Why PR Professionals Should Understand Business Fundamentals

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Public relations professionals are communicators. Their role is to communicate the organization’s story with various stakeholders. And without a sound understanding of the fundamentals of business, it’s nearly impossible to do the job effectively.

It Improves Communication

Executives in the C-suite look to public relations professionals for guidance on how to communicate organizational news to employees, the public at large, board members, and stock holders. Therefore, public relations professionals need to speak the same language as the company’s top executives. Doing so allows them to understand what should be communicated and to be able to do so effectively. The right vocabulary allows the PR team to interpret information coming from the C-suite and to translate it into laymen’s terms that can be shared with other audiences.

It Gives Credibility

If members of the public relations team have to ask for explanations of common business, finance, and accounting terms, the company’s leadership won’t see them as credible professionals. They must understand how to read a balance sheet, the difference between assets and liabilities, what EBITA is, and how depreciation works. Additionally, they should also be very familiar with terms associated with their specific industry. For example, public relations professionals working in the hospital industry need to know about reimbursement rates, case mix index, and DRGs.

It Grants Access

Once the executive team recognizes that a public relations professional speaks their language, it will be easier to gain access to information. And with more information at their disposal, it’ll be easier to communication effectively. PR pros will be prepared to answer questions from reporters or others they encounter. They won’t have to go seek out an answer; they’ll be able to answer the question immediately.

It Defines the Role

A public relations role advances the overall goals of the business, and public relations pros need to understand where their role fits into the organization. Without insight into the way the company operates, PR pros may be focusing strategies in the wrong areas. For example, the company may receive excellent coverage in the local newspaper, but the company’s growth strategy may lie in overseas markets. In that case, the public relations focus very likely needs to change to trade publications and trade-specific business publications.

A degree in public relations will help public relations professionals learn more about the craft and also about the business world. For instance, the George Washington University‘s online program offers courses in the fundamentals of finance and management to prepare students for what’s to come.