During Innovative PR’s successful history, several graduate students gained valuable experience while managing the agency and guiding students through a variety of client projects. Launched in 2009 by Eden Rensing with the help of the UCM Public Relations Program, Innovative PR continues to educate tomorrow’s public relations business leaders. The agency has contributed more than 14,000 hours of service to the UCM community and more than 80 PR majors have earned Innovative PR experience.
In the agency’s eight years of existence, five different managers have overseen operations and provided leadership of PR students. Each manager continued the excellence expected from Innovative PR, while putting their own stamp on the agency. Through the manager position, graduate students are given the opportunity to pursue an MBA as a Graduate Assistant for the UCM PR Program. This opportunity is extremely beneficial for students as they expand their classroom knowledge and leadership experience simultaneously.
The value of Innovative PR is demonstrated by what each manager accomplished and how this experience helped them progress in their professional career. Below are details on each Innovative PR manager, where they are now, and thoughts on their time here. Check it out!
Blake Hedberg: Jan 2017 – Present
Blake Hedberg became the fifth Innovative PR manager in January of 2017, becoming the first undergraduate student to simultaneously manager IPR. In August of 2017, Blake began his pursuit of an Masters in Business Administration while orchestrating IPR operations. During his time with IPR, Blake facilitated IPR’s first out-of-state client, while expanding on current client relationships. Blake worked with IPR advisors to set up a self-sustaining model to fund future Innovative PR semesters and introduced client compensation. He will graduate in May of 2019 and have served as IPR’s manager for five consecutive semesters.
“Innovative PR gave me the opportunity to expand my skill set and build upon my knowledge gained as an undergraduate. The experience as a whole has been extremely beneficial and made me competitive in the job market. There isn’t a better alternative for students in PR Program than Innovative PR and I would challenge each student to join the agency and experience client work outside the classroom.
My managerial experience was the most impactful thing I experienced as a student. Facilitating client projects, supervising groups of students, and reporting to advisors while working in an office setting prepared me for real-world expectations and deadlines. I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for anything.”
Evan Whittaker: May 2015 – Dec 2016
Evan Whittaker become the fourth Innovative PR manager in May 2015 and expanded client work for the agency after serving as an Account Specialist in the Spring 2015 semester. While managing the firm, Evan facilitated IPR’s first off-campus client projects while pursuing an Master of Business Administration in Marketing. Under his management, the firm secured a PRISM Award from the Kansas City Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America in the Integrated Communications category for our work with local documentary, “Together We’re Stronger.”
“Managing Innovative PR provided a fantastic opportunity to hone my management and public relations skills while managing a teams of students serving as Account Specialists. By emulating an agency environment, the students and I worked with a variety of university and off-campus clients.”
Jonathan Haile: May 2013 – May 2015
Jonathan Haile became the third Innovative PR manager in May 2013 and continued to build IPR’s reputation as a successful agency. Jonathan pursued a Master of Arts in Mass Communications/Media Studies while managing the firm for four consecutive semesters. During his time in Innovative PR, Jonathan had a hand in two professional awards IPR has received. As an Account Specialist, Jonathan worked on the #teamUCM project that received recognition from the Kansas City IABC chapter. He also assisted with the “Together We’re Stronger” campaign that received a PRISM Award from Kansas City PRSA chapter.
Jonathan currently serves as the Social Media Manager for Elevation Brands and has since returned to UCM to speak to students on his experiences.
“I think the most unique thing about managing IPR is that you really get a feel for the type of career you want to have. You also find that managing people is challenging, but you get better at it, and creating a culture becomes an interesting facet of the job. I enjoyed developing brands, creating branded content and communicating with clients, which is what I get to do everyday. I definitely feel like our work with “Together We’re Stronger” moved IPR forward and opened up exciting possibilities.”
Dani Myers: May 2011 – May 2013
Dani Myers became the second Innovative PR manager in May 2011, continuing the successful foundation Eden created. While continuing the work of her predecessor, Dani expanded the agency by creating Innovative PR’s signature event, #teamUCM Social Media Night. This event has become IPR’s most cherished event and gives students excellent experiences with event planning, critical thinking, and strategy development. Dani also developed Innovative PR’s first website while increasing awareness for Innovative PR in the Kansas City market. During her time as manager, IPR won two professional awards which can be found on our “awards” tab at the top of the page.
Dani pursued a Ph.D at the University of Missouri while teaching as an adjunct professor in the UCM PR Program. Currently, she works as an Assistant Professor of Public Relations at Kansas State University while working on several research projects.
Eden Rensing: Jan 2010 – May 2011
Eden is the communications coordinator for Travois Inc. in Kansas City, Mo. She loves her job and is responsible for generating publicity for the Travois family of companies, maintaining all social media channels and planning its yearly national conference. Eden, along with the help of the UCM PR Program advisors, led the team that established the Innovative PR brand and image and launched it as a student-led PR firm in Spring 2010.
“I am convinced my experiences with Innovative PR gave me an advantage over other candidates when interviewing for jobs. The variety of projects I worked on helped me match my experience with job descriptions perfectly. Past helping me land the job, I use skills learned in my daily tasks.”