Is an MBA in PR Worth it? The Truth About Having a Business Degree as a Publicist

December 28, 2020
Written by
Beth McRae
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Many communicators who consider pursuing an advanced degree often ask themselves, is it really worth it?

 

Investing in an MBA requires a great deal of time, energy and money. Most PR professionals are working overtime these days to meet clients’ needs resulting from the demands of 2020’s cultural and economic challenges. While a love of learning or a desire to stand out in the job market are strong arguments for pursuing a master’s degree, PR professionals should weigh the pros and cons before hitting the books to ensure the timing is right. 

 

Despite the monumental task of returning to school while managing an ambitious career trajectory, there’s no doubt that an advanced communications degree can go a long way in the PR industry — and, luckily, publicists are often excellent multi-taskers. While an MBA certainly is not a prerequisite for success in the industry, it may be worth the qualification boost. When coupled with firsthand industry experience, an MBA can give a publicist the edge they need to stick the landing on their next career move.

 

It sets your resume apart.

 

It’s likely you haven’t met many professionals in PR who hold an MBA— and that’s precisely what makes it a valuable asset. An advanced communications degree is a differentiator, and demonstrates a targeted passion for the field. In a competitive industry such as PR, that extra line on your resume can be the defining factor that tips the scales in your favor during the recruiting process. 

 

As the modern news media changes, it can be difficult to stand out in a sea of other well-rounded and highly-accomplished PR professionals. With the rise of freelance work and an endless influx of industry-disrupting startup clients, many PR practitioners today have an impressively diverse skill set, making competition between publicists that much steeper. 

 

Given that an MBA in communications or business is a relatively rare asset, pursuing that degree can ultimately give you an edge at the end of an interview. Further, when a potential client sees that unusual feather in your cap, alongside other impressive qualifications, it can serve as a testament to your expertise that translates well beyond the scope of the communications industry.

 

It shows the client you “get” their business.

 

Another benefit to pursuing an MBA in PR or a related field is applicability. Unlike many of the undergraduate courses you may have taken — How often have you used calculus or biology in your professional career? — an MBA can be uniquely illuminating.

 

With a Master’s of Business Administration, professionals can gain specialized, high-level insight into the inner workings of a client’s business. Understanding the financial elements at play, investor obligations, supply chain economics, or day-to-day corporate operations can be an asset to any publicist. By understanding how a client’s business functions, PR practitioners can demonstrate a deeper knowledge of the client's goals for growth, which will ultimately help them garner faster and greater results.

 

Applying the knowledge gained through higher education in business can also help to establish a foundation of trust with a client. An MBA can assure potential clients of your expertise in a concrete way, with a refreshing understanding of factors impacting their business goals. Especially today, in an unstable economy amid the global pandemic, clients are doubling down on efforts to ensure they have the most qualified professionals in their corner to guarantee success.

 

It makes you an A+ presenter.

 

Public relations is a rare industry in which public speaking skills are critical. Presentation skills have the immediate ability to either uphold or diminish the value of your insights in front of clients and colleagues who look to you for advice. To assert credibility during client meetings and strategy sessions, it is vital to learn how to present yourself as a technologically proficient professional who can create a persuasive and provoking visual display. The hours spent earning an MBA are an accelerator in public speaking practice and technological cognizance.

 

Despite the sizable commitment necessary to obtain one, an MBA can be a valuable investment in a publicist’s long-term success. Both for PR veterans and those just entering the field, an advanced communications degree can increase your competitive qualifications, sharpen your business knowledge and improve your speaking ability. Though no amount of formal education can replace a resume rich in lived experience, an MBA can offer an additional edge and serve as a conduit for an upward trajectory of professional growth. 

 

Want to learn more about whether an MBA is right for you? Check out episode 9 of the PR Wine Down podcast with special guest Beth McRae, president of the McRae Agency.

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Beth McRae

Beth McRae is the president at The McRae Agency.