- Ph.D., University of Minnesota (Mass communication)
- M.A., University of Minnesota (Communication studies)
- B.S., Valley Forge Christian College (Theology)
- Associate professor, Charles H. Sandage Department of Advertising, College of Media
- Graduate faculty, Institute of Communications Research, College of Media
- Introduction to public relations
- Public relations writing
- Advanced public relations
- Social media and public relations
Wirtz received a Ph.D. in mass communication in 2009 from the University of Minnesota. His studies there focused on how theories of human behavior (primarily grounded in psychology) can help us better understand how exposure to mass media content influences our thoughts and behavior. After completing his Ph.D., Wirtz was assistant professor at Texas Tech University for three years, before joining the Department of Advertising at the College of Media this fall.
Prior to attending graduate school, Wirtz worked for 11 years in a number of positions with public relations and marketing responsibilities. He worked for six years at an international NGO in donor relations and event planning. He also worked for five years directing fund raising, alumni relations and marketing efforts at two universities in the Midwest.
Wirtz’s research focuses on the intersection of interpersonal communication and mass media content. More specifically, Wirtz is interested in how conversation influences how individuals respond to ads—what they remember about the ads, how they evaluate the ads and whether they are more or less likely to take action on recommendations in the ads—based on the type of conversations they have prior to and while viewing the ads.
Wirtz also has an applied component to his research, as he also studies how to make mass media health campaigns more effective and culturally relevant. An example here is a recent research project involving adult Hispanics that tested different styles of presenting information about healthy eating habits and the importance of regular moderate exercise.
Wirtz’s research has appeared in Public Relations Journal, Psychological Science, Human Communication Research, and Communication Studies.