information Sciences and is open to UA students of all academic disciplines.  

Kiley Lord, C&IS Senior, Awarded Top Undergraduate Honors Conference Paper

Kiley Lord (fourth from left) received the Franklin Shirley Award for the Top Undergraduate Honors Conference Paper at the Southern States Communication Association (SSCA) Convention.
Kiley Lord, pictured fourth from left

Kiley Lord, a senior in the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS), was recently awarded the Franklin Shirley Award for the Top Undergraduate Honors Conference Paper at the Southern States Communication Association (SSCA) Convention this past weekend in Montgomery, Alabama. The convention’s purpose is to promote the study, criticism, research, teaching and application of the artistic, humanistic and scientific principles of communication. SSCA is a nonprofit organization that exists for educational, scientific and literary purposes only.

Lord’s research specializes in a popular Youtube series titled “S— Southern Women Say” and examines gender roles and expectations for women in the south. She postulates her research on the idea that gender is something that people perform and points to examples in the Youtube series as being representative of cultural norms compared to other regions in the United States. Lord grew up in Connecticut but spent her summers with family in Mississippi. This upbringing sparked an interested in the duality of cultural norms in the south vs the east coast.

Lord first explored this topic in the Spring of 2018 in Dr. Jessy Ohl’s class and was encouraged to develop her research about ideological arguments more. Over summer, Lord spent time researching communication theory, reading both fiction and nonfiction accounts that documented women in the south and connecting how the Youtube series reflected expectations of the region. Her paper concluded that the series is not inclusive of the entire spectrum of southern women. It is limited to the life experience of wealthy, white, Christian women and does not account for other races, religions or genders.

“This conference was a great fit for my area of research, and I am grateful for Dr. Ohl’s assistance in editing back and forth,” said Lord. “So much of my enthusiasm for this research has come from Dr. Ohl’s encouragement and feedback. I was intimidated by the idea of doing undergraduate research, but now I am considering doing research at the master’s level.

Lord received a monetary award and a plaque in addition to presenting her research in the undergraduate research forum on April 6.

The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ faculty and students at The University of Alabama conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. To learn more about the College’s research initiatives, visit

Brooke Bailey

APR Senior Spotlight: Brooke Bailey

The following is a repost from UA News Center featuring APR senior and 2018 Susan Colvin Prize winner, Brooke Bailey. 

Maybe it’s the alliteration.

Brooke Bailey, a UA public relations major, cites a home-towner’s help in sparking her career choice. That professional located in Bailey’s native Daphne, Alabama? Jennifer Jenkins, president of JJPR, a public relations agency.

The alliterative effect found in their names isn’t their only commonality.

Bailey, who interned at JJPR in the summer of 2017, and Jenkins, a University of Alabama alumna, also seem to share a mutual admiration.

“Brooke was definitely one of our shining stars when it comes to interns,” Jenkins says. “She was very well-versed. Her writing skills were wonderful. That is one of the hardest things to find when we are taking on interns and training them. We don’t always have a lot of time to teach those skills.”

Jenkins also cites Bailey’s professional drive.

“One of the things we look for first and foremost is initiative,” Jenkins says. “She had a lot of experience coordinating events, and she was great on the phone. She didn’t hesitate to pick up the phone and make calls to vendors or media contacts.”

Jenkins leads an award-winning agency; Bailey, though still a student, oversees 40 student art directors and copywriters in her role as assistant creative director with UA’s Capstone Agency, a student-run communication firm. She was named recipient of the Susan Colvin Prize, awarded annually to the College of Communication and Information Sciences’ most outstanding student.

Jenkins, a Fayette, Alabama native, also knows a thing or two about looking up to role models. She says it was her own hometown hero, Jackie Waldon, a PR professional at the local hospital, who first showed her the potential a path in public relations offered when she was a teenager.

“Jennifer is one of the most amazing women I have had the opportunity to know,” Bailey says of her mentor. She describes Jenkins’ work ethic as inspirational and says she successfully balances her professional drive alongside commitments to family and community.

Bailey is a recipient of the Susan Colvin Prize, awarded annually to the College of Communication and Information Sciences’ most outstanding student.

“She’s on top of her game as a parent, and at the agency and in her community,” Bailey says. “That showed me that you can be in the industry and work really hard and also have a home life and be influential in your community and give back.”

During her internship, the UA student helped develop social media content calendars for the firm, wrote blogs for its clients and weighed in on PR issues during the firm’s weekly staff meetings.

“We had so much fun that summer,” says Bailey, a 2015 Daphne High School graduate. “I don’t think there was any point that summer where I felt like just an intern.”

