New partnership helps IPR students get a leg up in the job market

Online certification bolsters credentials

| Author: Aaron Mills | Media Contact: Aaron Mills

Central Michigan University’s Integrative Public Relations program is keeping pace with the ever-evolving media landscape thanks to a new partnership that’s proving to be a differentiator for graduates.

“The (CMU IPR) program is awesome, the internship experiences you get through the IPR program are awesome. But, there’s only so much that can be taught in the classroom,” said Nikki Little, CMU alum and senior vice president for Detroit-based integrated communications agency Franco.

Over the past two years, Little said she and the team at Franco have completely reimagined their approach to communications using something called the PESO Model™. She said the model has helped the company see the value of all their communications efforts – paid, earned, shared and owned – so the entire team better understands how everyone’s job duties impact those efforts.

After seeing its value firsthand, the team at Franco approached CMU’s IPR department with a proposal: To bolster curriculum by covering the cost of the PESO Model certification.

“We thought, why don’t we offer some scholarships to some students and see if this (training) would work for them,” said Little.

Kylie Rydjord was one of the first students to benefit from the new partnership.

“As someone who was rounding the corner for graduation, I was enticed by any opportunity to put myself ahead of recent graduates who would soon be entering the public relations industry,” said Rydjord, a December 2022 graduate who is now an account executive for a strategic communications agency in Michigan. “I was able to take the concepts I learned and apply them to conversations with industry professionals.”

To date, 19 CMU students have earned the PESO Model certification, and another 24 students are working on the certification this semester – something IPR department fixed-term faculty member Jim Wojcik says is highly valued by employers.

“At our internship fair last November, one employer told me, ‘If somebody’s resume shows up on my desk that says they have PESO training, that’s an automatic interview,’” Wojcik said. “A second one told me, ‘If your students are getting PESO, you make sure I know who they are when they’re looking for jobs.’”

And as long as IPR students see value in the PESO Model certification, Franco sees value in continuing the partnership.

“We’re happy to continue that investment,” said Little. “For us, it’s not just giving back to the students and supporting them in their transition into the real world and their careers - it’s investing in that next generation of talent.”

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