Wayne Corbett, Public Affairs Officer for the Air Force

Four Pieces of Advice from an Air Force Public Affairs Officer

In light of today’s Fourth of July holiday, we are proud to showcase Wayne Corbett, a Public Affairs Officer in the Air Force for 21 years. Corbett graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1963 with a degree in Journalism and from the University of Georgia with a master’s in Journalism. Corbett served with the Air Force for 30 years, ending in 1993, and then helped create a civilian museum in Savannah Georgia.


What is a piece of advice you have for somebody who is new to the industry? 

You need to do your homework before you go to work for an organization. make sure after you get hired or even before you start, that you get as smart as you can about the company or the organization that you’re representing. When I first went into went into Air Force public affairs, I had nine years of doing other jobs in the Air Force. When I switched over to public affairs, I felt like I would be behind the curve. The absolute opposite was true. Those nine years of doing other things in the Air Force, were absolutely vital. So, my first piece of advice is if you want to work for a company, make sure you get as smart about that company or organization as you possibly can. Learning about an organization is a continuing effort. Know your product, know your company, know your organization inside out.


How do you feel about the increase in the number of people getting their news from social media?

On one hand, it might be appealing because of the speed of things. We have more available to us now because of the internet. It’s nice to have that kind of speed and that kind of technical equipment. It helps us get the job done.

On the other hand, we still need to make sure we’re getting it right. Don’t just get the news first, get it right. The media is big on having the story first rather than making sure the story is the most correct. How many outlets are saying “you heard it here correct?” I’d love to hear more outlets focusing on that rather than the speed.


How do you feel about the phrase “Spin” in PR and public affairs? 

I hear that word used a lot and I get concerned that the general public is getting it in their minds. People are growing accustomed to assuming that the news is to be trifled with and tampered with. It’s disturbing to me that is makes people think that public relations and news can be artificial or unreal.


What is your biggest take away from your public affairs experience? 

Public relations is not for the faint of heart. You have to stand your ground with the external audience and sometimes you have to stand your ground with your own bosses to make sure you’re doing what’s right and proper.