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Professor Kirk Hazlett - Public Relations
On a bright afternoon, Kirk Hazlett snaps a photo showcasing the beauty and activity of the Curry College campus - flags gently flowing in the Academic Quad, students waving to friends and traveling to class. This is a familiar scene during any season. You could also say that the pic and its eventual sharing on social media by Professor Hazlett (Communication) is a common occurrence as well.
Social media has become a critical part of the Public Relations curriculum at Curry, a concentration that Hazlett oversees, and knows he needs to represent authentically.
"I wrote a blog post for a friend down in Washington, D.C. and it's called, 'Walk the walk, talk the talk' and that applies here. If I'm going to stand in front of the classroom and tell students about the importance of using social media for public relations, I better be able to show them that I'm using it and using it well," says Hazlett.
Professor Hazlett believes that if he talks about social media and the important role it plays in communication and PR solely from the book, he's not as effective - and considering how fast the tools and platforms change, he's probably right.
"I'd be just a parrot sitting up there copying what people say."
Social media has become a game changer in PR, and Hazlett draws from his extensive experience in the PR field and with social media and passes those nuggets of wisdom on to the students he mentors.
"In the old days we had some degree of control over who was seeing our message and how the message was getting out. It doesn't work that way anymore. The news is out there and moving quickly. If you're in PR you don't have a choice, you have to be using social media proactively to get your message out and you have to be monitoring the conversation to see what people are saying about you."
One of the ways Hazlett weaves experiential learning into his classroom is by having his students participate in Tweet Chats, usually with guests from the industry (one such chat was led by a PR professional in Delhi, India) and sometimes with Curry alumni working in the field. These chats give his students the chance to communicate on Twitter succinctly and professionally (with real stakes and with people from around the globe,) and to learn first-hand from experts who are trendsetters at what they do.
"Students are discovering that if they engage in these conversations and learn about social communication measurement, they will know how to brand themselves online, and how to communicate with customers, and be able to show their bosses how their efforts are moving the needle."
Another way Hazlett extends learning outside of the classroom is through his involvement with the Curry College Public Relations Students Association (CCPRSA). Hazlett serves as the faculty advisor to the organization on campus, whose purpose is to increase knowledge of the public relations profession and to provide students with opportunities and skills for the future.
On a recent night, CCPRSA invited a group of Curry alumni currently working in the communication/PR field back to campus to share their experiences.
"That's something that I love about our program here. Alums are willing to come back because they had a positive experience here. I've spoken to many of them who have said, 'I got to where I am today because of Curry' - and as a professor that feels great."
Hazlett has been teaching at Curry College for over ten years, after a circuitous path here, including a number of unique experiences which took him half way around the globe and back. From teaching English as a second language to people in Vietnam, to doing public affairs as a civil servant for the United States Army, to serving as communication director for the Blood Bank of Hawaii - Hazlett has nearly 40 years of PR experience under his belt.
He serves on the Public Relations Society of America's Board of Ethics and Professional Standards and on PRSA's Educators Academy Board of Directors, In addition, he is Chair of the Boston Chapter, PRSA, Faculty Forum, where he works with PR faculty in the Boston area to discuss what's current in the industry and to share interesting classroom ideas and tips.
It must be all working. Ask any one of his students - past or present - and they'll tell you that his classroom is never boring.
You get a sense of this energy when talking with Hazlett about his favorite part of teaching at Curry.
A beaming Hazlett says that "It's when I see a light go on in somebody's eyes while I'm up in the front of the room ranting and raving, and I see somebody light up with an "OH!" The next thing I know they're asking to talk to me after class. 'How can I get involved in this?' they'll ask. And I know then they've realized that PR is a possible avenue for them, and most importantly, I know I've helped them find that one thing."
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