Why PR pros must understand project management

Though it’s a discipline often associated with engineering and architecture, project management can also bring structure to your day-to-day PR work.

This story first appeared on PR Daily in September, 2015.

Ongoing learning is probably the best thing you can do to propel your career forward, whether it’s in PR or not. That’s why, when I hear people say if you hate math you should choose a career in PR, it makes me mad.

Ever since I started in PR many years ago, I kept hearing this statement, mostly from people who had no idea what PR was and sometimes from PR pros. I never understood it, really, I still don’t.

PR is way harder than math and, with the advent of social media, understanding math and analytics is a must for every PR pro or for those aspiring to a career in the industry. Plus, it’s fun to see the numbers on a sheet come to life and get a whole new meaning.

Choosing your career based on what you don’t like is a bad start.

I can understand changing paths during your career, because we grow and like different things than when we were in college, but hate…that’s a little too much.If you don’t like math, you’re probably not going to like project management, either. Though it doesn’t necessarily involve math, project management has a lot in common with numbers.

I want to show you how project management can help you be a more successful PR professional.

Why project management?

Project management has been around for a long time, used mainly in engineering and architecture. However, it started to be officially known by its name in the 50s (according to Wikipedia.

Project management includes the same steps we take in PR such as planning, organizing, coordinating, motivating your team, and checking the results. When using it for PR, you became unstoppable.

Here is why:

It helps structure ideas

Project management is about being organized. Every step in project management has a purpose, a meaning, and it takes you to the next level of your project.

When applying it to PR, it helps you structure your ideas, plans, and tasks. You are able to quickly identify people with the right skills for your team, to create an action plan and anticipate potential threats for your project.

Even if you don’t use the steps by the book, project management helps you not only to be more organized, but to know in every moment where you stand for each project you coordinate.

It’s about teamwork

When applying project management principles you learn what teamwork really means and how each member of the team helps meet the greater goal.

No matter where you work, you can’t succeed by yourself. Clients, colleagues, bosses, partners all have a say in your success. That is why is important to know how to identify your team’s strengths and weaknesses.

Sometimes you don’t have the time to test things, so having the ability to quickly identify who in your team can do what means you can focus on the bigger picture.

Prioritization

Getting priorities straight is probably the most common challenge we face in PR. Everything seems important and urgent and it all has to be done yesterday.

Things are not always what they seem. In project management you learn how to give priorities to each task and most importantly set a deadline. You will quickly identify what’s important versus urgent, what you should focus on now and what can wait.

That is a huge stress release, trust me.

The big picture

The most important benefit of learning project management is the ability to see the big picture. And I could argue that most of the mistakes made in PR are due to the inability to see and understand the bigger picture.

Learning to identify the why behind each project or task, helps you anticipate things, steps to take, and potential problems.

You learn to not only look beyond the task at hand, but to understand how what you’re doing affects the whole project. You’ll learn to set milestones and focus on ways to reach them in your race to the greater goal.

Having project management skills helps you be better at your job in PR, over deliver, be ahead of your competition, and make a difference.

After using it day after day-after-day, I could argue project management becomes a state of mind. You see everything you do as a project with small tasks, milestones, deadlines, and final outcome.

Do you apply project management in your work?

Corina Manea is a PR professional, social media strategist and founder of NutsPR. A version of this article originally appeared on the Spin Sucks blog.

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