PR Practice Outside the Classroom

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As a Communication Studies student at James Madison University, I have learned a variety of skills that will assist me in my post-graduation plans. As a senior, I feel confident about my future after college not only because of the education that I have received but also because of the experience I have gained outside the classroom working with real clients. I owe this to my student-run firm, Bluestone Communications.

My school’s firm launched last semester. I wanted to be a member of Bluestone Communications because I was ready to take what I had been learning in the classroom and put myself to the test.  Being offered the opportunity to work with real clients has been the highlight of my studies at JMU. Through this hands-on experience, I have learned the importance of client relations and balancing public relation efforts with client needs. I have also learned from my fellow peers who all have such a wide array of skills and knowledge to bring to the table. Working alongside such a talented and driven group of people continues to motivate me to grow as a public relations practitioner who gives their client their best work and effort.

My first semester with Bluestone Communications was the most enriching and influential professional experience I have had thus far.  In the spring, my account worked with a digital consulting center on campus. We aided them with their social media accounts, media placements and even hosted a “Headshots on The Quad” event for them to promote their professional headshot service. I learned the importance of client communication and saw firsthand the positive effects of collaboration. While my title within the team was Research Director, my role went way beyond that because I did work in the creative and media relations area. I think that is one of the main reasons why this firm experience is so valuable. Everyone is exposed to different tasks that go into working for a client. We all get the chance to practice our skills in different areas and that to me is the best way we can grow as students.  Apart from working with clients, Bluestone Communications has furthered my professional development through workshops. I’ve gone through an introductory course for Cision as well as learning what goes into the creation of an advertisement campaign and commercial.

Throughout my time with the firm, I have quickly learned that the sky’s the limit when it comes to what I will be able to do with a career in public relations. Bluestone Communications continues to prepare me not only to make a difference in the work I do but to also be an ethical public relation practitioner. The community that Bluestone Communications has provided me with has helped guide me and given me the tools I need to step confidently into the workforce. I am currently working with the firm this year as the Media and Issue Director for my account team. I am looking forward to the work I will be doing with Matchbox Realty and continuing to put my skills to the test!

If you are interested in starting a student-run firm, reach out to the Vice President of Professional Development, Ashleigh Kathryn at

Marcela Luna is a senior studying public relations and writing, rhetoric and technical communication at James Madison University.  She is currently the Director of Professional Development for JMU’s PRSSA chapter and staff member for Bluestone Communications, JMU’s student-run public relations firm.

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