PR Professional…PR Educator: We All Play in the Same Band

By Kirk Hazlett

One of the fringe benefits of my now decade-long third career—that of Curry College Communication professor—has been the opportunity to introduce young men and women to the profession that has been my passion for closing in now on 50 years: Public relations.

This mini-revelation doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who either on purpose or by some bizarre twist of fate has crossed my path.

I Love Public Relations!

I love what it can do for individuals and organizations. I love how we, as PR professionals can help build relationships that, in turn, enable our clients or employers to succeed in their own mission.

But this happy state of affairs doesn’t just fall out of the sky. It takes human beings who, working together, are able to “translate” thoughts and ideas into meaningful messages and actions.

This thought always reminds me of a song that was the trademark of a PR-related assignment in my Air Force days. I was stationed in the Philippines with a command that had bases scattered all across Asia and the Pacific. We needed to reinforce the concept that all of us, no matter where we were physically located, were part of the same mission. Someone else (as much as I would love to take the credit!) produced a song that we used as an intro to all our briefings wherever we were.

The title?

“We All Play In the Same Band”

Those of us who have been practicing or teaching PR for years/decades understand this. But the unavoidable reality is we’re not going to be around forever. At some point, we’re going to hang up our spurs and turn the reins over to the next generation(s) of PR professionals.

And that’s where you (my in-the-field working colleagues)…and we (your in-the-classroom partners)…join forces.

Working together, we have to lay the groundwork through classroom (hopefully reality-based) education and real-life experience (internships and employment opportunities).

There’s nothing so rewarding for me than seeing the “light” go on in a student’s eyes when he or she realizes that public relations seems both interesting and something he or she might like to do.

Then rises the question in the student’s mind: “How do I figure out if this really is my future?”

The PR Professional and the PR Educator

This is where you (the bass guitar in this union) and I (the rhythm) intersect.

First, after I lay the groundwork with the PR courses that introduce students to the foundations of the PR professional, you offer meaningful internships that ease the eager learner into the day-to-day PR realities.

Then, for those who show potential, you offer opportunities upon graduation to get a first shot at “real life.”

You and I both know that they probably won’t spend the rest of their professional careers with you, but you will have the satisfaction of having opened the door.

My job in this latter stage is to keep tabs on our young up-and-comers. Thanks to the wonders of social media, this is less of a challenge than when I was starting out, and I do my best (without becoming too creepy-stalky) to stay in touch for advice, counsel…gentle discipline.

Our partnership accomplishes two equally-important things.

  1. By sharing our knowledge with these future PR professionals, we ensure the foundations of public relations remain strong.
  2. By providing them with this knowledge and with hands-on learning opportunities that enable them to identify their own strengths and abilities, we ensure our profession will continue to be represented by men and women whose actions will make us proud.

Many of us got where we are today by being independent thinkers and doers. But over time, we recognized that more could be accomplished by joining forces with other like-minded colleagues.

We do, in fact, all play in the same band!

Kirk Hazlett

Kirk, APR, Fellow PRSA, is Associate Professor of Communication (Undergraduate) at Curry College in Milton, MA. Prior to his move into academia, Kirk practiced nonprofit and government public relations and marketing for more than 35 years in the US as well as Asia. Accredited by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Kirk is co-chair of the PRSA College of Fellows Mentoring Committee and has held leadership positions with PRSA Educators Academy and PRSA Northeast District as well as with the Boston and Hawaii PRSA chapters.

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