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Student ad agency to shut down after failed attempts to raise money

The RealWorld advertising agency will officially close its doors at the end of this month after a final attempt was made to raise money to keep the organization open, the director of the program said.

Director Claudia Butts said there was an overwhelming amount of support from the community and the programs’ beneficiaries, but none of them were capable of contributing the $100,000 needed to keep the operation going, Butts said.

“The reality is that the university was faced to make budget cuts in all departments, and unfortunately our program fell into that cut,” Butts said.

Mark Mourer, assistant dean for development for the College of Communication, said that because so many of RealWorld’s beneficiaries are nonprofit organizations, they were in no financial position to donate money.

“I went to the Funding Information Center in Fort Worth and spoke to other individual organizations that were facing the same problem to try to find answers, but the answer is that this economy is making it very tough for any organization seeking additional funding,” Mourer said.

Jennifer Campbell, a senior advertising/public relations major, works for RealWorld and said she is disappointed that future students won’t have an opportunity to work for the agency.

“The RealWorld is responsible for getting me my job and other students won’t have that edge that I did when entering the work force,” Campbell said. “It’s also dissapointing because the Schieffer School is predominantly made up of advertising and public relations students … and the Schieffer School continues to expand The Skiff and NewsNow but could not help keep RealWorld open.”

A $5.6 million project, the construction of a converged newsroom and other updates for the Daily Skiff and NewsNow is expected to be completed before the fall semester. The RealWorld agency is a beneficiary of the Vision in Action Grant; however, the grant expires at the end of this year and the Schieffer School was not capable of funding the program, Mourer said.

“We had a very short timeline to solicit foundations for donations and sometimes that process can take up to a year before you get any response,” Mourer said. “We were really up against the gun time-wise.”

Mourer said alumni working in the corporate office of Wal-Mart liked the RealWorld program, but couldn’t save it.

“We walked a general report by their foundation office but they were funding similar programs and were unable to fund the program,” Mourer said.

RealWorld advertising agency is the only student-run agency in the U.S. that works exclusively with nonprofit organizations, Mourer said.

“The mission of this program made it unique and spoke well of the sincerity of the student’s community involvement,” Mourer said.

The program was successful and its directors hope that the portfolios and experience the students received allow them to gain employment during these hard economic times, Mourer said.

Butts said she loved the students she worked with and their dedicated work ethic.

“I just hope that one day the program can reopen and become a permanent organization on campus,” Butts said.

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