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Tips for Solo PR Practitioners

ktphoto 822 Tips for Solo PR Practitioners

This is a guest post by Alison Kenney, a Boston-based independent PR practitioner with over 15 years of experience in the field.

More and more PR pros are going solo these days.   Often the economy is tipping their hand — striking out on their own after a lay-off or finally calling it quits themselves as a result of a "now or never" attitude.  I′ve been a solo PR practitioner for the past 8 years and have these tips to share from what′s worked for me:

There′s a difference between freelancing and consulting.
Freelancing is essentially working for someone else — sub-contracting with another agency or an employer.  Consulting is when you interface with a client directly and run the project or program.  With either role you are self-employed, must fill out a 1099 tax form, and typically concede receiving any benefits.  Consultants tend to earn more than freelancers and take on a more strategic role.  Solo practitioners can do either (and both!) but it helps to know the terminology so you′re on the same page as prospective employers.

Don′t burn bridges.

If PR is all about reputation management, then being a solo PR practitioner, where you rely heavily on referrals and word-of-mouth leads, means relationships are king!  The PR industry can be a small world, where job turnover means yesterday′s client is tomorrow′s"¦client.

Focus. Working on your own is liberating, but all the "unstructured" time can also distract you from accomplishing your goals.  If you end up freelancing or consulting for work/life balance reasons, e.g. having more time for children, be sure to set specific goals.  Be clear about what your client goals are versus what you want to accomplish with your new flexible schedule.  Having an office space, hiring childcare and setting work hours will increase your odds of meeting these goals.

Understand your source(s) of business. подборка эротических приколов The Reader порно трусики PR is different from some other service businesses.  Clients don′t typically look in the phone book or follow up on a coupon to find someone who can build and promote their company brand.  They are guided by referrals from trusted sources and to get those referrals you will most likely have to develop and care for your network.

Alison Kenney is 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 can be reached at

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5 Comments - Add yours!

Kristina Allen (September 28th, 2009)

This is a great quote ” The PR industry can be a small world, where job turnover means yesterday’s client is tomorrow’s…client.” and one that summarizes what networking is all about: don’t burn your bridges!

Great post, thanks!

Nicole Messier (September 28th, 2009)

Great post Alison — a couple of quick things I would add:

1. Working on your own means being alone — so strike up a network of other contractors so you can provide yourself some company and to brainstorm or run ideas by. I find my clients benefit greatly once I’ve brainstormed with fellow self-employed PR colleagues.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help — it’s all too often that you find yourself writing whitepapers or contributed content and need the help of an outside pair of eyes. Not just to catch those pesky edits, but to also make sure it makes sense and stays on point.
3. Save 30 percent of everything you make in a low or no interest barring checking account — the tax bill will definitely creep up on you at the end of the year.

Kristie Aylett (September 28th, 2009)

This is a great post with lots of good information. Thanks to Lindsay for having you as a guest here.
I’ve been an independent PR consultant for nearly six years now, and I agree with your advice. Some solo pros are perfectly happy as freelancers and handle assignments from their clients; others want more of a say in their client’s communications efforts and serve as counselors. As you point out, it’s not either-or; an indy practitioner can take on both roles. Mixing the two has been an integral part of my business plan. For some clients, I’m the writer or publicist; for others, I counsel them on overall communications activities. Sometimes, the client stays the same, but their situation may change, and thus so does my role. The secret is knowing which role you prefer and the expectations of your client.
I look forward to reading more of your insights.

Alison Kenney (September 28th, 2009)

Nicole – your tips are spot-on, especially the tax advice! :-)

There’s a great peer group for solo PR professionals on Twitter, #solopr, for anyone interested in tapping into more insight on working solo in PR. Every Wednesday on Twitter the group has an hour-long live chat starting at 1 pm ET.

shine2u (June 22nd, 2010)

I loved this article! The tips are helpful! I like that you differentiate and clarify between consulting and freelancing. Would you recommend a new PR grad to take a solo pr route?

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