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What Can You Do With a Public Relations & Advertising Degree?

An Interview with Richie Roesner (CMN '17, '18)

​​​​​You're no doubt passionate about what you're studying, but have you ever felt the pressure of what comes next? Perhaps that pressure comes from creating a plan to ensure you achieve your professional goals. Maybe you're still wondering what career paths are open to you in order to pursue a job that truly excites you. Either way, the alumni of the College of Communication are here to help you! This series of alumni interviews will showcase various careers you might want to pursue after graduation.

Let these alumni experiences guide you in using your ambitions and DePaul education to achieve success in the working world. 

The following is our interview with alumnus Richie Roesner: 

Richie Roesner

My name is Richie Roesner, and I am a senior PR manager at Walker Sands Communications, a public relations firm specializing in technology communications. In my position, I serve as the day-to-day leader on five accounts, developing and executing PR strategies for clients in various industries including cybersecurity, data management, marketing technology, customer experience and financial technology.

Prior to joining Walker Sands Communications, I worked at Hill + Knowlton Strategies, a global communications firm. At Hill + Knowlton, I supported the communications operations of businesses in the B2C and B2B spaces, with several global clients including Angostura Aromatic Bitters, Aflac and Mazda.

I am a proud graduate of DePaul University, where I graduated with my master's degree in 2018 and my bachelor's degree in 2017, both in public relations and advertising.

When I'm not at the office, you can find me perfecting my newest home brew, playing a round of golf or crushing a rendition of "Mr. Brightside" at karaoke.

Who is your current employer, and what is your current position?

I currently work at Walker Sands Communications as a senior public relations manager.

What was your journey to your current employment?

During my time at DePaul, I was fortunate to hold several internships. Many of these internships were made possible due to the support of DePaul's professors. Following my undergraduate career, I graduated with an offer to join Hill + Knowlton Strategies as an intern, eventually receiving a full-time offer. After four years at Hill + Knowlton, I was contacted by a recruiter at Walker Sands with an offer to join the company as a senior PR manager. I joined Walker Sands in May 2021.

What does a typical day of work look like for you?

It is difficult to describe a “typical day" as a PR manager, largely because no two days are truly the same. However, there are elements of the job that define the day-to-day experience of my role. Namely, in my position, I develop and execute PR plans. This is a multi-step process that is never truly done. Rather, we refer to these plans as “living documents," meaning they are constantly evolving.

These plans often consist of pitch strategies designed to capture the attention of journalists. After the development of these plans, I work with my teams to implement them. This includes supervising my colleagues in the development of pitches, scheduling and coordinating interviews and email Q&As stemming from media inquiries and monitoring the news for trends that my clients can speak to.

As a PR professional, your mind and knowledge of the world is the greatest asset you have, so it is imperative to consistently follow the news and understand trends that your clients can speak to. By staying on top of trends and connecting with the journalists talking about them, your likelihood to see success for your clients increases exponentially.

What is the most fulfilling part of your current position?

Personally, I think the technology industry is fascinating. If you asked me if I would ever understand the elements of quantum computing or cloud architecture when I was in college, I would have fallen asleep before you finished asking the question. However, when I opened my mind and started to learn about the tech industry, I quickly became more and more interested. While tech PR is certainly not for everyone, I genuinely enjoy learning about these complex subjects. While most people have never heard of the companies I work with, my clients fundamentally affect the way the world works behind the scenes, and I love playing a role in supporting these businesses.

What are the most valuable things you gained from your education with the College of Communication? How have they helped you get to where you are now?

First and foremost, I gained connections that I value to this day. Simply put, in the working world, it is paramount to have a strong professional network. DePaul PRAD professors offer a network that is, in my opinion, second to none. 

Each and every one of my professors cared, and continue to care, deeply about my professional success, and they never hesitated to offer helpful advice whenever I faced a crossroads. DePaul also has a strong alumni network that supports each other when a fellow Blue Demon expresses interest in a new career opportunity.

I would also note that DePaul's College of Communication provided an education that taught me about the importance of business acumen in addition to communications strategy. Even in communications, it is important to understand how any company operations ultimately affect the bottom line, and DePaul's PRAD program taught me how to develop strategic campaigns that also prioritize a business's bottom line.

Is there a College of Communication instructor or professor who left an impact on you? If so, what did you learn from them?

There are too many PRAD professors who left a lasting impact on me to count! Specifically, I would mention (in alphabetical order) Ron Culp, Don Ingle, Matt Ragas and Jill Stewart.

Ron taught me the importance of always putting people first and showing compassion when making decisions as a leader in public relations. Don taught me how to always approach client communications and planning with a truly strategic, creative mind. Matt taught me about the necessity to have a keen understanding of business and the bottom line in an industry in which most people avoid numbers like the plague. And Jill taught me that there is nothing more important than a firm understanding of language and grammar as a public relations practitioner.

Of course, these are not in any way the only lessons these wonderful professors instilled in me during my time at DePaul. Each of the above professors taught me an incredible amount, and I am grateful that I have been able to stay in touch with each of them throughout my professional career.

Is there a specific experience at DePaul as a whole that left a lasting impression on you?

So many of my experiences at DePaul left a lasting impression on me, so it is difficult to specifically call out one experience. Personally, I would recommend getting involved in any form of student leadership that you are passionate about, as my experiences in student leadership directly carried over to my career. During my time at DePaul, I worked as an orientation leader, participated in the leadership team of DemonTHON and served on the executive board of PRSSA. I also went on the Vincentian Heritage Tour spring break trip to Paris due to my student leadership experiences at DePaul, which is a memory that I hold dear to this day (especially because I met my fiancée on that trip)!

What words of advice do you have for current students?

Say yes to new opportunities. 

As I mentioned earlier in this Q&A, if you asked me if I would eventually work in tech PR, I would have said a resounding no. However, my willingness to step outside my comfort zone and try something new led me to where I am now. If you step outside of your comfort zone, you will be amazed at the lessons you learn!