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Todd Irwin, Managing Director at PR Company, Shares Career Advice and Experience with Communications Students

Students attending the Annual Beckham Lecture were able to speak to professors and Todd Irwin about their future careers in the field of communications

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” were the words Todd Irwin quoted to describe the world today. And, he added, “it was the best of times” for a career in media and communications. “Amazing technology is at our fingertips, but this is surrounded by a growing distrust of information and the media,” he continued.


Photo courtesy of Alyssa Lyman

At the Fall 2018 Beckham Lecture, Todd Irwin, managing director at Zeno Group, presented on how to “Navigate Communications Professions in an Era of #fakenews, #selfies and #equality.” He discussed multiple campaigns that the global communication firm has worked on, including the Netflix New Year’s Eve Countdowns, Jocky Mad Bum and the Intel Drone Light Shows.  

Irwin offered insight and advice to students on how to find the best path for them, and how to incorporate the things you love into your profession. “Public relations was a part of so many of the things that I had already been doing my whole life, which was why PR spoke to me,” Irwin explained. “Communication is essential in every field, and there are so many ways to incorporate it into an area you are interested in. You can work in medicine, sports or technology and use communications.”

Despite all the ways communications can be used, Irwin mentioned some of the difficulties that manifest themselves in the field. “We live in an era of #fakenews,” Irwin explained. “People are losing trust in the media at an alarming rate.” It is not just the news that people are losing trust in, but also media platforms. If this is the reality for media professions, “how do we regain trust?” This is an essential question “ trust is so important to what we do as communicators,” Irwin said.

“Rely on and utilize the people who are most trusted in our society: technical experts and academic experts,” Irwin said. He emphasized the immediate need for trust when he said, “Trust is a forward indicator. We constantly need to be looking for the people and platforms that people trust in ”


Irwin offered advice for students looking to enter the work field: selfies may seem like a form of narcissism, but self-branding is essential to cultivate your brand online. He said, “Take every opportunity you can to gain experience. Go horizontal and then start to specialize.” When asked how students can do this effectively, Irwin replied “Get into a job and try everything. Find out what you really like.”

Erika Ohki, a current sophomore who is deciding between Advertising and News Media, said she came because she was “interested in knowing what careers are available as a communications student and what path to take.” Many other students also came hoping to learn what they can be doing now to find a path they enjoy within the field. Irwin spoke to this when he said, “Internships are essential—they helped me see what I wanted to do within this profession. Internships will help students find what they love and gain fundamental skills that can only be gained on the job.” Irwin also mentioned that internships were one of the first things he looked at when considering resumes as a current employer. “If a resume has more than one internship, that will be the resume that we examine closely.”

Irwin recommends that students broaden their experience and suggests the same thing needs to happen within the workplace. As companies are trying to reach broader markets, it is essential that the field of communications welcomes a more diverse workplace. Alexa Torgersen, a communications studies major, said, “The most interesting thing I learned was that there needs to be more diversity in the workplace. I hadn’t considered some factorssuch as age.”

“Do it. Look for places you can volunteer and introduce yourself,” Irwin advised as he closed his remarks. “Be selective in what you put your time to, but find ways to get as much experience as you can.”