President of the UA College of Communication and Information Sciences Ambassadors, Bailey is scheduled to graduate in May. With minors in studio art and computing technology and applications, Bailey says she wants to focus on the visual side of public relations. She is applying for fellowships and positions with some of the larger public relations agencies in Washington D.C., Chicago and New York.

“I think Brooke is going to be one of those people who makes the University really proud,” Jenkins says. “We will see her in big places doing great things upon graduation.”

Bailey says it’s the variety of opportunities, both big and small, that she relishes most about her chosen profession.

“I think I most enjoy the flexibility of public relations and the nature of how it changes from day to day. You never know what you are going to be doing.”

And, you never know who you will encounter along your path who might prove pertinent to your profession.

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.


C&IS Senior Alana Doyle is the PRWeek PR Student of the Year

C&IS Senior Named PR Student of the Year

C&IS Senior Alana Doyle is the PRWeek PR Student of the Year
C&IS senior Alana Doyle is the PRWeek Public Relations Student of the Year.

PRWeek has named Alana Doyle, a senior in the department of advertising and public relations (APR), its Public Relations Student of the Year. Doyle was one of two students from the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) on a national shortlist of only five students selected for the award, along with Gabby DiCarlo. The winner was announced on March 21 in New York City at the annual PRWeek Awards.

Doyle, of Scottsdale, Arizona, is the University’s second PRWeek Student of the Year winner. Maret Montanari received the Public Relations Student of the Year in 2018 and Katie Gatti was runner-up in 2017.

“Over the last few days, I have been blown away by the love and support I have received from The University of Alabama. I am so grateful to this school and the APR department for preparing me for success,” Doyle said. “The faculty and staff in the department are some of the most talented, inspirational and dedicated individuals I have ever met.”

This year’s campaign prompt challenged applicants to create a campaign for Levi Strauss wide-leg jeans that targeted Gen Z consumers. Doyle’s campaign, #ComfortIsBack, suggested that comfort was the way to the Gen Z consumer’s heart and that social media influencers on platforms such as TikTok could serve as brand ambassadors showcasing the new fit of Levi jeans.

PRWeek judges highlighted Doyle’s “smart research” and “easy to remember messaging.” They also issued the following feedback about her campaign, #ComfortIsBack:

“The campaign showed terrific understanding of how to marry a solid strategy to actual results – the primary reasons clients turn to PR experts.”

Doyle serves as a senior copywriter for Capstone Agency, UA’s nationally affiliated, student-run, integrated communications firm and was awarded the agency’s Star Client Team Member Award, Star Department Member Award and the Copywriting Challenge Award last year. For the last two years, Doyle has also served as Co-Vice President of Projects on the Board of the student chapter of PRCA (Public Relations Council of Alabama).

She was also selected as Viacom’s only intern to interview celebrities on the 2018 VMA’s red carpet. As graduation approaches this spring, she is determining her career aspirations, but she is interested in working in media relations or brand strategy for a global agency.

“Alana’s path to being the 2019 PR Student of the Year was paved by her never-stop work ethic. Her drive, and the skills she developed in our program, are going to be incredible assets for the organization fortunate enough to hire her,” said Dr. Joseph Phelps, chair of the department of advertising and public relations. “Alana’s win is also special as she helped The University of Alabama to continue its streak with both the 2018 and now 2019 Outstanding PR Students coming from our program. I am extraordinarily proud of the great work our students are doing and of my colleagues that are teaching and mentoring these outstanding students.”

“I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the caliber of applicants from across the country in this competition as to be ranked among them is an honor in itself. I’m so grateful for the friendships this experience has brought me,” Doyle posted to her Instagram account. “Beyond these acknowledgements, I’d like to thank my family, my friends, the Alabama APR department, former mentors and employers, @bamadeltagamma@capstoneagency and @ua_prca for your love and continuous support. I wouldn’t be who I am today without you. Thank you, again, to everyone at PRWeek!”

The Department of Advertising and Public Relations is a part of the College of Communication and Information Sciences at The University of Alabama. For more information about the College, please visit

Emerging Media Entrepreneur Headlines 10th Annual C&IS Diversity Symposium

Justin Ching, Keynote Speaker at the 2019 Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium
Justin Ching, Keynote Speaker at the 2019 Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium

The College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS), in partnership with the Alabama Program in Sports Communication (APSC), welcomes Justin Ching, one of Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30” Millennials Changing Media to campus for the 10th Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium February 28-March 1.

Ching, 29, is the founder of j-school, a production company dedicated to empowering underrepresented communities to tell their own stories in their own voices.  As part of his keynote presentation, Ching will screen some of his projects such as the sports shows “Ritual,” “@TheBuzzer” and “Deportes @TheBuzzer.”

