Why PR Professionals Are Some of the Most Educated People on the Planet

By Geo A. Ropert, APR

This year, I became intimately informed about financial fraud and how it impacts charter schools. Last year, I learned how clinical trials are conducted and what it takes to get a medical device from the drawing board to the operating room. I also learned about infrared and low-level red light therapy and how they help repair damaged cells in the human body. Over the past several years, I became an expert in smart growth principles for cities and towns, the benefits and pitfalls of child welfare systems, and how entrepreneurs and executives think and act to be successful. And that’s just a sampling of my education.

I’ve been a student all my life. It didn’t end after formal schooling and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. You see, I’m a public relations professional and the owner of a PR firm, and if we who have chosen this career want to survive we have to learn a great deal about the many fields in which our clients operate. 

We get lessons in physics, biology, advanced mathematics, geography, mechanical engineering and, if we’re lucky, how to make a great soufflé. We spend hours researching facts and data, history and trends. We learn to speak the language of a wide variety of specialists and experts. As an added benefit, we become great conversationalists at parties.

We take what we learn and turn it into stories, translating it so that potential customers, patients, participants or supporters can understand and appreciate a message that will get them to take action. Sometimes, we take mind-numbingly detailed statistics and extrapolate the information into a format that the average person can understand. Other times, we take the most basic data and turn it into written gold.

One thing we can’t do is fake it. We must take the time to understand how a product operates, the science or technology behind it; or learn why an issue is important and what will get an elected official or regulatory body to react in a way that benefits an organization or association. If we think we can get by on stringing a bunch of syllables together and hope the words make sense in the end, we’ve done a disservice to our clients and their constituents.

I have to admit, some of subjects and topics I’ve had to write about and promote are not easy to grasp or understand, and sometimes I have to have them explained to me in the most basic of terms, but that’s why they call it “learning.” And learn I will. It’s how I make a living and how I prefer to spend my life.