December 3, 2012
Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, is an associate professor of communication at Curry College in Milton, Mass., and a visiting lecturer in organizational and professional communication at Regis College in Weston, Mass.
Prior to academia, Hazlett practiced nonprofit and government public relations and marketing for more than 35 years in the United States and Asia. He is a member of PRSA’s Board of Directors and has held leadership positions in the Educators Academy, the Northeast District, and the Boston and Hawaii Chapters.
As the year winds down, Hazlett reflects on 2012. “We have seen challenges that have tarnished our reputation in the public’s eye — PR firms helping promote tyrannical governments, for example,” he says. “And we have seen our own Society introduce and initiate the MBA Initiative that incorporates PR education into graduate-level business degree programs, ensuring that future business leaders will have a greater appreciation for the value of public relations to their overall success.”
Name: Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA
To be a forest ranger — probably an early warning sign of my eventual life as a PR professional — scanning the environment, spotting potential fires and taking immediate action to stop them before they spread!
What changed (i.e. how you became interested in public relations):
I spent eight years in the Air Force after college and had an unanticipated opportunity to discover my passion.
First public relations job:
After my first tour in Vietnam, I was assigned to an air base in Georgia as an audiovisual media specialist for the film library. I got the idea of writing for the base newspaper promoting our films and equipment.
What you know now that you wish you’d known then:
What I was doing for that film library was public relations — specifically media relations and community relations. I thought it was just something Southerners did!
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received:
“Never stop learning." My sophomore English Lit professor saw me standing in the hallway between classes doing nothing as usual. He grabbed me by the nape of the neck, jerked me into his office and shoved a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” into my hands with the words (paraphrased after nearly 50 years), “I don’t ever want to see you standing around without a book in your hands…never stop learning.” I’ve been an avid reader and learner ever since.
Greatest professional accomplishment:
Having been able to introduce hundreds of young men and women to the profession that has been my life’s passion and see them start their own careers
If you weren’t in public relations, you would be:
A jazz pianist playing in a smoky, bluesy, tiny nightclub in Saigon
For my students to say, “Kirk helped me understand how I can use my public relations skills to make the world a better place”
Make a “business case” for public relations:
We have seen business leaders who have chosen not to seek their PR counsel’s guidance. Public relations can help an organization build and nurture relationships with key constituencies that will pay dividends should a catastrophe or bump in the road occur. Advertising can never accomplish this.