Gini Dietrich

Five Skills You Need You Won’t Learn In PR Class

By: Gini Dietrich | February 9, 2012 | 
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In our quest to continue experimenting and mix things up a bit, we are going to continue Facebook question of the week (clap, clap, clap), but we are not going to devote a blog post to it.

Instead, it will air every Thursday and you can find it in the sidebar of the blog, on YouTube, on Facebook, on Google+, on Pinterest, and on the Arment Dietrich home page (phew!).

We’re going to test how much fame and fortune that brings to those of you who dare ask us a question. Which can still be asked by leaving it on our Facebook wall.

That said, you can find today’s question from Jason Konopinski by clicking here, if you’re not actually on the blog and don’t see it in the sidebar.

And now…today’s actual blog post.

The Five Skills You Won’t Learn in PR Class

An interesting thing happened the other day. A new business prospect asked us why he hadn’t come across a PR professional before who knew the right questions to ask about his business.

It’s a gross generalization, but as a rule we joke that we went into PR because we hate numbers.

And numbers are just one thing you need to know that you won’t learn in PR class.

  1. The business dashboards. Do you know the difference between a P&L and a balance sheet? Do you know how to read them both? Do you know the difference between revenue and the bottom line? What about the difference between gross and net margins? Do you know how your efforts can affect revenue and margins? If you don’t say yes to every one of these questions, I recommend befriending someone in your accounting department. Learn it. It will benefit you in the long run.
  2. Traditional marketing. The lines between PR and marketing are becoming even more blurred. In a comment on yesterday’s blog post describing the difference between PR and advertising, Ken Mueller lamented that the term “PR” may eventually go away because everything is integrating. Learn how to generate, nurture, and convert leads. Work with your sales team to understand how they use the customer relationship management software. Learn how to automate some of your reporting, as it relates to all the good work you’re doing.
  3. Budgeting and forecasting. As you move up in your career, you’re going to be charged with budgeting and forecasting. Learn how to budget conservatively and aggressively. Learn the difference between accrual and cash statements. Learn how to adjust your forecasting, based on trends, the industry, and even accounts receivables.
  4. Management and leadership. There is a difference between the two and it’s necessary for both to exist in your career. Particularly if you work on the agency side, you’ll find you are managing client accounts by the time you hit account supervisor level. But you might also be leading an internal innovation team or mentoring younger colleagues. Management skills need to be learned so you can lead a team that works together in the best interest of the clients.
  5. Willingness to learn something new. Again in yesterday’s blog post (it brought out all the smarties!), Suzi Carragher commented, “A former colleague was often asked if she was in the medical profession, because she could hold a conversation about open heart surgery with any surgeon on the planet. She advocated FOR the medical profession as a public relations practitioner.” My friend Mimi  Meredith was to join an agency that focuses on automotive PR. She worked at a car dealership, selling cars, for 90 days. Learn the business you’re counseling. Everything about it. Go on sales calls. Work on the floor. Do what you have to do to know everything you can.

There are many, many other skills you need as a PR professional that you won’t learn in the classroom, but I’m out of writing time for the morning.

So, you tell me, what else is there?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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