Corina Manea

Why Project Management is a Must for Every PR Pro

By: Corina Manea | September 9, 2015 | 

Why Project Management is a Must for Every PR ProBy Corina Manea

Ongoing learning is probably the best thing you can do to propel your career forward, whether it’s in PR or not.

Gini Dietrich showed you last week three ways you can invest in yourself through learning—a must read article for every professional.

Go ahead read it, I’ll wait.

To say I like learning would be an understatement. I love learning, the challenges it brings, and those “aha” moments. That’s why, when I hear people say if you hate math you should choose a career in PR, it makes me mad.

Ever since I started in PR many years ago, I kept hearing this statement, mostly from people who had no idea what PR was and sometimes from PR pros.

I never understood it, really, I still don’t.

I mean, PR is way harder than math and, with the advent of social media, understanding math and analytics is a must for every PR pro or for those aspiring to a career in the industry. Plus, it’s fun to see the numbers on a sheet come to life and get a whole new meaning.

But back to our topic at hand: Choosing your career based on what you don’t like (hate is a strong word) is a bad start.

I can understand changing paths during your career, because we grow and like different things than when we were in college, but hate…that’s a little too much.

If you don’t like math, you’re probably not going to like project management, either. Though it doesn’t necessarily involve math, project management has a lot in common with numbers. 

And today I want to show you how project management can help you be a more successful PR professional.

Are you ready?

Why Project Management?

Project management has been around for a long time, used mainly in engineering and architecture. However, it started to be officially known by its name in the 50s (according to Wikipedia).

Project management includes the same steps we take in PR such as planning, organizing, coordinating, motivating your team, and checking the results. But, when using it for PR, you became unstoppable.

Here is why:

It Helps Structure Ideas

Project management is about being organized. Every step in project management has a purpose, a meaning, and it takes you to the next level of your project.

So when applying it to PR, it helps you structure your ideas, plans, and tasks. You are able to quickly identify people with the right skills for your team, to create an action plan and anticipate potential threats for your project.

Even if you don’t use the steps by the book, project management helps you not only to be more organized, but to know in every moment where you stand for each project you coordinate.

It’s About Teamwork

When applying project management principles you learn what teamwork really means and how each member of the team helps meet the greater goal.

No matter where you work, you can’t succeed by yourself. Clients, colleagues, bosses, partners all have a say in your success. That is why is important to know how to identify your team’s strengths and weaknesses.

Sometimes you don’t have the time to test things, so having the ability to quickly identify who in your team can do what means you can focus on the bigger picture.


That’s probably the most common challenge we face in PR. Everything seems important and urgent and it all has to be done yesterday.

But, the fact of the matter is, things are not always what they seem. In project management you learn how to give priorities to each task and most importantly set a deadline. You will quickly identify what’s important versus urgent, what you should focus on now and what can wait.

And that is a huge stress release…trust me.

The Big Picture

The most important benefit of learning project management is the ability to see the big picture. And I could argue that most of the mistakes made in PR are due to the inability to see and understand the bigger picture.

Learning to identify the why behind each project or task, helps you anticipate things, steps to take, and potential problems.

You learn to not only look beyond the task at hand, but to understand how what you’re doing affects the whole project. You’ll learn to set milestones and focus on ways to reach them in your race to the greater goal.

Having project management skills helps you be better at your job in PR, over deliver, be ahead of your competition, and make a difference.

After using it day after day-after-day, I could argue project management becomes a state of mind. You see everything you do as a project with small tasks, milestones, deadlines, and final outcome.

Do you apply project management in your work?

image credit: Shutterstock

About Corina Manea

Corina Manea is the chief community officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She works directly with Spin Sucks students and writes for the award-winning PR blog. She also is the founder of NutsPR. Join the Spin Sucks  community!

  • Excellent piece, Corina (and so true). One thing that always sort of confused me about project management (or at least made me scratch my head) is…… my previous employer, we would (of course) have project management people overseeing, for example, a new enrollment system implementation. The org with which we contracted would bring in “Joe (or Jill) Project Manager” to manage the project. This position sort of seemed like a revolving door. While I understand that project management principles are consistent, uniform, and theoretically can be plugged in to pretty much any situation, it was so frustrating when these people did not see (or make an effort to see) the desired end result: that a child could actually get health insurance because the details of their account had been handled right in the first place. (But I can definitely see in a situation like PR such as you discuss here why PM principles are exceptionally useful.)

