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AU and MWWPR Launch Year Two of Experiential Learning and Diversity Initiative

Pallavi Kumar/Michael Kempner
Pallavi Kumar (BA, SOC 1994), assistant professor and director of the Public Communication Division at the American University School of Communication; Michael Kempner (BS, SOC 1981), founder and CEO of MWWPR

MWWPR, one of the world's largest independent public relations firms, has launched its second-year research and insights program with American University's School of Communication (AU SOC), to better enable its clients to reach the increasingly influential segment of consumers, Generation Z. The program is designed to empower SOC students to think creatively about innovative solutions to the challenges facing brands in today's environment. Unique to MWWPR, this panel will bring true Gen Z perspective to client ideation and programming.

The diverse cohort of fifteen students was selected from over 100 applicants across differing ethnicities, backgrounds and majors, to be representative of the country's changing racial and ethnic makeup.

According to Pew, Gen Z faces an especially uncertain future amid COVID-19 as a generation that was expected to come of age in a strong economy with abundant opportunity and record-low unemployment. Despite being hit particularly hard by the coronavirus crisis, Gen Z remains a key consumer segment for brands to engage – "they are more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation, and they are on track to be the most well-educated generation yet. They are also digital natives who have little to no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones," and spend more time online than any previous generation.

"The increasing prominence of Generation Z in our culture with distinguished purchasing power from previous generations makes them an audience our clients are particularly focused on engaging in new ways," said Michael Kempner, Founder and CEO of MWWPR. "The Z-Suite program will better enable our account teams to create disruptive campaigns for Generation Z, by Generation Z. This group of students will gain real-world experience in the PR industry and provide an entryway for more diverse PR professionals at the entry level."

Each month, the students will receive a series of creative briefs outlining an initiative or challenge of MWWPR's clients, which span several industries including technology, professional services, food and beverage, health and wellness, and retail and consumer goods. The challenge outputs will range from video content to product testing and written long and short form insights. Throughout the course of the program running throughout the fall semester, students will join three courses taught by MWWPR executives in crisis communications, creative content development, and research, insights and analytics, in addition to the regular feedback and mentoring they will receive from MWWPR staff throughout the duration of the program. Students will earn a monthly stipend for challenge completions, and undergraduate participants will have the option to take the program as a one-credit course in addition to payment.

"Z-Suite is exactly the type of program that our students crave - the chance to provide insights to actual client challenges and opportunities as well as network with leading industry professionals," said Pallavi Damani Kumar, assistant professor, Public Communication Division. "We are so grateful to MWWPR and AU Board of Trustee Michael Kempner for bringing this visionary program to the School of Communication."