BY MEGAN MANN
FOR THE OBSERVER
The Oaks Agency is Auburn University’s student-run public relations agency.
The business started with a vision to give Auburn’s PR students real world experience that surpassed what they could learn in classes or through an internship.
In 2019, the Oaks Agency’s advisor, Terri Knight, started meeting with a group of students and touring similar programs at other colleges to figure out how to make it happen on Auburn’s campus. This group spent the year branding and developing a model of what they wanted the firm to look like. In 2020, the Oaks Agency officially opened applications.
Alyssa Turner is a senior at Auburn that has been with the agency since it began. She has worked her way up from general member to firm director.
“My main duty is to manage the firm’s overall operations by overseeing our members, committees and clients,” Turner said. “Most importantly it is my job to exercise social responsibility, to create a beneficial and efficient environment for learning, growth and fellowship amongst our members.”
When Turner began working at the agency, it had one client and 20 members. Since stepping into her leadership position, it has expanded to nine clients and 42 members.
The agency’s nine clients are all based out of Auburn and Opelika. They are Autosport Bodyworks, Vinyl Guys, Build-a-Bride, Southern Crossing, Rock’n’Roll Pinball, Amsterdam Café, Toomer’s Drugs, Auburn Public Relations and Auburn School of Communication and Journalism.
The agency bases its business off four different values — honesty, innovation, loyalty and dependability — when it comes to serving its clients.
“We really try to tailor our services to our clients’ needs but we usually use the general term of earned media because that is really what public relations is all about,” Turner said. “This could be social media needs, website redesign and management, getting hits and features in news outlets, organizing events, trying to partner with other business. It really just comes down to what the client needs, and we are there trying to achieve that goal for them.”
Recently, the Oaks held its first formal event for one of its clients that the Auburn community is familiar with, Toomer’s Drugs. It was a puppy event to display the items Toomers offers for dogs that the public may not be aware of. It also had the event with the goal of establishing a better relationship between Toomer’s and the community.
“Toomers has never had a public event before and we were really wanting to initiate their presence in the community, Toomer’s is seen very much as a face of Auburn it is very well known but we have never seen them serve the Auburn community and say we’re here to be a part of the community also,” Turner said.
Throwing its first event was a big goal accomplished for the agency. Other than gaining eight new clients in the last year, the agency has also tackled a major obstacle by becoming an official student organization on Auburn’s campus.
The Oaks Agency has another goal that it has set its sights on: striving to reach national affiliation status.
“There is an overarching society called public relations student society of America,” Turner said. “We have a branch for them on campus that we call War Eagle PR, but for our branch to win any awards we must become nationally affiliated. We are now within our one-year existence so we can start the application process. That is our long-term goal. Our short-term goal is to keep encouraging new members to join and to keep facilitating these beneficial relationships between students and clients and the community.”
For more information about the Oaks Agency, you can visit its website at www.theoaksagencyau.com, email the agency at email@example.com or follow it on Instagram or Facebook at The Oaks Agency.