  • corinamanea

    LauraHamilton09 Thank you for sharing Laura!

  • corinamanea

    tasharus Thank you for sharing Nataliya!

  • corinamanea

    McMasterMCM SpinSucks Thanks for the share!

  • McMasterMCM

    corinamanea no problem, cheers! ^MAF SpinSucks

  • biggreenpen Thank you so much Paula. I learned PM in the IT department of a bank and I had the chance to coordinate and implement big projects. I was in the account management team, so the interaction with the internal client was my priority.
    I know what you mean. While coordinating projects, I was part of the PM team and I had the same issue: they couldn’t see the end result and how it would help x,y,z department. For them is was just implementing the project, give live the loans application, for example.
    Though they were very good at their jobs in terms of meeting deadlines and running the project, I believed and still to they needed more customer service training.
    For me that experience helped me a lot for my next job in PR.

  • corinamanea

    rachellaber SpinSucks Thanks for the share Rachel!

  • corinamanea

    DAllisonLee Thank you Deb!

  • corinamanea

    ginidietrich Thank you Gini!

  • corinamanea

    michellehals Thank you for sharing Michelle!

  • corinamanea

    ElenaVerlee Thank you Elena!

  • michellehals

    corinamanea You’re welcome. It’s a great article!

  • corinamanea

    MarkBevans Thank you Mark!

  • danielschiller

    Corina Manea – I need your pm expertise! PM gets things done when they need to be done, on budget, within scope etc. And a PM is worth their weight in gold to keep people like me on track.

  • danielschiller LOL

  • Stephen Moore

    “That’s why, when I hear people say if you hate math you should choose a career in PR, it makes me mad” 
    That kind of comment in infuriating … and wrong. How many journalists covering finance, VC, or economics would love to work with a communication profession who knows her or his numbers? All of them. 

    Even if you aren’t working in a field that requires a comfort with stats, you still need to be able to use and understand data to inform your communications.

    Excellent post. Thanks for sharing!

  • Stephen Moore Thank you Stephen!

    The irony is that if we stop and think about it, we are surrounded by numbers in our professional and personal life, we just don’t like to admit it. Nobody says you have to be the next Einstein or to extract an equation from a spreadsheet. But we need to understand what we transmit in those press-releases or company’s annual reports.

  • corinamanea

    SuzanneHenry Thank you for sharing Suzanne!

  • corinamanea

    INK_PR Thank you guys!

  • kaitfowlie

    “Project management” itself implies perspective, organization, and monitoring. Agreed – all PR pros should be project managers! Thanks for sharing.

  • ElenaVerlee

    corinamanea welcome!

  • kdebeer

    Corina Manea Are there any resources (books, blogs, online courses, etc.) that you’ve found to be especially helpful when it comes to applying project management principles to PR?

  • kdebeer That’s a good question Kyle. I can recommend one of the books I learned PM back in 2006: Project Management – A systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling by Harold Kerzner.
    Once you know the principles of PM, you’ll begin to apply them everywhere, in professional and personal life as well.

  • kdebeer I have also a few documents that can help you. Shoot me an email at: and I will send them to you.

  • TaraFriedlundGeissinger

    No joke — I actually met with a college counselor to determine what I could major in that gave me the least amount of math. Just FYI for any current students out there, the answer was Journalism and English Lit. 🙂 So in a way, those people WERE right! LOL! 

    I am the QUEEN of project management. I love order, systems, budgets and keeping everything on track and delivering results. After working in PR for a few years, I moved over to the ‘dark side’ of advertising and that’s where the PM skills really took hold. I totally agree that it becomes ingrained in your way of thinking, but I am grateful to this day that they hooked me!

  • TaraFriedlundGeissinger

    Corina Manea kdebeer Me too! 🙂

  • corinamanea

    LindsMMullen Thank you Lindsay for sharing!

  • AEBianchi

    TaraFriedlundGeissinger Corina Manea kdebeer Me Three! i hope you don’t mind, i am emailing you now. Cheers.

  • AEBianchi TaraFriedlundGeissinger kdebeer Of course. Email me.