Member Profile: Hatti Hamlin
Meet our members! We will periodically feature veteran and new PRSA San Francisco members, and tell the story of their public relations career. If you would like to suggest a PRSA San Francisco member for a profile, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hatti Hamlin, APR, Fellow PRSA
Why did you join PRSA and what is one of your favorite benefits that the organization provides?
I joined PRSA about 6 years into to my career, after hearing from many of my mentors that it was a great organization. I have met some of my favorite friends and colleagues through PRSA. I've attended many national conferences and really enjoyed all of them-at any stage of my career there was always something to learn. At various points in my life, PRSA colleagues have helped me enormously
Tell us a little about your background in the industry, including how long you’ve been in the profession, and share a few ways it has changed over the years and where you see it going.
If you promise not to tell anyone I will admit I've been in this industry over 45 years! I studied journalism in college, fully intending to be a crusading reporter. But I was fortunate enough to be selected for a public relations internship in the Washington State Governor’s Office and another one in the state legislature. The skills and connections I acquired from these posts changed my career path. After graduating I was recruited into the Governmental Affairs department of a major bank and set off on a career in PR.
After working in the banking industry a few years, I joined a mid-size PR agency, where the exposure to a broad array of clients and PR challenges gave me a tremendous opportunity to develop my skills. I was lucky to be able to work with Fortune 500 companies, local firms, and non-profits in just about every industry you could name. I left the agency, recruited to a hot new start up in the franchising business, only to have the bubble burst, leaving me without a job. But I quickly joined forces with a colleague to start a new agency, and we were successful from Day One. After 14 years of running my own agency, I joined a large international advertising agency to start a San Francisco PR office for them. Three years later, I was recruited to another large agency. But after trying corporate, government, agency and independent consulting, I have found I work better independently. While I still enjoy collaboration with others, I would rather do the work than supervise people and prepare management reports.
Today, I am lucky to be able to pick and choose clients with whom I want to work, whose missions motivate me. I’ll continue to work as long as I find it fulfilling and interesting.
As to how the world has changed, the rise of social media and digital communications has been stunning. I do think, however, that many younger communicators underestimate how important good writing skills still are. And, creativity is creativity, regardless of the medium.
Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences during your career.
One memorable experience was the Pope’s visit to San Francisco. Our PRSA Chapter agreed to supply PR support and interface with the media during Pope John Paul II’s visit here in 1987. Reporters and media outlets from all over the world came to see him, and it was our job to manage the circus. What a great experience! I’ll always remember it and be thankful to PRSA for giving me that opportunity. I also had the opportunity to meet and escort one of my personal heroes, C. Everett Koop, the Surgeon General who did so much to reduce smoking among teens. In fact, I’ve met some amazing people in my job.
What’s your best advice to the new generation of PR professionals?
Be open to taking jobs that aren’t “perfect.” You’ll often learn valuable skills that will lead you to the job you always wanted. And, pay attention to detail. Even though the digital age appears to be more forgiving of typos and grammatical errors, clients may not be. Finally, work hard, but don’t let it consume you. If I had it to do over again, I would have spent more time with my kids.