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KU donors provide funds to establish a student-run strategic communications agency

October 27, 2014

The William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas has launched a student-run strategic communications agency, thanks to donors who have provided $400,000 in support to date.

Known as “The Agency,” the center offers real-world experiences to KU students. The school recently hired Janet Rose, Ph.D., to lead the program.

Janet Rose, Ph.D.

The Agency provides strategic communications services, including branding, advertising, video production, multimedia research, social media and more, to departments and schools across KU. Future plans include branching out to work with small businesses and nonprofits in the community.

Major donors supporting The Agency have been named as founding investing partners. These include alumni Donald Hunter, president/founder of ConferenceShow, Inc.; Jim Chastain, founding partner of RealityCheck; advertising agencies Sullivan Higdon & Sink; Muller Bressler & Brown; Callahan Creek; Bernstein-Rein; Barkley; and promotional marketing agency Grapevine Designs. Fundraising efforts through KU Endowment are continuing.

Like the other donors supporting the project, KU journalism alumnus Donald Hunter, of Kansas City, Missouri, was eager to participate.

“When Dean Ann Brill started talking to me about it, I thought her concept of creating something that was very pragmatic versus being entirely academic was critical,” said Hunter.

Ann Brill, dean of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, expressed appreciation for the generous support from donors.

“This is a great opportunity for KU students to connect with established agencies and future employers,” said Brill. “We hope that students from Journalism, Business, Engineering, Design and other disciplines will work together at The Agency to not only get great jobs, but impact the strategic communication world.”

At 4 o’clock on a recent Friday afternoon, six students were engaged in an animated conversation with Janet Rose, director of The Agency. They were discussing how to best brand their own agency, and, despite the weekend’s fast approach, they were in no hurry to leave. These students, and about 65 more, most of whom are journalism students, have applied to serve on The Agency’s inaugural staff.

The Agency’s director, Janet Rose, earned three degrees from KU — a bachelor’s and a master’s in English and a doctorate in American Studies. She is known in the marketing field as an innovative brand and market strategist.

“The Agency adds another pillar to the School of Journalism,” said Rose. “The fact that so many students have signed up speaks volumes about the quality of the students here at the J-School, and about the quality of teaching. There’s a wonderful spirit of collaboration among the faculty.”

Hunter said that hiring Janet Rose was a big win for the program. “She’s going to be a terrific director with her entrepreneurial and strategic communications experiences,” he said. “She’s the ideal person to establish this program and to manage it and teach it.”

Rose has extensive experience developing brand strategy and strategic messaging for clients such as Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Walmart, Kohl’s and many more. In addition, she brings a wealth of experience as both consultant and strategist for integrated marketing communications agencies including McCann-Erickson, Saatchi & Saatchi X, and FCB Global, working across international, national and regional initiatives. She and her teams have won numerous campaign and strategy industry awards. Her academic work focuses on business and consumer culture, theory and trends.

The gifts count toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s $1.2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future.

The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

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October 27, 2014
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Michelle Keller
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