“He’s definitely the youngest keynote presenter we’ve had in the 10-year-old history of the symposium,” said George Daniels, assistant dean for administration. “We’re excited to have him on campus to inspire our students to see their potential to make an impact very early in their careers.”

In addition to his keynote presentation,  Ching will participate in a special keynote panel discussion on “Constructing the Narrative of the Activist Athlete,” along with Rashad Johnson, former NFL Player and UA alumnus and others. The panel will be moderated by Caryl Cooper, who originally launched the Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium in 2010.

“One of the symposium’s objectives was to create an intellectual environment that appreciates, advances and supports scholarly research and creative activities that focus on the communication of stories, experiences and issues that impact diverse populations,” said Cooper. “As senior faculty, I believed that it’s our duty to visit with our new colleagues, find out their research interests and goals, and demonstrate how diversity intersects with teaching and research productivity.”

Cooper’s panel on the activist athlete exemplifies the sports-focus of this year’s event, which is being co-sponsored with the APSC. Other sports-related research projects are among the more than 30 diversity-related research paper and poster presentations slated to be made during the symposium that feature both undergraduate and graduate students and faculty.

Over the years, the symposium has continued to attract presenters from other universities.  This year, scholars from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Mississippi will appear on the program.

The symposium begins at 8 a.m. on Feb. 28 and continues through 4:45 p.m. Lunch will be provided. Attendee registration info to follow.

Contact: Dr. George Daniels,

Gloris Trujillo, APR Graduate Student, Wins Berger Award for Leadership

Trujillo accepts award at Half Shell Oyster House
Trujillo accepts award at Half Shell Oyster House

Gloris Trujillo, a first-year graduate student at The University of Alabama, was named the recipient of the 2019 Bruce K. Berger Graduate Student Leadership Award on Saturday, Feb. 9.

The Department of Advertising and Public Relations at The University of Alabama established this award in 2013 to honor a graduate student in the advertising and public relations Master of Arts program for exemplary leadership. The students in the M.A. program voted in December to select the student who best demonstrated passion for work and the public relations profession, exemplified a strong ethical orientation and employed an inclusive style of leadership.

“Being a part of a group of future leaders, I feel really honored that my peers chose me as the person they think exemplifies leadership,” said Trujillo. “It feels really good that people who are with me almost every day saw those leadership skills in me.”

Trujillo is in her first year of the two-year APR master’s program at UA and is a Fulbright recipient from Panama City, Panama. She graduated cum laude from Universidad Católica Santa María la Antigua in 2015 and currently serves as the co-vice president of diversity and inclusion in UA’s Public Relations Student Society of America.

Trujillo anticipates completing her degree in the spring of 2020 and would like to work in the research department of an agency and continue her research into diversity and inclusion in public relations.

This award is named after professor emeritus Dr. Bruce Berger, who served as the first director for the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, and most recently served as the research director for the Center. Berger’s research focuses on public relations leadership and garners acclaim both in the profession and academia.

“Dr. Berger is not only an inspiration for us, but for everyone,” said Trujillo. “I want to emulate what he has done in the public relations industry with his experience and research.”

Dr. Joseph Phelps, chair of the department of advertising and public relations, presented the award during the Plank Center Board of Advisors dinner at Half Shell Oyster House. Since its inception, the presentation of the award has been tied to the Plank Center and its focus on producing servant leaders in the field of public relations.

About the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations: The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations is the leading international resource for practitioners, educators and students who are passionate about advancing their careers and the public relations profession. Led by a national advisory board of leading educators and practitioners, the Center develops and recognizes outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors to advance ethical public relations in an evolving, global society. Founded in 2005, the Center is named after Betsy Plank, the first lady of PR. Betsy’s legacy and vision continues on in the Center’s programs and initiatives to advance the profession and public relations education. For more information, please visit

Plank Center Hosts 2019 Professional Roundtable

Participants of the 2019 Professionals Roundtable

Students at The University of Alabama representing Capstone Agency, Platform Magazine and the advertising and public relations master’s program had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with a dozen members of the Plank Board of Advisors at this year’s Professional Roundtable event on Saturday, Feb. 9.

This annual event, hosted by the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, is organized by advertising and public relations students and designed to offer a unique opportunity for students to take part in conversations related to current trends and issues in the field of public relations with some of the world’s leading communicators and PR practitioners.

Prior to the day of the event, student organizers polled attendees to determine the topic of conversation for three breakout sessions, which kicked off this year’s roundtable.

