Public relations capstone class concludes with a campaign competition, making a mark on Birmingham community

Students in UAB’s public relations capstone class worked with six local nonprofits developing campaigns.
Media contact: Yvonne Taunton

pr campaign.2Left to Right: Jay Shropshire, Tehreem Khan, Jacquelyn Shaia, Ph.D., Katiana Banks and Eric-Lamar Burts
Photography: Andrea Mabry
The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s students in the public relations capstone class helped six local nonprofit organizations develop campaigns and concluded with a competition.

Students in the capstone class presented their client campaigns and competed for “2021 Best Campaign,” judged by practicing public relations professionals. Six student-led public relations firms represented community-based nonprofit organizations, which included Cornerstone Ranch, The Fellowship House, Magic City Poetry Festival, Quest Kids Club, South City Theatre and Vinegar.   

“The public relations program is a sequenced curriculum,” said Jacquelyn S. Shaia, J.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of public relations in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Each class in the public relations program, including ethics and leadership as well as an internship, builds on the objective of preparing these students to practice in this field.” 

By the end of the UAB public relations program, students have worked with an actual client to develop and deliver a real-world public relations campaign. 

“This experiential opportunity provides these students with valuable experience in all aspects of the practice of public relations, enabling them to be successful when they graduate,” Shaia said. 

This year, the student-led firm led by Eric Lamar Burts, Katiana Banks, Tehreem Khan and Jay Shropshire won the 2021 Best Campaign for their work with Vinegar, an artist-run and women-led nonprofit organization that supports the arts and artists in the Birmingham area and throughout the state of Alabama. Vinegar champions diversity and specifically works to support artists from underrepresented groups. 

Click here to apply for admission to UAB’s public relations program.

“The work these students did for us has enabled Vinegar to enlarge its footprint and support in order to accomplish our mission,” said Melissa Yes, Vinegar’s co-director and founder. “They designed a campaign that tremendously increased our digital outreach, community outreach and engagement. The students developed a crisis management plan as well as a best practices guide for future grant applications and media contacts, which we very much needed. Their work will allow Vinegar to successfully meet and expand our mission.” 

As part of the capstone class, students work on projects that they can add to their portfolios and compete both in the state and nationally. 

“I am beyond proud of these students,” Shaia said. “The hard work by each team truly prepares them for success and provides valuable contributions to our community and state.”

To learn about UAB’s public relations, please visit the UAB Department of Communication Studies’ website.