How communicators can improve financial literacy—and secure a better seat at the table

Upping your business acumen can increase your effectiveness and boost your authority. Here’s what you need to know.

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How to improve financial literacy

Just the mere mention of math makes many of us to wince.

It might seem scary—or even painful—but communicators keen on boosting internal influence and authority must become fluent in financials.

Karen Vahouny, who teaches a “Fundamentals of Business and Finance for Public Relations Professionals” course at George Washington University, shared helpful tips for math-averse pros at Ragan’s virtual Business Fluency Boot Camp for Communicators on Thursday, July 23. She opened with a blunt quote from Peppercomm CEO Steve Cody: “You’ll fail without knowing how to read an annual report, 10K or other basic accounting documents. If you’re financially ignorant, you’ll be an afterthought.”

Vahouny explained the “trifecta of financial reporting,” which every communicator should learn how to interpret and analyze. The big three include:

1. Income statements, which show what an organization earned from its operations and measures results over a period of time. Income statements track performance, typically over a quarter or year, and they usually list metrics such as sales, gross profit, general and administrative expenses, earnings before taxes and net income.

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