Communications and Business Acumen go hand in hand

With the public relations landscape constantly evolving, PR professionals have tried to reinvent themselves and the industry by shifting their focus to various elements such as authenticity, integration, creativity, storytelling, big data, etc., to remain relevant.

Although many agencies and professionals are moving quickly to keep on top, one of the key areas that is most undervalued in the industry is working to build knowledge around business acumen.

To be a good communicator, you need to be more than just good at communicating. Having a good understanding of fundamental business principles is a key ingredient to personal career success as a PR professional, as well as for the industry as a whole.

Business acumen, which is understanding and dealing with business situations in a prompt manner that leads to a favourable outcome, goes hand in hand with communications and can be used applicably both within the communications agency you work for, as well as within the company you are servicing.

  1. Benefits of being business savvy

As a PR professional it is essential to understand the way your public relations employer, whether it be a small or large agency, operates financially so that you can familiarise yourself with the various business ramifications associated with failing to bill clients on time, forgetting to quote clients on time, inaccurately drawing up budgets, etc., and other tasks associated with your role.

Understanding how public relations agencies operate financially will also give you a better idea of how the company is financially performing and what your contribution to the growth of the company is. If you know what margin the business is running at, as well as the margin your accounts are running at, you can determine whether or not you are doing a good job. If you are making a contribution to the company’s bottom line, when it comes to salary increases and bonus discussions, this will make motivating for a higher income much easier.

Furthermore, knowing your company’s revenue target will help you explain the true value of your work and the value of public relations to your clients, as well as help you justify the company’s retainer fees.

  1. Benefits of being business savvy when servicing your clients

Understanding the way in which your client operates financially as a business; how they generate and spend revenue, their current stock price, the company’s revenue margin, etc., can be used as a guiding light to meet your specified client key performance areas.

Communications can have a powerful impact on a business’s bottom line and can be a contributing factor on the organisation’s overall effectiveness. If you understand the crux of your client’s financials, you can better communicate business news on your client’s behalf.

You will also be able to gauge where you fit within the business. This will help you to effectively communicate your ideas on how the company can gain the most out of its public relations efforts, as well effectively communicate the right messages.

It is essential for public relations agencies to pay more attention to developing their employee’s business acumen skills by enforcing business acumen talent development programmes.

PR professionals need to be reminded to:

  • Speak to their client’s about money. Don’t be afraid to ask client’s for financial information that will help them with your role as a PR professional.
  • Ask their client’s for their personal key performance indicators to help them better deliver on their job, as they will know exactly what is expected of their client and what is important to them.
  • Put business first. Work out the company’s business goals and potential challenges or problems. Then communicate to support that.


Written By: Kelli Knutsen