Building a PR career in the Gig Economy
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Have you always had a dream of working for yourself? Are you enticed by the perks it offers like flexibility to work independently? While it’s exciting, it’s a scary prospect too. Slow career progression, limited inflow of funds and lack of a steady pay-check are not uncommon. In a traditional setup, employees are hired on a permanent basis but working as a freelancer entails working without the support of any firm and the benefits they offer to the employees. Read on if you want to build a freelance career in Public Relations.
Try gaining experience in a full-time job as it will help you make that jump to a freelance career smoother. Not only does it add to your credibility but also gives you more confidence to fly solo as you get training as well as a set of contacts you can reach out when the need arises. Begin by transitioning from a full time job to a part-time one and slowly ease your way to a solo career. Have and maintain a strong online presence by being active on social media and supplement it by content marketing via blogging to increase visibility. Get all your self-marketing essentials in order such as a website and business cards. In the beginning, to build your solo portfolio, you can seek out your friends and family who might have PR needs and offer your expertise by writing press releases, pitches, and planning events. Before you start looking for other clients to work with, do a fee assessment of what the business standard for freelance work is. In the beginning, it’ll be more of a trial and error methodology while you are trying out different price points. If you keep losing prospective clients due to price issues, adapt accordingly.
Even if you are working independently, keep networking. After all, this whole community is based on building and maintaining connections. It can get challenging without the constant support of a team in a traditional PR firm, hence it’s imperative to find alternatives wherein you are constantly in touch with professionals in the field, if not physically surrounded by the PR community. Your main source of marketing yourself in the beginning will be through referrals and word-of-mouth, hence having a strong network is crucial. It’s also important to be active on professional networks like LinkedIn by joining groups and contributing to them. You might even get a gig or two in the process.
As a solo PR professional there’ll be times when you will have a lot on your plate and doing everything wouldn’t be possible for you. Even if you have the capacity to handle multiple clients, it might get difficult to keep a track of everything. In the process, some area is bound to suffer, rising the margin for mistakes significantly. To nip that possibility, try to outsource tasks to experts. External services can be hired for mundane, mechanical and time consuming tasks like media monitoring, for managing events, hire an event management company. To get an extra set of hands, you can even hire interns who would want to get a taste of the PR work.
Be a specialist
While starting out, you might begin with a ‘do all’ attitude, but in the longer run it is better to narrow down your focus areas and market yourself as a specialist rather than trying to do it all. For example, after catering to a variety of clients across industries, you may find that you enjoy working for fashion and lifestyle brands more. Thus you can think of making your way to a career in fashion PR. Not only does this practice gives you a clear path to follow, you also improve your standing and credibility in the community and may go on to become the go-to professional in that sector. It’s nearly impossible to reach the level of agencies that offer a spectrum of services, as they have an added advantage of manpower. Doing it all also screams desperation, which is certainly not the impression you want people to have.
Nowadays, PR professionals are also expected to create graphic and video content, as well as incorporate non-traditional content styles to keep the attention of the readers. Writing a story, no matter how captivating just doesn’t cut-it these days. This can be credited to the amount of content being generated every day and for your content to stand out from the noise it should offer value in hoards. Working gigs in a business like public relations is not common. Take advantage of it being in the nascent stages. Solo PR professionals have the advantage of being able to adapt to the market as well as client needs by upskilling themselves. As they are a free bird, the shackles of a structured role doesn’t stop them from taking on a variety of roles, hence keeping themselves ready to fit into any responsibility. With the lines between marketing and PR blurring, the window of opportunity is immense. By being flexible and adaptable, one can slowly but surely build a freelance career in PR.
This article first appeared on Reputation Today.