Becoming a PR Consultant – You Can Do It!

jumping across gapIt can be scary to take the leap to independence. Unfortunately, it’s this fear that keeps so many paralyzed and stuck in jobs they don’t like, dreaming of the day they can get up the guts to take the leap. Rest assured: you can do it!

When I resigned from a PR agency to go into business for myself, the company tried to sweeten the deal to keep me on staff. I was offered a $20,000 raise (which was a lot of money in 1995) and a promotion to two positions above the one I held (which would have had me leapfrogging over my boss!). Now, what does that say to you? To me, it told me that I was, in fact, being underpaid and under-appreciated (my previous attempts to get a promotion and a raise were denied). Rather than be tempted by this offer, I was ticked – and more sure than ever that I was doing the right thing.

Many potential Solo PR Pros are in similar situations – building someone else’s business with their sweat. If this is you and you’re dissatisfied, get your house in order, and then take the leap!

You may have heard some of the myths and think, “but I’m not a high-flyer, I’m not a risk taker, I’m [insert self-doubting fear here].” Let’s take a look at a couple common misgivings:

“I’m not a high-flyer”
Here’s a secret: there are many, many companies and organizations – often those with the biggest names, and the largest bank accounts – looking for public relations and marketing communications with substance over style.

For many years (before starting this blog), I flew under the radar. I didn’t go to a million networking events, pressing the flesh and dropping names. I still don’t have a prestigious mailing address or even an extensive fancy wardrobe. What’s more, most of my friends in the business – six-figure earners themselves – operate in a similar fashion.

Of course, there’s a place for the networking-intensive PR folk, especially when helping get a startup off the ground.  The good news is, there’s enough work out there for everyone. You can succeed, regardless of your work style.

In my experience, the clients looking for substance over style are the bread and butter of the independent PR profession. Most clients do not care one iota whether you have a swanky office. All they care about is that they receive better service, at a better value, than they would get from a traditional PR agency.

“I’m not a risk taker”

You don’t have to be a risk taker. Yes, it’s an act of faith to go into business for yourself, but here’s the best part: the most frightening period is right before you take the leap. Once you’ve told your boss you’re going, the fear is lifted almost immediately, and the excitement of what you’re about to do kicks in.

You’ve no doubt heard it said that “a bad day fishing is better than a good day working.” I’ve found that a bad day as a Solo PR Pro still beats working for someone else any day of the week!

Are you in that in-between state of wanting independence, but hesitating to take the leap? What’s holding you back (anonymous comments are welcome below)? If you’re a practicing indie pro, what advice would you offer to those just about to make the jump?

  • James Gerber

    I really like this post and it spoke to me as someone currently starting on the solo PR path.

    I think fear is really something that holds most people back.  It’s definitely something that I’m still dealing with currently as I’m working to build up my solo PR client base.

    It can be really intimidating at first doing the business side of what it takes to be successful (for example, building a website, creating your own marketing plan, pitching clients) but really, if you’re working at an agency now, chances are you’ve done similar things for clients and the agency. It’s helpful to remind yourself every now and then that you have all the tools already to be successful, it’s just a matter of being committed to the execution of your ideas.

    James Gerber
    JDGPR.com

  • “You have all the tools already to be successful, it’s just a matter of being committed to the execution of your ideas.” Well said, James! Excellent perspective — thanks for sharing.

  • “You have all the tools already to be successful, it’s just a matter of
    being committed to the execution of your ideas.” Well said, James!
    Excellent perspective — thanks for sharing.

  • The encouraging, positive tone no doubt will push those hesitant over the edge! :). On a more serious note, you have to know that you’re the kind of person who can thrive on their own without the structure and/or support of a workplace. And how you deal with quiet times….and there will be quiet times…is also very telling. In short, not everyone is cut out to be self-employed and that path is by no means a panacea for what ails you in your current work.

  • This is a great point, Mitchell. In fact, I’m currently working on a post about the 5 People Who Should Never Be Solo, so we are on the same wavelength there!

    I’ve posted before about the cautions (for example, http://soloprpro.com/look-before-you-leap/), but some people just need a good old-fashioned pep talk, which this post is designed to be. My hope is that those who are considering hanging out a shingle will bookmark this post, and then come back to it when they need that final push. Appreciate you adding your thoughts to the mix!

  • Rosie Taylor

    I just took the leap this summer and yes, was offered an incentive to stay. Got me a little mad too and after reading your reaction I see that I was justified in feeling that I had been taken advantage of all those years. Yes, it’s tough but it does beat staying somewhere that doesn’t feed your soul. Thanks for the pep talk and the reminder of why I took the leap.

  • I wonder what the world would be like if companies actually appreciated their employees *before* they try to leave? Congrats to you for choosing to “feed your soul” — that’s a great way of putting it!