Monday, March 03, 2008

MBA for PR Pros?

Many of my friends who earned bachelors degrees within the past few years have taken the leap into graduate school. As you can guess, many of these students were pre-med or pre-law as undergraduate students and so the transition into graduate school is a logical next step.

Though, for others, especially in the financial services industry, going back to school is an employer-sponsored perk. Recent accounting and business majors who landed jobs at global accounting / financial firms are encouraged to earn MBAs in an effort to further their career – many have some or all of their tuition reimbursed by their employer.

Marketing majors, too, with their subject-area safely inside the walls of most major business schools, seem gravitate toward MBA programs. It seems only natural that students with four years of marketing and business coursework seek out an MBA, especially if a marketing agency offers to help foot the bill.

When it comes to PR firms, it seems tuition reimbursement isn’t really a common benefit. This might be because no one is really demanding it. In fact, from what I can tell in working with communications professionals across a wide spectrum of industries, having an MBA, or any graduate degree, is hardly a requirement for growth. There seems to be a sentiment within our industry that the economic and accounting oriented curriculum doesn’t really apply for your run-of-the-mill Director of Communications position.

Now, as social media blurs the line between PR and Marketing, there’s a real turf war over who is best positioned to counsel clients in this space. Doesn’t it make sense, then, that Public Relations professionals, who so often preach the alignment of communications strategy to the overall objectives of the business, posses the requisite business skills?

The Council of Public Relations firms weighed in last December. You can read the full article here.

Any thoughts on this? From MBAs, younger PR pros, or those currently in grad school?


Meg Roberts said...

Hi John,

I found this post very insightful. As a senior PR student who is rapidly approaching graduation, I decided to enter the workforce immediately. Last semester I debated going to graduate school or pursuing my MBA, but didn't think it was practical so soon after graduation.

While I do want to return to school in the future, I was planning on going for a degree in a communications field such as crisis or strategic communications. It's interesting that PR firms are looking for MBAs-- not that it doesn't make sense, but just something I had never given much thought.

I also find this line from the Council of PR Firms significant:
"one participant stated that public relations and communications are most important at the highest levels of business: 'It’s the ultimate CEO skill.'"

Take care,
Meg Roberts

Stacie said...

I have my MBA in Technology Management. I am a Web Designer. I have a minor BS in Marketing. My employer paid for my MBA and I went to University of Phoenix - very convenient. My advice - if you have an employer who pays, go for it. I never know if or when I am going to switch jobs or what the future will bring, so having an MBA is very nice.