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Leadership in Public Relations

When Rick Looser, President and COO of The Cirlot Agency, was asked to give an example of a great leader in public relations, he didn’t hesitate with his response.
“That would be Dr. Robert Khayat of the University of Mississippi,” said Rick. “Dr. Khayat came to Ole Miss in 1996. The first thing he did was hire a national public relations firm to gauge what the opinions were on the University of Mississippi.”
According to Rick, after hearing what the national firm said, Chancellor Khayat became the driving force for change at Ole Miss, initiating the removal of such controversial symbols as Colonel Rebel and the Confederate flag.
Though he was a popular and beloved figure at the University, Khayat received harsh criticism and even death threats for the changes he implemented. Despite the criticism, Khayat’s determination paid off. During his time as chancellor, enrollment increased by 50%, donations increased by millions of dollars and the University became center stage for the first debate of the 2008 Presidential race, for which The Cirlot Agency provided media, public relations and marketing strategy expertise.
“Our agency spent 18 months working on that event because Dr. Khayat saw what public relations meant,” said Rick.
See Rick’s full six-minute interview with The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at The University of Alabama, below.



Mississippi Believe It!