The Bottom Line: Why You Need to Brush Upon Your Financial Skills

Publication Date: 2008, Fall

Source: SO02 Public Relations Strategist
Product Code: 6K-040808
Organization/Author/Firm: James Kerr
Industry: Financial Services
Specialization(s): Career Development / Corporate Communications
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There’s a big change brewing in the world of corporate communications and public relations, and it doesn’t have to do with blogs, social media or viral videos.

To succeed personally and professionally in the years ahead, communicators will need to master a skill that is of growing importance to CEOs and the organizations that we serve.

It’s called good old-fashioned business and financial acumen.

That’s the message — delivered sometimes in stark terms — by outside experts and executive recruiters. Even before the recent meltdown of the U.S. banking system and the headlines created by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, experts have been seeing a growing need by CEOs for financially versant communications pros who can translate increasingly complex business issues to internal and external audiences.

Given recent events, expect that trend to intensify in the coming months and years. Now is the time for communicators and PR pros to put away their aversion to finance and learn how to speak the one true language of business — the language of money.

For those communicators who master this new world order, the rewards are enormous in terms of pay, prestige and advancement. Those who don’t could find their roles marginalized.

“Communicators have got about three to five years to get ahead of the curve,” says Smooch Repovich Reynolds, CEO of communications and IR recruiting firm the Repovich-Reynolds Group. “The notion of the communications officer generalist who lacks strong financial understanding will die out.”

Adds Tom Nicholson, executive director of the Arthur W. Page Society, a membership organization for senior PR and corporate communications executives: “We’re at a critical point in the profession. Not every communications officer will be able to make the switch.”