Do’s and Don’ts of Student-run Firm Leadership

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A new school year means new leadership for Student-run Firms across the country. Some executive leadership will remain the same, while other teams may have the opportunity to grow under new leadership. In any case, leading a Student-run Firm is no small feat. As the busy semester begins, take a look at these do’s and don’ts of Student-run Firm leadership.

Do build leaders.

Though a Student-run Firm’s main focus is serving clients, they also focus on the opportunity to build leaders and strengthen skillsets. It is important to let the students use their skills, take initiative and lead their peers. Avoid pigeonholing students into areas where they show success but allow them to try different services to create holistic leaders. Acting as the firm’s executive leadership, it is important to remember good leaders edify other students’ leadership abilities so try not to micromanage and, most importantly, delegate.

Do have open lines of communication with all members.

As a leader, it is extremely important to be available to members. Be a leader that firm members can approach with questions and seek advice — but also be someone that they want to brainstorm and share their successes with. In Student-run Firms, executive leadership and members are growing as public relations professionals together. Having an open line of communication will help facilitate this growth by allowing all members to learn from one another. Being present and available to members, clients or other leaders will create an interactive environment where members feel comfortable sharing their ideas.

Do establish standards.

Standards are the backbone to any organization and Student-run Firms are no different. Establishing standards allows members to settle into a work routine, especially when leadership is shifting. Try not to deviate from the firm’s “norm” too often but be mindful of the “norm” that is created. Lead with a clear mission and vision from the beginning of the semester. This way members know what to expect. This creates accountability and measurable outcomes for the entire firm.

Don’t set unattainable goals.

Goals are crucial in public relations and in Student-run Firms. Executive leadership should set goals that are attainable for both firm members and the leadership team. These goals may look different for each client team and firm positions, as teams contain different members and varying skillsets. Ask clients what their goals are for the semester and be realistic when discussing them.

Remember that firm members cannot dedicate all of their time to their client and the firm. Be aware of the workload students are balancing and don’t promise clients work if it is not possible to complete.


Don’t trust your gut.

In a firm environment, evaluation, research and measurement are crucial for clients and for firm leadership. Leaders should ask themselves, “Is my leadership benefiting both the members and the clients?” Evaluating leadership can be as simple as soliciting feedback from firm members and clients through a conversation or online survey.  As executive leaders, it is important to recognize what leadership style is effective for the members and clients through research and evaluation.

Gabrielle Coy is a junior public relations major. She serves as the special events coordinator for the Waynesburg University Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter as well as assistant firm director for Red Brick Communications, Waynesburg’s Student-run Firm. Someday she hopes to use her love of public relations in the nonprofit sector.


Amanda Troncone is a junior public relations major at Waynesburg University where she serves as the vice president for the Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter. Additionally, she acts as the firm director for the Nationally Affiliated Student-run Firm, Red Brick Communications. Follow her on Twitter @TheArt2015 or connect with her on LinkedIn.   

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