About Ronn Richardson: Ronn Richardson is a Public Relations and Digital Marketing Professional with extensive experience in Creative Services and Brand Development. He currently serves as Digital Director for M18 Public Relations in New York City, overseeing the digital and creative team working with clients in high-end real estate, hospitality, and design. Along with this, Mr. Richardson is set to become an Adjunct Lecturer at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies in Spring 2019, where he will be teaching a course on Innovations in Integrated Marketing.
Mr. Richardson attended Clark Atlanta University for his undergrad, where he earned his Bachelor’s of Mass Media Arts with a concentration in Public Relations Management. In 2013, he completed his master’s degree through Georgetown’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program.
[MastersinCommunications.com] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background?
[Ronn Richardson] I attended Clark Atlanta University and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Mass Media Arts with a concentration in Public Relations Management in 2009. While I was in undergrad, I had three internships at PR agencies in Atlanta and decided that upon graduating, I would move back to NYC and pursue entry-level roles at top agencies.
Although jobs in PR were scarce due to the recession, I landed a role at an agency called M Booth and worked with clients like American Express Open, The Kauffman Foundation and The Wharton School of Business. While I enjoyed the experience of working in the communications industry, I quickly realized that I was no longer interested in working in a traditional media relations role.
I transitioned to a position at Weber Shandwick’s NYC office, where I worked with the Global Strategic Media Group to manage the agency’s Scoreboxx client offering which focused on increasing executive equity and visibility. On a regular basis, I identified the most competitive, influential and relevant global scorecards and credentials to help leverage and strategically position C-level executives and companies seeking top honors.
A few months after joining Weber Shandwick, I got accepted into Georgetown’s Master’s program for Public Relations and Corporate Communications. I relocated to Weber Shandwick’s DC office and joined the digital team. I began the program in Spring 2011 and earned a Master’s in Professional Studies in 2013. After graduating, I continued working in the social media and digital space at agencies like APCO Worldwide and Lippe Taylor. I worked on digital projects for brands like Revlon, Elizabeth Arden, IKEA, and BlackBerry.
Currently, I’m the Digital Director at M18 PR, where I oversee the agency’s digital and creative team working with clients in high-end real estate, hospitality, and design. Starting in Spring 2019, I will also be an adjunct lecturer at Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies in the Integrated Marketing Communications program. I will be teaching Innovations in Integrated Marketing.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree in communication, and why did you ultimately choose the Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program at Georgetown University?
[Ronn Richardson] While I was fortunate to acquire meaningful practical experiences in the public relations field, I was eager to further explore educational opportunities that would help me further develop my skill set and position me as a leader in the communications industry. Furthermore, I knew that I would eventually pursue adjunct teaching positions in the future, and having a masters was a prerequisite for obtaining such roles.
When I told a former classmate from Clark Atlanta University I was interested in getting my master’s, she immediately recommended that I consider Georgetown’s program as she was a current student and found the program to be extremely beneficial. After doing some research on the program’s academics, structure and faculty, I decided that it could be a great fit, and I applied. I was intrigued by the program’s dynamic course offerings and notable and successful faculty. I was also considering a few other graduate programs, but Georgetown clearly stood out amongst the competition.
[MastersinCommunications.com] How is Georgetown’s MPS program structured, and what concepts did the program emphasize? What skills and strategies did you learn in your classes, and how did you apply them to course assignments?
[Ronn Richardson] When I was enrolled in Georgetown’s MPS PRCC program, there were core classes (Ethics, PR Planning & Capstone) that every student had to take. In addition, each student could take several electives and create their personalized academic journey. This was appealing to me as I was very interested in the digital, creative and financial classes that were offered.
Strategy, collaboration, creativity, and public speaking were commonplace in every class I took. We were also encouraged to leverage and integrate our past professional experiences and strengths into our individual and group assignments. This was helpful because the program was made up of students who worked in various industries including corporate, agency, government and healthcare.
I was able to incorporate my experience in digital communications and creative strategy into all of the course assignments, but I also challenged myself to think outside of the box and view communications challenges and opportunities from a different perspective. Each semester, I was able to apply these tactics and learn something new along the way. This experience adequately prepared me for the capstone project in my final semester as it was a culmination of everything I learned while in the program.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please describe your experience completing your capstone project? What communication issue or challenge did it address, and what were your primary deliverables (i.e. communications plan, tutorial, video, visual marketing materials, etc.)? What advice do you have for students in terms of successfully completing their project?
[Ronn Richardson] For my capstone project, I decided to merge my personal and professional passions and take on a communications challenge for a startup fashion brand. While most of my peers were working with nonprofit organizations, I wanted to use this experience to help expand my knowledge in the fashion industry and build up my portfolio of experience working with lifestyle brands.
The company I worked with was a new streetwear fashion brand that quickly became popular due to a great deal of celebrity endorsements, guerilla marketing, brand partnerships and social media exposure. While the company was doing well, they were in the process of introducing high-end clothing which was very different from the streetwear clothing they were widely known for.
Their challenge was figuring out how they could communicate their shift in products and price point and attract and retain a new customer base. They also wanted to retain their current client base and communicate that the new product lines were an expansion of the brand and not a desertion of their brand values and identity. My Capstone deliverable was to create a comprehensive communications plan that they could implement to help them navigate this public relations challenge and successfully introduce their new product line.
I worked directly with the Public Relations Manager at my client’s company and we had calls and meetings on a regular basis throughout the duration of the semester. Working with my capstone professor and alumni advisors was extremely beneficial during this process as I was able to share my ideas and work with them on a regular basis to get feedback prior to finalizing my plan. After I successfully completed my capstone and presented to the processor, advisors and classmates, I met with my client and presented the finalized plan.
My advice to students is to select a company that you really have an interest in, regularly check in with your client, utilize your advisors, solicit feedback from your classmates, and most importantly, conduct thorough research.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What key takeaways, experiences, or connections from Georgetown’s PR and Corporate Communications program have you found to be the most helpful for you in your career path?
[Ronn Richardson] The program helped to reinforce the fact that research is the most important element in any communications plan. Despite how great an idea is, if it is not rooted in solid research findings and insights, there’s a chance your campaign could fail and all the work you put into to it would be to no avail.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice would you give students just starting Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program? More broadly, what advice would you give students who are either considering or starting a master’s in communication program, whether it be at Georgetown or another university?
[Ronn Richardson] For students just starting at Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program, I’d say to make the most of every moment and embrace Georgetown’s spirit of community. In addition, choose your electives wisely; connect with and make friends with your classmates; get to know your professors, personally and professionally; regularly attend events; and be an active participant in your classroom conversations and debates.
In general, a master’s program is no easy feat, so those who chose to take that path should really know why they’re doing it and have an idea about what they want to get from the experience before they even begin.
Thank you, Mr. Richardson, for your excellent insights on Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program!