Lee Bush, Hal Vincent co-author textbook for students participating in student-run agencies
The School of Communications faculty members published “The Student-Run Agency: Transitioning from Student to Professional” to serve as a guide for students to navigate their way through the student agency experience.
Shortly after completing her new book, “The Student-Run Agency: Transitioning from Student to Professional,” Associate Professor Lee Bush posted the textbook’s dedication – shown below – on social media.
"Dedicated to the many students who have come through the doors of our student agencies and gone on to become accomplished professionals. You inspire us!"
Among the many well-wishers were several former students, including the first student director of Live Oak Communications, the student-run strategic communications agency at Elon University that Bush founded a decade ago.
According to Bush, she penned “The Student-Run Agency” with these aspiring agency professionals in mind, compiling a guide to help today’s students navigate their way through the student agency experience. It is the first textbook geared toward students involved in student-run agencies.
Supported by co-authors Hal Vincent, a lecturer in Elon’s School of Communications, and Jeff Ranta, assistant professor at Coastal Carolina University, Bush based the book’s content on three perspectives: the trio’s years of founding and managing student agencies, their years of professional agency experience, and their extensive research on student agencies.
The book’s 15 chapters examine agency processes and protocols and how to structure and build business for an agency. The chapters also detail program planning and management topics, help students develop a professional identity, and discuss how students can leave a legacy (i.e. promote their work and, ultimately, land a job). Additionally, the co-authors recruited 10 agency professionals to write short articles on best practices in professional agencies, with subjects ranging from social media and branding to video production and media relations. Michele Lashley, an Elon adjunct instructor in communications and owner of The Smarter Writing Lab, authored a piece on copywriting.
“It’s essentially an account management handbook for anyone who wants to go into the agency business,” Bush said. “There is great information for them. It will help the students see how agencies work, to see how they build business, how they bill, and the business side of advertising and public relations. It’s inside information on how to be a professional and what it takes to work at agencies.”
Published by Kendall Hunt, the textbook can serve as both a comprehensive text for agencies run as a class for credit as well as a convenient resource tool for students as issues emerge, Bush noted.
“If the students are working on a social media program, they can flip through the book and find the professional article on social media content marketing,” Bush said. “If they face legal issues in their work, they can read the legal chapter. There’s content to cover any issues they might encounter.”
While student agencies have been around for more than a half-century, it wasn’t until the last decade that they have “taken off,” Bush pointed out. In fact, more than half of the 150 student agencies at colleges and universities in the United States have formed in the past 10 years.
When the School of Communications established Live Oak in 2007, Bush realized there were little to no resources available for student agencies and their members. “Each time the students worked on a new type of program that they hadn’t had a class on yet, we had to find materials for them. There weren’t any comprehensive resources available,” Bush said. “I’ve seen a need for a book like this since the day I founded Live Oak.”
As a result of her own research, Bush has published numerous works highlighting how successful and longstanding student agencies are structured. She’s also conducted research on how agencies benefit a school’s curriculum, as well as students’ careers. The new text addresses these topics, while also providing an easy-to-consume overview of the public relations and advertising industry.
“It’s the right time for this book,” Bush said. “It confirms the legitimization of student agencies as a critical part of any advertising, PR, or strategic communications curriculum. And it’s exciting because this book is everything that the three of us thought was missing, or thought that students needed more help on. It’s all in the book.”
Vincent, who succeeded Bush as Live Oak’s faculty director in 2014 shares Bush’s enthusiasm for the new publication.
“The opportunity to finally codify what we attempt to instill through experiences each and every semester with hundreds of students is very rewarding,” Vincent said. “The student agency model and this book provide students with practical methods for transitioning from student to professional. I think it might be every teacher’s dream to share with others their ups and downs and contribute to effective experiential learning for as many students as possible.”
Bush first met coauthor Ranta while conducting research on student agencies in 2007. Before becoming an assistant professor at Coastal Carolina, Ranta was the founder of The Carolina Agency, a student-run communications firm in the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications. During Ranta’s 12-year tenure, the agency earned several national championships in public relations and business communications. He is currently launching a new student agency, Teal Nation, at Coastal Carolina.