How Managing PR Is Like Managing Your Finances

Diagram and calculator on money background

I’m a PR professional who, over the years, has represented a number of clients in the financial space—and I’ve also read a variety of books on personal finance.

So, rest assured, I’m an expert on all things money.

OK, maybe that’s a slight overstatement. I may not be a financial coach, but, for what it’s worth, I do have a decade of agency experience, which has been instrumental in informing my perspective on both PR and financial matters. And, in my day-to-day pondering, I often find myself applying money and investing-related concepts and principles to different areas of my life, work included.

What are some ways in which managing a PR campaign is like managing your finances? Based on my experiences, observations and pondering, here is how I would answer that question:

Establish Goals at the Start

Just like how a financial plan is shaped by a person’s goals, a PR plan will ultimately be shaped by the client’s own goals, wants and overall definition of success. While one client might be a consumer brand squarely focused on securing high-quality backlinks, another client might be an organization seeking regional media coverage that promotes their upcoming event, and another might be a B2B company seeking a combination of profile pieces, thought leadership opportunities and speaking engagements.

What are your client’s deepest desires and wildest dreams? Talk to them about it! Not only does covering this ground early on help get the campaign engine up and running smoothly, but it also helps ensure that the campaign is on the right track at the start.

The Importance of Budgeting

The most scarce resources for any PR practitioner: time and attention.

In today's saturated and noisy media landscape, each PR professional has a choice to make: you can try pursuing any and all potential opportunities, or you can focus on the high-impact work that is likely to move the needle.

You want to secure that Wall Street Journal placement? You give yourself your best shot at success by allocating the appropriate amount of time and focus that allows you to 1) Identify the right reporter; 2) Find the right angle; and 3) Draft that tailored, pithy pitch that hits all the right notes.

The takeaway I offer to my fellow PR professionals: be thoughtful and deliberate in how you use your time and attention, similar to how a budget-minded consumer treats how they allocate their spending.

Taking Smart Risks

Just like how, from a financial standpoint, risk tolerance varies from individual to individual, risk tolerance in the world of PR varies widely from client to client. In PR, there are many shapes and sizes that a “smart risk” can take, from as simple as using a provocative subject line for your pitch, to as grand as literally launching a car into outer space.

Standing out through the media clutter requires thinking and acting differently, which inherently means taking risks. The sooner you are comfortable with that truth, the sooner you’ll be equipped to make a meaningful impact for your clients.

The Power of Compound Interest

Finally, your client is booked to appear on their favorite podcast. And they do a great job. Guess what? From the appearance, not only are they invited back onto that podcast, but they’re also invited onto other podcasts. And then onto CNBC. Next, your client receives an interview request from The New York Times.

The industry adage “media begets media” aptly applies here. And more broadly, much of the media outreach and relationship building we do involves planting seeds that pay off later on—just like the financial principle of compound interest, where the practice of making small, consistent investments over time eventually leads to exponential returns.

Truth be told, these concepts translate to all aspects of life. But, as widely applicable and useful as they are, they can be just as easily lost, forgotten or not even considered to begin with—especially in those areas of life and work that are often so busy, demanding and fast-paced.

Yes, PR is a fast-moving and dynamic industry. And yes, day-to-day, there is a lot to be done. But I would make the case that because the industry is so fast-moving, dynamic and multifaceted, it’s all the more important, as a practitioner, to have that set of self-defined principles and boundaries that you can look to for guidance and decision-making.

The end result of applying the above concepts to your PR practice: you benefit, your clients benefit and inevitably you ask yourself, “Gee, why didn’t I do this sooner?”—the same question you might ask after you finally get your finances in order.

As the saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today."

Jacob Streiter is Vice President at Rosen Group.