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Business Acumen for Strategic Communicators: A Primer

Business Acumen for Strategic Communicators: A Primer PDF

Author: Matthew W. Ragas and Ron Culp

Publisher: Emerald Publishing


Publish Date: March 1, 2021

ISBN-10: 1838676627

Pages: 336

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

These two timeless pieces of professional advice from the late Betsy Plank, often called the “First Lady of Public Relations,” have perhaps never been more prescient as the strategic communication profession enters a new dec-ade (PRWeek, 2015; Public Relations Society of America, Inc., 2019). A long-time resident of Chicago, Plank was a trailblazing public relations executive with a deep commitment to public relations education, including co-chairing the precursor to the Commission on Public Relations Education and play-ing a central role in the formation of the Public Relations Student Society of America.
After decades of arguing that communication needs a seat at the lead-ership table and to advise those “in the room where it happens,” this has become more the reality in recent years. Earning and keeping the trust of stakeholders and creating societal value – not just financial value – has become an imperative for many chief executive officers and C-suite leaders. The concomitant rise of the chief communications officer (CCO) in many larger organizations has resulted in strategic communication finally becom-ing more strategic – not just being responsible for crafting messages that announce C-suite decisions, but serving as trusted advisors to the C-suite in the formulation of such decisions. This shift and elevation of the com-munication function has accelerated the mix of competencies expected of not just CCOs, but of everyone in the profession, as they seek to work more effectively with often MBA-trained businesspeople.

The book you are holding in your hands or reading on your screen represents our latest effort to help boost the confidence and business acumen of strategic communication professionals, particularly younger practitioners and students. The world has changed significantly since the publication of our first book, Business Essentials for Strategic Communicators: Creating Shared Value for the Organization and its Stakeholders, some seven years ago.

Since the publication of Business Essentials, a growing number of colleges and universities have overhauled their curriculum to include coursework on business acumen. Similarly, more agency and in-house training programs are emphasizing business acumen.

We are grateful for the feedback of the countless educators, students and professionals who helped shape this book. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is a defining issue of our time. We have made an intentional effort to feature more diverse voices in this book.

Business Acumen is divided into five sections: an introduction to strategic communication and business acumen; a look at three guiding approaches to business that are increasingly prevalent in the C-suite; the people at the core of the relationships within and among business and society today; a dive into the essentials of the money and the numbers for communicators; a look at the business models of agencies and consultancies, and in-house communication teams and departments; and a final chapter on business acumen and professional development, which is chock full of actionable advice for putting into practice beyond the pages of the book.

Students and professionals alike are starved for time today as they juggle competing demands and more available media options than ever before. In the business world, this has even impacted the pace and length of meetings. Increasingly, less is more. With Business Acumen, we have tried to adopt a writing style that is conversational and accessible, as well as to make the chapters as concise as possible. The net result is to allow the reader to com-plete at least one chapter per sitting and to give you a sense of accomplish-ment and progress after each reading.

Every chapter includes an “Expert Insight” sidebar essay authored by a senior communication leader. At the end of each chapter, there are a set of discussion questions and keywords to review. Back by popular demand, Business Acumen features an updated and expanded glossary of business terms. To become fluent in the language of business means learning its vocabulary. The reference section is also updated and expanded. The sub-title of this book is very much intentional. Our goal with this book is for it to serve as a primer on developing your business acumen. We hope you will use the extensive reference section to help you dive deeper into the subject matter. We always welcome your feedback and comments.
In conclusion, two more timeless pieces of advice from Betsy Plank come to mind: invest something in the profession you practice and consider work as grown-up play. In this spirit, we hope you find this book to be a worthy investment by us back into a field which has provided us with so much opportunity and satisfaction. Further, we hope this book shows that learning about the world of business doesn’t need to be boring – and dare we say it – can even be fun.

Matt Ragas Ron Culp DePaul University Chicago, IL.

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