5 ways math creeps into the life of a young PR pro

Hey, young public relations professionals, did you think graduation meant the end of math as you know. Think again.


Andy Cohen said it best in his new book “Most Talkative“: “My brain has a tendency to go blank when I see an Excel spreadsheet.”

I’ll never forget the horrified look on my math teacher’s face when I jumped up and down in his classroom after he told me I got a 66 on the Math B NYS Regents exam. To him, that was a terrible grade. But to me, I was done. I passed. I earned my advanced regents diploma. Check.

It’s not that I can’t do math. It’s just that I have no interest in it. Numbers don’t speak to me like words do. I’m an excellent example of the stereotype that your brain is either wired for math and sciences, or language and arts. I had to take only one math class to fulfill my bachelor’s degree, and upon graduation I thought I’d never have to solve math problems again.

Unfortunately, as a communications professional, I have not escaped the grips of math.

In entry-level positions, especially at small agencies, you’re something of a glorified intern in the sense that you’re expected to be do everything, to be a jack of all trades. As a result, you end up learning the ins and outs of the agency and a little bit about everyone’s job.

While you may be done with the Pythagorean Theorem and graphing calculators, here are five ways math may creep into your life again:

1. Grad school

If you decide to go to graduate school, you’ll probably have to take the GRE. It’s like taking the SAT all over again except you can’t use a calculator on the math section (at least you couldn’t in 2009). I had to reteach myself how to do long division.

2. Accounting

It’s important to review client budgets and estimates to keep the agency on track for all projects and campaigns. I’ve also learned how to complete payables and general ledgers.

3. Media buying

Remember that fun equation GRP = reach x frequency? Learn to love it. Also learn how to solve for the CPM, CPP, CPC, CTR, and analyze all of those numbers in an Excel spreadsheet. (Are your eyes glazed over yet?)

4. Living on a budget

If you’re in an entry-level position in the communications field, chances are you’ll be living on a budget.

To keep yourself organized, you may want to create a spreadsheet to help you figure out if you can afford to visit your friend who moved to D.C. or buy tickets to a concert in New York. Let’s call that fund “x.” Now you need to factor in your monthly expenses: x= paycheck – (rent + groceries + student loans + car payment + health insurance + happy hour). Why didn’t we learn that helpful equation in math class?

5. Timesheets

OK, so this isn’t too difficult, but it’s an adjustment to think about your day numerically and keep track of what you’re doing down to one-fourth of an hour.

Follow Caitlin Mooney on Twitter @caitlinmooney. A version of this story first appeared on the Millennial Mafia blog.

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