5 things PR pros might not like about MBA programs

MBA programs spew jargon and pay little attention to PR. Consider these points to determine if the degree is right for you.

My article about how getting an MBA can help PR pros generated lots of dialogue.

The comments were far better than the post. Thanks to those who shared it and contributed to the discussion.

I’ll share some of the things I didn’t like about the degree so PR pros considering a management education can hear both sides of the story.

1. There’s a rational framework for every answer … huh? The MBA is a degree of tools. They are designed to systematize business and refine processes. While the analytical frameworks taught in an MBA are extremely valuable, solutions in business are not always found via rational methodologies. For instance, would you ever draw an Ishikawa diagram after a reporter said your pitch was garbage? The “MBA approach” often neglects to account for (or simply downplays) human emotions and intuition.

2. Essential PR skills are building and managing relationships. No classroom can teach this. PR is a thoroughly human to human business, now more than ever due to social media. If you want to excel, you better be socially adept, able to read people, and know, quickly, what they dislike. Did I learn anything about this from my MBA? Maybe. But I learned a lot more about it through travel, talking to people over vodkas for hours, watching my Dad work a room, and so on.

3. You cannot systematize creativity. PR is a creative business. I love this about it. Nothing makes me happier than a guerrilla marketing campaign that gets loads of coverage. The MBA accounts for the need for creativity and innovation (much management literature cannot shut up about these things), but if you subject everything to the systematic, process driven approach this education espouses you will kill creativity.

4. Jargon is inescapable! You want to hear jargon? Go to an MBA classroom. Towards the end of my 20-month program, I wanted to punch anyone who told me the solution to any business problem was to “leverage the firm’s core competencies.” As someone who is trying hard to move away from spouting jargon, I was appalled by the crap people threw around in class.

5. There was very little attention given to PR/communications (and none to social media). This, of course, is partially a problem specific to my program and the years I studied. We looked at a few cases on crisis management—big ones, Tylenol and the CN derailment in Canada—but much more could have been covered. Again, this is one man’s experience so please take it with a grain of salt.

What has been your experience?

Topics: PR


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