Choose Your Own Adventure: Finding the Right PR Career Path for You

Hosted by the New Professionals Section.

This interactive discussion is not currently available. Email the Sections Department to inquire about future availability of this program.

Category: Techniques & Tactics

Join PRSA’s New Professionals Section as we talk with three PR pros from different industries about just a few of the different career paths public relations and communications have to offer. You’ll hear from Ben Butler, APR, founder of Top Hat IMC, on what it was like to start his own PR firm as a new pro, Sean Cartell associate media relations director for the University of Texas, on game day communications and managing media for multiple teams, and Brittney Westbrook, assistant director for marketing communications at The University of Southern Mississippi, on developing strategic campaigns for a university of 15,000 students and more than 120,000 alumni. Learn more about the opportunities out there in independent agency, sports and non-profit PR and how to get started on whichever path you choose.


Ben Butler, APR, founder and client services director, Top Hat IMC

Photo of Ben Butler, APR

Ben Butler, APR, is the founder and client services director for Top Hat, an award-winning marketing communications firm in Pittsburgh. In his past life he served as a public relations guy for a motorsports complex, director of inbound partnerships for an inbound marketing agency and head of communications for a software startup. He’s been named a Top Under 40 Communicator and is Accredited in Public Relations (APR)—a distinction held by less than 20 percent of all practitioners. 

Sean Cartell, associate media relations director, University of Texas Intercollegiate Athletics

Photo of Sean Cartell

Sean Cartell is in his second season as Associate Media Relations Director at the University of Texas. Cartell is responsible for coordinating all media and public relations efforts for the Longhorns’ nationally prominent women’s basketball team. 

Cartell, the 2015 College Sports Information Directors of America Rising Star Award recipient, joined the University of Texas following four and a half years at the Southeastern Conference. At the SEC, he served as the primary media relations contact for baseball, track and field, cross country, and equestrian, as well as the secondary contact for football. He also provided day-to-day oversight of the conference’s Web and social media presences. 

Prior to his work with the SEC, Cartell was assistant director of communications at the University of Florida, where he acted as the primary contact for the school’s nationally prominent volleyball and men’s and women’s track and field programs. His assigned teams won two NCAA Championships and six SEC titles during Cartell’s time in Gainesville. 

Cartell graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2007, earning a B.A. degree in integrated strategic communications with a minor in American studies. Cartell resides in Austin. 

Brittney Westbrook, assistant director for marketing communications, The University of Southern Mississippi

Photo of Brittney Westbrook

Brittney Westbrook fuses a methodical creative process with integrated communications in her position as the assistant director for marketing communications at The University of Southern Mississippi where she is charged with developing campaigns, overseeing social media and video production efforts, and providing oversight for communication materials university-wide. After starting her career as a graphic designer, she has since held positions as creative coordinator and marketing manager before assuming her current role.

Westbrook received a bachelor of fine arts in graphic design and a master of science in public relations from USM. She is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America, Public Relations Association of Mississippi, and the Southern Public Relations Federation, and has received multiple local, state, and regional awards for her work in public relations, advertising, and graphic design.

She enjoys giving back to the next generation of communications professionals at USM through reviewing student portfolios, speaking to classes, and mentoring communications students.

She and her husband, Nathan, reside in Ellisville, Miss. with their children Dakota and Gunner.