Advancing Towards Public Relations Management

public relations managementI found Bruce Berger‘s (2007) study on factors that practitioners believe relate to professional success in public relations to be very interesting. I paid special attention to the educational requirements section of the study since the findings discussed are  considered an ongoing issue in the public relations field.

According to Mitchell Friedman‘s (2012) article in the PR Journal, the Commission on Public Relations Education reports that academic programs need to “prepare students for the evolution of public relations from a set of technical skills into an increasingly strategic, professional, and management-focused effort.”

I often find that young professionals who have just graduated and are just starting their careers in public relations question whether or not they need more experience, what types of experience opportunities they should pursue (internships, full-time work), and whether or not participating in a graduate program would benefit their careers.

The variety of responses presented in Berger’s survey were expected, but the details presented were encouraging. Of the 21st century skills highlighted by the 1999 Commission on Public Relations Education, I found that I had already established a basic or proficient knowledge base for many of the suggested skills, but the ones I would like to pursue most are “problem solving and negotiation” as well as “management of people and resources.”

With over 22 percent of respondents indicating that “holding a decision-making position” is a definition of professional success, I believe that I need to refine my problem solving and management skills to later qualify for such positions. Although I am participating in this MA program with the intention of developing my strategic communication and management skills, it was encouraging to see how some of my other strengths like networking (22.7%) and teamwork (22.6%) measured up against other professionals.

The 2006 Commission report also suggested that young professionals “join a professional or pre-professional organization” so that they can build “integrity as team participants and leaders.”

Taking advantage of this advice, I took the liberty of joining the Public Relations Student Society of America as well as the American Marketing Association in 2012. The first was to address my need to continue developing as a public relations professional.

Joining the AMA serves to address the ever-present relationship (and sometimes battle) between PR and marketing. Since public relations is often overseen by marketing departments, I believe that joining this professional association will help build an understanding of this underlying relationship and assist me as I seek further development opportunities within this field.

After reading Roger Martin’s article How Successful Leaders Think, I immediately started comparing my own character against what Martin suggested was a “successful leader.” Last year, I had the opportunity to take a Myers-Briggs personality assessment and found that I was an ESTJ-type (Extrovert Sensing Thinking Judging).

The assessment suggested that I was “realistic, decisive, and quick to implement decisions” and went on to state that ESTJ-types often focus on “getting results in the most efficient way possible.” This made me wonder how I would measure up to Martin’s conventional versus integrative thinking model and made me wonder how my current processes could be improved to reflect more integrative and effective decisions.

At first, I appreciated the suggestion that one discard as many factors as possible so that they can focus on issues of priority. It seemed like a very logical approach for a public relations professional who deals with numerous audiences and complex influences, but when I read Martin’s suggestion that one “seek less obvious but potentially relevant factors” and “consider multi-directional relationships among variables” I definitely agreed.

His suggestion that reducing one’s exposure to factors that may not be influential in that moment in time, but could be affected by a decision was very insightful. I am now encouraged to reconsider my audience selections and how disqualified audiences may later respond and influence the success of a campaign. It has been my observation that it is often the interest group that you didn’t consider that has the loudest (and most vengeful) response to an issue.

Suggested Readings

  • Martin, R. | How Successful Leaders Think.
  • Berger, B. et al. | You can’t Homogenize Success in Communication Management: PR Leaders Take Diverse Paths to Top
  • The Myers & Briggs Foundation
  • Friedman, M. | Leadership development in undergraduate public relations students: a case study.

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Yasheaka Oakley Owens

Yasheaka Oakley Owens is the owner of YOakleyPR, a woman-owned small business that provides public relations, social media, and online marketing support services to small businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware.

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