Each breakout session consisted of a student-led discussion centered on one of three topics: transparency versus protection; technological developments and implementations; and diversity and inclusion in public relations.

“We chose to include breakout sessions in this year’s roundtable because we feel they lead to truly in-depth discussions,” said Derek Hooper, an APR graduate student and event organizer. “These conversations go beyond small talk and allow students to dive deep and pick the brains of members of our robust, ever-expanding professional network.”

After wrapping up the breakout sessions, leaders from each group shared some of the key takeaways and insights from their respective discussions:

    • Transparency has always mattered, but now conditions are different because of how quickly information spreads.
    • PR practitioners should seek facts and identify the “right” thing to do.
    • PR practitioners should look at organizational culture and values, and ask whether they’re upheld.
    • Social media acts as an integral listening tool, allowing us to better understand our audiences are and what they’re saying.
    • Social media influencers are quickly becoming one of the most effective channels for brands to communicate certain messages.
    • Artificial Intelligence is changing the way we do our jobs, and can help us predict what types of messaging will be most effective.
    • Understanding how to best reach audiences is the key to utilizing most emerging technologies.
    • PR is largely not on the radar for students in diverse schools and communities, and many are not aware of opportunities in this field.
    • Diversity is lacking in upper-level leadership and middle management.
    • Diversity does not equal inclusion, so intentional behavior is necessary to fostering a culture of inclusivity.

Next, roundtable attendees participated in a rapid-fire Q&A session focused on preparing for entry-level jobs in public relations. Students’ questions ranged from the necessity for narrowly-tailored cover letters and curating your LinkedIn profile to finding a place to work where you feel connected and expressing why you’re a good fit.

Each member of the Plank Board was able to share their wisdom and experience with the group, but the clear emphasis of the event was on the betterment of students, who made the event a success.

“All of the awards and artifacts related to the Plank Center and Betsy Plank used to be contained in one display case,” said Board of Advisors Chair Keith Burton. “But now, the Plank Center has such an enormous impact on the University, and it’s so encouraging to see the students here on a Saturday morning, honoring Betsy’s legacy and contributing so much to the profession.”

About the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations: The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations is the leading international resource for practitioners, educators and students who are passionate about advancing their careers and the public relations profession. Led by a national advisory board of leading educators and practitioners, the Center develops and recognizes outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors to advance ethical public relations in an evolving, global society. Founded in 2005, the Center is named after Betsy Plank, the first lady of PR. Betsy’s legacy and vision continues on in the Center’s programs and initiatives to advance the profession and public relations education. For more information, please visit

Capstone Agency Delivers 2,208 Hours in Pro Bono Work for 15 Local Nonprofits

Capstone students gather for the third annual CreateAthon

Capstone Agency, The University of Alabama’s nationally affiliated, student-run communications firm, held its third annual CreateAthon Friday, Feb. 1. The 24-hour integrated communications marathon amounted to 2,208 hours in donated work for 15 Tuscaloosa-area nonprofits.

As a national 501(c)(3) organization, CreateAthon unites professional and student-run communications teams across the nation to serve in 24-hour marketing marathons. To date, CreateAthon has delivered $24 million in pro bono services for more than 1,500 organizations, with a mission to deliver $100 million by 2020.

Each nonprofit came to the agency with a communications problem; whether it be a lack of awareness or an inconsistent visual identity, and over 90 students worked through the night to deliver solutions to these deserving organizations.

Smile-A-Mile development director, Savannah DeRieux, was grateful for the content and strategy pieces Capstone Agency developed for the organization.

“They took our need and the broad scope of what we are doing with our organization and put it into a campaign that we are going to use,” said DeRieux.

As for Capstone Agency’s Pro Bono Director, Olivia Lake, “it is hard to find the words to describe what participating in CreateAthon is like,” said Lake. “Serving as pro bono director was a humbling experience for me. Being behind the scenes and piecing together everything to create the big picture allowed me to be continuously reminded of the larger, societal need for what we are doing.”

The 15 nonprofits selected include: Alabama REACH; Arts n’ Autism; Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama; Boys and Girls Club of West Alabama; Camp Fire Alabama; Caring Days Adult Day Care; Dialysis Clinic Inc.; Freshwater Land Trust; Schoolyard Roots; Smile-A-Mile; Sweetwater Outreach; The University of Alabama Collaborative Arts Initiative; Tuscaloosa SAFE Center; United Cerebral Palsy of West Alabama; YMCA of Tuscaloosa.

Capstone Agency is a nationally affiliated, student-run, integrated communications firm comprised of communication students at UA. The agency has been a student organization in the College of Communication and Information Sciences since 2008.