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Nonprofit Blood Runs Thick: A Kirk Hazlett Profile

Posted At: January 27, 2012 3:30 AM
by Emily Diab

Kirk Hazlett can be considered a true hero in the world of nonprofit public relations. Among the many areas of public relations he has experienced, his role in nonprofit is perhaps the most inspiring. With more than 35 years of professional PR experience, Hazlett offers his secret to success – having passion for what you do.

“Passion” is a word sometimes overused or underrated. But when used appropriately, it is the perfect characteristic and job qualification to ensure personal and organizational success.

In public relations, the basic job requirements are easy to come by. Students and practitioners alike all learn the basic skills required for any entry-level position: writing, communication and relationship development. Although these skills are essential, it’s what an employee can provide beyond those skills that makes him stand out. Simply doing your work is not enough. You must enjoy it.

Hazlett wrote in a blog, “And that’s the ‘secret’ to success in this life . . . enthusiasm for what you’re doing and pride in what you’ve done.”

Hazlett’s inspirational advice comes from years of experience while looking for his niche in the PR world. After working in government public relations for a while, he discovered his place in nonprofit PR.

“It was a simple matter of finding an area of the PR profession that really resonated personally within me,” he said.

Hazlett found a special passion for nonprofit PR during his career at the Blood Bank of Hawaii.

“I was able to see firsthand how we were helping and who we were helping in terms of literally saving lives,” he said.

While catering to his passion by saving lives and helping individuals, Hazlett was still able to apply his public relations skills to support the nonprofit organization he loved. A particular success story displays his effective combination of passion and skill.

A Blood Bank of Hawaii success story

A young high school student fell ill on the night of her senior prom. Her mother rushed her to the hospital, later to discover she had a severe form of leukemia. Her body required donated platelets to survive, but she was ultimately expected to face fatality. With only six months to live, she began treatments at the Blood Bank of Hawaii.

Miraculously, the treatments of donated platelets saved her life. A young woman who was expected to die was given the gift of life because of a small nonprofit organization. A number of healthy years later, she joined Hazlett in saving other lives by telling her story.

Kirk Hazlett found his organization in a desperate position, with the need to increase blood platelet donations by 200 percent. Hazlett combined his public relations skills with his passion for helping people in order to make the grand changes his organization needed.

Hazlett used his persuasive and strategic public relations skills by sharing this special story to gain the help his organization needed. He used her success story as a recruiting tool, which in turn, generated an even larger success story for the organization. Using the simple tactic of storytelling, he reached out to any audience who would listen.

“It was a home run in all aspects. In the first year, we grew platelet donations by 98 percent. . . . We were able to really cut to the heartstrings to everyone we were talking to. We hit the right buttons all the way through,” Hazlett reflected.

The Blood Bank of Hawaii saw great success after simply telling a story. How did it work? The art of persuasion is a skill that many public relations practitioners must learn. A compelling story or convincing message can be a useful tool in the practice of persuasion, and Hazlett proved this to be true with his successful strategy. By exuding passion in his story, he gained compassion from the audience.

Today, Hazlett enjoys sharing his stories with students at Curry College as an associate professor of communication. He teaches, lectures and blogs on a variety of PR topics, but his underlying message stays the same: “Passion is key if you really want to make your mark in this world.”

Photo from Curry College

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