Put an agency spin on it

Rebecca Hapeman

Have you ever tried to promote an idea or an organization, only to realize that you are inadvertently creating buzz for another one and not your own? This nearly happened to DMCA, the newest – and I dare say coolest – student gig on campus. We learned that our selected name, DMC (Digital Media Consultants) had a peculiar similarity to the already established DMZ (Digital Media Zone) group here at The Mount. What to do? Well, you do what any other PR firm would do: you roll up your sleeves and you put an “agency” spin on it – and that is precisely what we did.

The Digital Media Consulting Agency kicked off in the fall of 2017. This volunteer program was born out of the idea to celebrate the 40th anniversary of our acclaimed Public Relations and Communications Programs, not only here on campus, but within the community of Halifax as well. We are a student-led initiative, comprised of five undergraduate PR and communications majors with a graduate student advisor and faculty support. Ever wonder how you could join a group like this?

I got involved simply by responding to an email call out for volunteers. The email came at a busy time (as they often seem to), just as the first round of midterms were rolling out and the feeling of first semester “grab-the-holy-shit-handles” was setting in. I was still coming to terms with the jarring reality that I was back in school, so like anyone may have done, I neatly filed the email away in my mental “take a look at later” folder. I find this to be a good approach most of the time as it allows ideas to percolate and either resurface as something I really want to pursue, or not.

The idea of applying for this extracurricular activity naturally came with many questions. What would it be like? Who would be part of this “secret society”? Would I know anyone? Would I fit in? What would I gain from this? And of course, being fully immersed in first semester with eyes wide open to the unrelenting list of projects, essays, assignments, midterms and more midterms – perhaps the most prominent question: would I have time to juggle all of this?

Taking myself down from my comfortable “I can’t” ledge, I thought: why wouldn’t I get involved? Aren’t I here to learn and dive into something that will give me real life experiences to pair with my learning? I’ve done enough aptitude and personality testing in my day to know that hands-on learning works for me. Theory is interesting, but it never quite sticks unless I can see how it lives out in the real world.

After inner pep-talk success, I opened the email and read through the application details. In typical Reba fashion, I missed the deadline! Reba is my alter-ego, who doesn’t always get everything quite right, but certainly keeps things interesting! Thankfully, Reba willfully ignored the missed deadline, wrote the snappiest of self-introductions, said a few Hail Marys, and left it to the PR Gods to determine.

It turns out that deadlines are often merely guidelines, so fortunately I made the cut. A tip for all you procrastinators out there: send it in anyways! I’m officially part of the DMCA team, and I can confidently say that it’s not a committee to be a committee – it is the real deal! Each week, we are tasked with unique ways to apply knowledge acquired through theory in the classroom. Whether it be through research, brainstorming sessions, problem solving, decision making, customizing communication for different media, group discussions contributing to teamwork, leading, supporting, listening, creating meaningful exchanges – through it all we are applying critical thinking and refining our skills for the real world.

Since forming our team in early October, we have covered a lot of ground in our weekly meetings. First, focusing on our own brand, we formalized our mandate and vision. We are incredibly lucky to have such amazing faculty support and experts in the field to consult with. It is amazing to get to learn from those who once sat where we are now, and to know exactly what we need to know to be successful once we cross the convocation finish line.

Very soon, DMCA will launch our very own digital home page on the MSVU website. Stay tuned for details about this in upcoming weeks, as well as an exciting digital media initiative that is fun for the whole campus!

In hindsight, adding the “Agency” to our name was a really good call. We are getting experiential learning, acting as a real-life consulting agency that provides tangible recommendations to make a difference in our community! How cool is that? The primary goal of our group is to create and launch a digital media plan for a community partner.

This year, we are working with Hope Blooms, an organization with a student-run community garden in the North End that produces and sells salad dressings. They use profits to invest in a scholarship fund for underprivileged youth. As a group, we’ve had the chance to spend time with Hope Blooms to understand their objectives, goals and initiatives. They are more than just salad dressing people! They are a huge heart in the North End with community outreach programs that help to eradicate poverty and hunger in the city. We’re excited for the opportunity to work with them and contribute to their incredible success.

Over the next few months, we will continue meeting with Hope Blooms to collaborate and create a formal digital media communications plan. We are excited to be able to help them reimage their brand to expand their following, grow strategic relationships, and continue their outreach within the community.

I am very glad I sent my application in to DMCA (however late)! I didn’t know anyone, but I’ve made some new friends – like the Breakfast Club, with our disparate qualities, we all seem to fit together. We are learning so much from our work together and it is a lot of fun. The moral of the story is that a last-minute name change and a last-minute application are not the end of the world – things always work out. If there is one thing Reba has taught me, life is more interesting when you have fun and just go with it.