The Capstone Communications Laboratory, known as CapComm Lab, is designed to provide an opportunity for students to gain practical experience through a course that functions like a student-run strategic communications firm. The course is taken by advertising and public relations students, and it emphasizes planning, developing, implementing and evaluating strategic campaigns for a paying client. CapComm Lab provides a rigorous professional-level challenge for students entering the business world or pursuing graduate education. CapComm Lab also provides students with the opportunity to stock their portfolios with real-world examples of their best creative works and examples of their strategic thinking skills.
Created in 1990, CapComm Lab is the capstone course for the strategic communications sequence within Howard University’s Department of Strategic, Legal and Management Communication. It is taken by upper-level advertising and public relations students who have successfully completed the critical required advertising and public relations courses. CapComm Lab instructors personally recruit entities to participate the CapComm Lab. Clients range from for-profit and nonprofit businesses; local, state and federal government agencies as well as internal Howard University entities. Regardless of the type of client, each brings real world challenges for students to address. CapComm Lab students then provide a number of services including, but not limited to, market and audience research; advertising, publicity and social media campaigns, event planning and media relations. Clients pay a modest fee for the services, and discounts are available for startups and small businesses.
How CapComm Works
At the start of each semester, the instructor introduces each client and their strategic communications challenge or opportunity to students. Instructors then provide students the opportunity to select their team role and a client to service for the semester. Students’ roles include account executive, assistant account executive, public relations director, copywriter, social media manager and art director. The students also receive lectures and guidance from top-notch strategic communications firms that join the class as the team teach firm, which offers students real world insights into their selected roles, trends in the industry and ways to service their clients.
After research and multiple discussions, CapComm Lab students provide each client with a full-scale strategic communications plan designed to meet objectives and target specific audiences. After the faculty member and the client approve the plan, the team moves forward with its execution. The team submits written weekly reports of its progress to the client and maintains constant communication with the client through the account executive, ensuring consistency with the established objectives. At the end of every semester, faculty and clients evaluate each team based on their ability to meet plan objectives.
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