Story and photos by Vicky Conroy
From the moment I stepped foot in Allen Hall in 2016, I knew I wanted to take advantage of all the opportunities offered there. The UO School of Journalism and Communication has over 30 student organizations, each with its own focus. I saw many of my passions reflected in them and had even joined a few. But I felt there was something missing.
I quickly discovered that one of my greatest passions was multimedia and video production. After completing the Gateway to Media sequence, I registered for J409: Allen Hall Studios, a small experiential learning course taught by Assistant Professor Ed Madison. Even though I was just a sophomore and felt totally unprepared, and in my opinion unqualified, I was accepted to the course and began learning immediately.
The course required students to partner with Portland TriMet in winter 2017 to produce a video. We worked for the entire term producing, shooting, participating in workshops and editing, until we had a finished product to show the client. We developed a lot of valuable skills, including talking to clients to ensure the vision they want is portrayed, interviewing, camera operation and lighting. I loved every second of this course, and I thought maybe it could be something more.
The making of an agency
Maya Lazaro, the SOJC’s faculty advisor for J409, reached out and asked if I would be interested in turning the course into a student-run agency. I immediately said yes. It was the ideal situation for me: a student-run agency where I could use my public relations skills — including writing, strategy, and client communications — while feeding both my passion for videography and my portfolio by producing multimedia projects for real-world clients.
I quickly realized I couldn’t do all this pre-planning alone, so I asked my friend Matty Leech to help. We worked together to organize and plan out what we wanted the agency to look like. Then we crafted promotional emails to send to SOJC students about the new opportunity taking shape in Allen Hall.
Although I was excited for the agency to be up and running, I was honestly terrified that nobody beyond Maya and Matty would show interest. Boy, was I wrong! Our agency is open to all majors within the SOJC, so I knew we could reach a lot of students with a wide variety of skill sets. But I still wasn’t expecting the huge response we received. We had over 150 applicants in one week.
An interview process hadn’t even crossed my mind, but since there were only 24 spots available, we had to narrow down the pool. So Matty, Maya and I started the process of interviewing all our amazing applicants. I don’t just say “amazing” to be nice; I mean that we literally had some of the most talented and inspiring people apply to be a part of the first-ever Allen Hall Media team. All the students seemed so excited to be a part of making the agency into what we wanted it to be.
I struggled during the interview process. A lot. How was I supposed to interview people who were my age, or even older, and decide who to keep and who to disappoint? I knew I wanted this process to be fair, so I had to put my bias and emotions aside and do what was best for the agency. I listened to every piece of advice Maya gave me, and we selected a team of 24 students with the goal of expanding the agency each term.
Fall term is now in full swing, and our staff is participating in workshops each week on a specific topic, such as lighting, photography and editing, to ensure our team is gaining the skills to produce work our clients need. Our producers are learning how to communicate effectively with clients from the initial meeting all the way to delivery of the final product. We are also working on creating our brand. Check out the new logo our talented marketing team created.
The agency is now moving forward with client meetings. Allen Hall Media is working with UO Housing to create two videos promoting academic residential communities for the Building Business Leaders and the Carnegie Global Scholars.
We will also be working with the UO Common Reading program to make a promotional video about the university’s book pick for the 2019-20 season, “Under the Feet of Jesus.”
Lastly, we have partnered with the City of Springfield and the Economic Development Program to produce photography highlighting manufacturing jobs in the community that often go unnoticed.
Allen Hall Media’s website just went live at allenhallmedia.com. Keep an eye out on our social media to see all the amazing work our team will be doing this year!
Vicky Conroy is a third-year undergraduate student in the UO School of Journalism and Communication. She is majoring in public relations and minoring in business administration. Vicky is currently in her second year as the junior events intern for the SOJC Communication Office. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @vickyconroy and at vickyconroy.com.