“KEEP YOUR EYES WIDE OPEN. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO PRESENT ITSELF FOR YOU.” – COMMANDER BROOK DEWALT
by Lyndsey Sager
In one of many helpful professional development sessions during the PRSSA National Conference in Philadelphia late last month, I had the opportunity to hear from Commander Brook DeWalt, a Navy public affairs officer with experience as the director of public affairs for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, along with many other positions.
DeWalt’s presentation was about public affairs and, more specifically, public communications, as he likes to call it. He believes public communications is an “all-encompassing” term for the broad field he works in.
When DeWalt first started college, he was a music major who thought he’d be a concert tubaist. Eventually, he switched his major to journalism, and after working in promotions for a movie theater, DeWalt joined the Navy reserves. As a reservist for public affairs, DeWalt worked on basic press releases and edited the “U.S. Navy” magazine. Eventually, he decided to make Navy public affairs his full-time career.
From there, DeWalt has had multiple opportunities to change career paths. At one point, he was a public affairs officer at sea in Japan. Later, he became the director of public affairs for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, the most highly-criticized military facility on the face of the planet.
What does it take to experience a successful career in public affairs?Below, DeWalt provides seven tips for students interested in public affairs, as well as public relations in general:
Also, Kent State has a great resource for learning even more about the field of public affairs. School of Journalism and Mass Communication lecturer Stephanie Smith served around 30 years with the United States government (25 of which with the CIA). To learn more about Smith’s experience, check back Nov. 15 to read her guest post.