PR Goes Back To School: MBA Programs Talk Reputation

Brendan McManus  Follow

After a week of scandals, blowups, layoffs and tragedies, it's never been more apparent to me how our world can be so uprooted, so halted, and so unnerved by the unexpected, the gruesome and sometimes the heartbreaking.  How do you announce that 5,000 people will lose their job in perhaps the worst job market in recent memory?  How do you prepare a vilified chief executive to face a congressional panel wondering how a billion dollars can vanish overnight?  How do you announce the sudden death of a college freshman, as my alma mater had to do on Tuesday?

These may seem like nightmarish days at the office for any individual, and they are, but for us—for communications professionals around the world—we deal with these situations every single day.  Unfortunately, there is no way to prepare.  I never had a "How to announce the death of a CEO" case study in my college business classes or communications classes (and that was my second week on the job!).  If only there were, at least for the brightest of us...

Thanks to some of the country's leading business schools, there will be.

According to a recent article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Paul Argenti (a professor at Dartmouth University's Tuck School of Business) explains how PRSA will be instrumental in gradually incorporating the "art of corporate communication and reputation management" into the curriculum of a select group of business schools. Jen Prosek shared her thoughts on this article earlier in the week as well.

I especially like how this program is intended to educate rising leaders of the significance of our industry and our role, but more importantly demonstrates the weight that major business decisions or even a few words can carry and affect so many.  I’m sure every company’s legal team would sleep better if the C-suite executives were more cautious at every move.  These case studies would surely make me a more cautious decision-maker.

My greatest hope though is that our world's future executives do not go running for the door, but forever keep a seat in the boardroom open for their communications adviser. CJP

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