Central Communication Agency (CCA) may be relatively young, but its inception and creation called for remarkable efforts from both Central Washington University (CWU) faculty and students. What started as a practicum experience by three Public Relations students quickly become a full-service, student-run strategic communication agency that has a staff of nearly 40 students serving 6 clients quarterly.
In May 2011, Professor Elizabeth Kerns spearheaded the efforts to get CCA off the ground by enlisting a group of Public Relations students to take on a client from the Ellensburg, Wash. area. Kayti Castellano (Class of 2012), Liz Glavish (Class of 2013), and Heidi Merz (Class of 2012) spent several weeks analyzing, planning, and creating a full public relations proposal for the owner of a local real estate company. After the final proposal was presented to the owner, the three students became the founders of CCA and cemented the first official client of the agency.
With the founding members success fueling the fire, CWU’s Communication Department opened the agency as a practicum class for the Fall 2011 quarter. This allowed students to earn elective credit toward their major or minor. In its first official academic quarter, 4 clients from the Ellensburg community were taken on pro-bono, and the Associate Account Executives and Senior Account Supervisor positions were introduced. Over the course of the 2011-2012 academic year, CCA’s popularity rose both on and off campus. Clients each quarter ranged from the local Ellensburg Children’s Activity Museum to the agency’s first national client, Sygnifi Networks, Inc. Students produced work from every level tactics to market research and social media planning to large-scale events.
At the start of the Winter 2013 quarter, CWU formally recognized CCA as its own course. COM 481 (2 credits) and 483 (3 credits) were introduced as Central Communication Agency and Advanced Central Communication Agency, respectively. In the 2012-2013 academic year, CCA also implemented a hierarchy with executive leadership and appointed Sara Melton (Class of 2013) as the first Agency President. This year also brought forth the inclusion of CCA on the CWU’s Student Media Board, alongside other established campus media outlets such as The Observer, Pulse Magazine, and NewsWatch.
In May 2013, Hailey Nelsen was interviewed and hired by the Student Media Board as the 2013 – 2014 Agency President. Additional senior leadership positions have been added including a Vice President of Human Relations and Professional Development position in September 2013, Vice President of Digital Media in March 2014 and Vice President of Recruitment and External Outreach.
One of the priorities for CCA is preserving continuity within the student leadership and maintaining institutional knowledge once students graduate. Once a student who has served in CCA leadership has graduated from CWU, they are placed on the Central Communication Agency Advisory Council and are made available to the current leadership as an ongoing resource.
With each year bringing more success to Central Communication Agency, the potential for growth is unlimited. Having joined the ranks of CWU’s student-run newspaper, magazine, news station, and television channel as an outlet for communication students to practice their craft, CCA hopes to continue making its everlasting mark on campus as well as the Ellensburg community. CCA is currently advised by Professor Emily DuPlessis.
Past Agency Presidents:
- Derek Forsell (Class of 2017) 2017 – Present
- Luke Swartout ( Class of 2017) 2016 – 2017
- Nicolette Bender (Class of 2016) 2015 – 2016
- Robyn Stewart (Class of 2015): 2014 – 2015
- Hailey Nelsen (Class of 2014): 2013 – 2014
- Sara Melton (Class of 2013): 2012 – 2013