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My last post was on how getting an MBA can help a PR pro. It generated lots of dialogue.

The comments were far better than the post. Thanks to those who shared it and contributed to the discussion. It reminded me about the REAL benefit of blogging (for those of us not named Seth Godin 🙂

Anyway, an MBA ain’t all shits and giggles. I’ll share some of the things I didn’t like about the degree so that 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. Those you get via this education 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 told you that your pitch was garbage? The “MBA approach” often neglects to account for (or simply downplays) human emotions and intuition.
  2. The main skill PR pros need is building and managing relationships. No classroom can teach this. PR is a thoroughly human to human biz, now more than ever due to social media. You wanna excel in this game? You better be socially adept, able to read people, and know, quickly, what they really 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, etc.
  3. You cannot systematize or process-ify creativity. PR is creative biz. I LOVE this about it. Nothing makes me happier than a bomb ass bit of guerrilla marketing that gets loads of coverage for clients. The MBA accounts for the need for creativity and innovation (indeed 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. The frikkin language! You want to hear jargon? Go to an MBA classroom. They’ve got lots of b.s. language happening…guaranteed! Towards the end of my 20 month program, I’d have punched anyone who told me that the solution to any biz problem was to “leverage the firm’s core competencies.” As someone who is trying hard to move away from spouting jargon worthy of a sucker punch, I was a bit 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 was studying. 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.

Any of you guys out there have similar feelings to these? I’d love to hear about them.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Krista says:

    Great way to frame the discussion and explore the other side of the coin. I like to think that graduate school is good for working professionals because it challenges our brains to think outside of the daily grind and hopefully, open our minds to new ideas.

    During my MS studies (in communication management), I took an introductory course in marketing throught the MBA program and realized I was a little fish in a big pond indeed. I was still thinking with my liberal arts/PR/communications mindset but was able to glean from my MBA colleagues the need for clear strategies and the importance of ROI (sorry for the jargon!)

    In the end, I think I was able to contribute to the discussion of “promotion” as that seemed to have the most to do with PR. For that, I agree with your point here, and in the comments section in your previous post, that there is a disconnect between the role of PR/communications in most MBA programs.

  • Hey, Jackson. Really like that you went ahead with a second post and shared both sides. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to present to an executive MBA class at UMKC here locally over the weekend. My GM and I covered crisis communications and we shared two case studies — United Breaks Guitars and Dominos Pizza Turnaround — where social media played a big role. Hopefully times are a’ changin :).

    One other thing I noticed is that while it sounded like the MBA put you in a great position to extend your peer set and meet some great people, you still had to believe in the value of networking and find a way to have those vodkas with your classmates 🙂 to build relationships.

    Great topic. Cheers!

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