In the world of PR, solo practitioners have a bit of mystery about them. Without an affiliation to an organization they can be hard to place. And while each individual PR professional has their own unique qualities, here are a few universal truths about solo PR pros that you may not have known:
Solo PR pros are self-motivated – working independently means they come up with their own program ideas and strategies and put it all into action themselves. While there is give-and-take with clients, solo PR pros have to be their own boss when it comes to staying motivated and delivering results. Consider also that solos take on the risk of finding work and keeping their income flowing steadily.
They can become your most dedicated partners – depending on the nature of their PR work (i.e. short projects versus long-term programs), most solo PR pros work with a small circle of clients at one time. Each client is therefore important to them and their workload. They also may be able to accommodate certain needs or workstyles in a way that a larger PR agency can’t do.
Not all types of solo PR pros are the same – I like to categorize independent PR practitioners as either a freelancer or consultant. Freelancers will take on projects or pieces of projects, such as writing, researching, etc., or may fill in as a PR team member for a temporary period, while a consultant will play a more strategic role and take on the development, as well as the execution, of a PR program.
Their work is personal – many choose to go solo for lifestyle reasons, e.g. to balance work with other needs such as child care, a serious hobby or relationship, or perhaps just because they like the freedom of working for themselves. Being the one who calls the shots also means they typically can pick work that interests them personally.
They have a niche – unlike big PR agencies that can serve a wide range of client types in different industries because they have a large staff to draw upon, a solo PR pro’s niche is defined by their actual experiences. This might be obvious, but with those solo practitioners who don’t call out their specialty, potential clients will have to ask questions and find out more about the person, their experiences and how they work. Most PR pros wouldn’t have the guts to go solo if they didn’t possess a solid command of all the PR basics, and they may say they can apply their expertise to any type of program, but a look at their experience and current roster of work will tell you what their area of expertise is.
The name “solo” is misleading – independent practitioners wouldn’t survive without networks that include connections from pre-solo days, professional associations, partners and other supporters.
Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.