There’s no business like PR business

OK, there is… there is…

But the business part of running an agency is often considered second to the practice of PR.   It’s been said that communicators don’t understand the intricacies of business goals and this lack of knowledge has been one of the things that’s relegated the industry to a seat at the kid’s table (as opposed to the grown up table in the C-suite).  And perhaps this is reinforced in PR schools,  where the emphasis is on communications (of course) but few, if any, classes cover business.

So where can we find the expertise we need to successfully understand our client’s businesses and run our own?

I get it from PRSA’s Counselors Academy’s annual spring conference, happening May 21 to 23.   I’ve blogged about the organization before and am the Canadian rep on the executive committee.  Counselors is my annual PR agency business summit – three days of learning, sharing and socializing that provides me with the tools I need to improve my firm.

This year’s theme, ‘Looking Up: Lessons and Conversations to Move Your Business Forward’ explores strategies we need to do to emerge from the recession and once again build businesses focused on innovation and growth.  And it fits in well with the locale – the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina.

Here’s a link to the program.  There will be keynotes by PR 2.0 author and thought-leader Brian Solis and leadership expert Randy Hall; a pre-con session geared to creating a smashing social media plan by Jay Baer; and many first-class sessions and roundtables including how to grow leaders within an organization, a panel on the new listening and monitoring, strategies to successfully add social media and digital capabilities to your agency mix, Darryl Salerno’s fourth annual English as a Second Language (you really aren’t smarter than a fifth grader) and much more superb content.   It’s also a wonderful time to network, get answers to tough questions, and meet and become friends with an incredibly sharp, insightful, friendly and open group of people.  I’ve said this before but it’s the highlight of my PR year and I come back energized and excited to be in the profession.

Here’s where you go to register.  Hope to see you there.

Note: My Ex-Comm buddies Abbie Fink and Roger Friedensen suggested I also include Counselors’ Facebook and Linkedin pages to give you a bit more flavour.  (Thanks.)

About Martin Waxman

Martin Waxman is a digital, social media and communications strategist, content marketer, social media trainer and instructor and co-founder of three PR agencies. He blogs at myPALETTE and hosts the Inside PR podcast.

Jackson Wightman
Jackson Wightman

Hi Martin,

Thanks for sharing.

The folks that I hire coming out of PR school have little biz understanding/training as you suggest. As you suggest, this is a REAL problem.

You cannot practice communications strategically if you don't get business goals and how tactics tie to them.

Understanding basic things like business strategy, sources of competitive advantage, and how forces in the external environment can shape an industry's playing field are essential to carrying out effective PR campaigns.

PR people - esp mid career professionals are wise to look at bolstering their business knowledge via things like EMBA programs or other exec study initiatives. Even in a corporate/client side environment that managerial learnings are worth the price of admission.


Thanks Jackson. I agree with you. As an industry, we need to become better at understanding and speaking the language of business. Otherwise, we'll be relegated to being tacticians and not trusted counselors.


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  2. […] board – or excomm – meeting (that’s executive committee). I’ve said it many times, but Counselors is one the gems of the PR industry; where agency leaders get together and share […]