Frequently Asked Questions

FREQUENTLY ASKED STUDENT QUESTIONS:

What is PRLab?
PRLab at Boston University is the nation’s oldest student-run public relations firm and a cornerstone of the Boston University College of Communication PR experience. Our agency will give you hands-on practice in all aspects of PR agency life, from client service, strategic planning and implementation, to results reporting and new business development. You will work with real clients to solve real business challenges, delivering results that will have impact on their organizations.

In doing so, you will gain valuable hands-on knowledge and build a portfolio of client work to help you secure future positions in your career.

Who are the clients?
PRLab at Boston University has a wide variety of clients, ranging from corporations to non-profit agencies in the greater Boston area. Current clients include: AcceptU, Algonquin Club of Boston, Audrey’s Rescue Angels, Beantown Bedding, Ben & Jerry’s Boston, Boston University Police Department, Christina Clarke Genco Foundation, Cycle Kids, Goodwill, One for Health, Piers Park Sailing, Restoration Resources, Safe and Sound Schools, and Wild Idea Buffalo.

If I’m a PR major, do I have to take PRLab?
All PR majors in the College of Communication must either take COM CM473 – PRLab or COM CM 471 – Public Relations Internship. While not required, students have the ability and are encouraged to take both courses.

What if I’m not a PR Major, can I still take PRLab?
Absolutely. While its design is geared toward PR majors and minors, any student in the College of Communication can take PRLab, as long as they have taken the prerequisite courses.

How is PRLab organized?
The PRLab co-presidents facilitate the overall success of the student-client interactions and PRLab as a whole. They hold weekly meetings with the entire E-board and report directly to Prof. Shanler.

  • Client Service – One co-president oversees the agency/client relationships and work, addresses team-related issues and questions, and drives ongoing client updates, and in-class presentations
  • Operations – One co-president oversees agency operations, administration, marketing and new business, including social and PR for the agency. The co-president for operations also works with the client-service team to organize client-facing events such as the client fair and thank-you gathering.

PRLab directors assist with client service, ensuring that teams are fulfilling their client obligations with the highest-quality work, and support agency operations such as branding, integrated marketing, and business development efforts.

Account supervisors function as strategic managers for their executives and clients. Supervisors oversee the work of one or two account teams, ensuring the best thinking and strategy from the whole team. They provide editing, project tracking, and final approval on materials. Supervisors are the initial point of contact for clients, and are required to organize initial meetings, mid-point team check-ins, and final presentation meetings. Supervisors do not conduct the PR work, but are responsible for keeping their account executives motivated and engaged throughout the process. They will be involved, but should not drive day-to-day communication with the team and client. In addition, supervisors may be called on to support branding and marketing efforts for PRLab.

Account executives constitute the majority of PRLab. Account executives work directly with their assigned clients to fulfill their PR needs and objectives. Account Executives are not interns and should not be referred to as such because they work in an agency with clients who pay a fee for PRLab’s services. Account executives’ tasks vary depending on the clients they serve. Previously, account executives have helped plan and run events, created news releases, pitched to media, built media lists, written and produced content for websites, and initiated new-media campaigns.

Interns assist the presidents with various PRLab projects, from special events to new business outreach, and contribute to various account teams.

PR Professional/Faculty Advisor acts as the Board Director for the agency by providing ongoing guidance and support. The Board Director ensures overall client satisfaction, agency profitability, and brand management. The professor works with the E-board to drive the weekly all-agency meetings, and attends the weekly E-board meetings. The professor will also grade all projects.

I’ve already had internships, is PRLab the same thing?
Students enrolled in PRLab are not interns. They are account executives on a team working for a client and reporting to their account supervisor – just as in a real PR agency setting. Unlike the PR internship, we provide students with clients and work they truly own through completion.

How many hours a week is PRLab?
Account executives must meet targets for billable hours:

  • Four-credit students: must complete 14 hours of project work/week
    • Client work: 11 hours (includes client-facing meetings)
    • Class time: 2 hours
    • Weekly Account Team Meetings: 1 hour
  • Two-credit students: must complete 8.5 hours of project work/week
    • Client work: 5.5 hours (includes client-facing meetings)
    • Class time: 2 hours
    • Weekly Account Team Meetings: 1 hour

E-board students should meet the following targets:

  • Four-credit students: 14 hours of project work/week
    • Client/agency work: 9 hours (includes client-facing meetings)
    • E-board meeting: 1 hour
    • Class time: 2 hours
    • Weekly Account Team Meetings: 2 hour
  • Two-credit students:  8.5 hours of project work/week
    • Client/agency work: 4.5 hours (includes client-facing meetings)
    • E-board meeting: 1 hour
    • Class time: 2 hours
    • Weekly Account Team Meeting: 1 hour

 

Can you take PRLab more than once?
Students can take PRLab as many times as their schedule allows. However, students can only receive a maximum of eight (8) credits toward their graduation requirements (four as an account executive and four as a member of the executive board). Students with questions about their credit requirements should see Student Services or check in with Professor Shanler.

What are the prerequisites for taking PRLab?
The majority of PRLab students are juniors and seniors. Students must have taken Intro to PR: COM CM 301 and Writing for Mass Communication: COM CM 331. It is also recommended that students have already taken or enrolled in Media Relations.

How do you sign up for PRLab?
Students simply add COM CM 473 to their schedule when they register for classes on StudentLink. Students can take the class for two or four credits. To enroll, graduate students must have instructor permission to enter the class.

For students interested in applying for E-board, see the application page.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED CLIENT QUESTIONS:

What is public relations?
According to PRSSA, public relations is about “managing the flow of two-way communications between an organization and its constituents.” PR anticipates changes in public opinion, analyzes trends, and interprets the market. Effective PR influences the public and changes the behavior of the public. Effective PR also manages and enhances an organization’s reputation and builds a strong relationship with the organization’s constituents.

What kinds of clients does PRLab work with?
PRLab works with a broad range of clients, such as nonprofit organizations, BU departments, commercial businesses, and corporations in a variety of industries including:

  1. Healthcare
  2. Education
  3. Consumer goods
  4. Entertainment

How do you become a client of PRLab at Boston University?
For more information, contact Amy Shanler at shanlera@bu.edu. She will put you in touch with the president of operations who will continue the process. This includes completing an online application and participating in a telephone interview.

Where do students do the majority of client work?
The answer varies by client. Some clients prefer students to report to their offices on a weekly basis. While other clients would rather have work done on students’ own time, communicating by email and/or phone. Students of PRLab also have special access to the PRLab room, located in the lower level of College of Communication in room B37-A.

What type of work do students do?
Account executives complete various types of PR-related tasks for their client. Work will range from writing news releases and client biographies to planning major events. For more detailed information, visit the Capabilities page.

If I become a client, who would be my key point of contact?
The account executives assigned to your organization will be your go-to point of contact. If any issues arise, contact the account supervisor assigned for that team.

How much time will clients need to spend on PRLab?
For the client/agency relationship to be successful and thrive, both the account team and client need to commit to the process. We look for a minimum of a one-hour weekly call/meeting with the account team, plus a maximum two-day turnaround for feedback on the team’s work. The more time and effort the client invests, the better the results and return on investment.

These are just interns, right? Why all the formality?
PRLab is a public relations agency, not an internship program. PRLab seeks clients with real-world, tangible and measurable projects for the student account teams. If clients are not sure what they hope to achieve out of a PRLab engagement, they may be better served by an intern rather than our PR agency. If you are unsure whether you have a realistic project for PRLab, reach out to Professor Shanler for feedback.

 

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