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5 Solo PR Pros Share Best Practices for Working With Subcontractors

Just because you’re a solo PR pro doesn’t mean you’re in this alone. There’s a whole community of like minded people you can lean on.

In this monthly series, we ask five Solo PR Pro members to share their best tips, tricks and resources for managing their solo business.

Working with subcontractors, according to 5 solo PR pros

This month, we asked our panel of solo PR pros to share their best practices for working with subcontractors.

Read on for their helpful tips.

1. Maria Coppola, APR, CPRC, Coppola Public Relations

I think it’s very important, just like we do with all our clients, to develop and agree to a scope of work before you proceed. Setting expectations, goals and parameters helps us all get what we want out of business relationships. A simple contract can help solve a lot of issues before they arise. Make sure you stipulate your policy on direct client contact and non-circumvention. Define if your subcontractor is having direct client contact and how you’ll manage those meetings/conversations.

The other thing that is important is transparency with your client. Is this subcontractor representing their interests outside the internal audiences? For example, are they ghostwriting for you or are they pitching journalists – there is a huge difference. Your client should know you’ve assembled a team for them and the entire team is trained to represent the client the exact way you would yourself.

2. Susan M. Stoga, Carson Stoga Communications, LLC

Subcontractors are a great way to expand your capabilities and ability to serve your clients. Here are some thoughts I have after 21 years in business:

  • Do be upfront and honest with your subcontractor about deadlines, client expectations and your own expectations.
  • If at all possible don't wait until the last minute to locate subcontractors. Start inquiring the minute you have an inkling you might need someone or even start taking notes for when you do. The unexpected illness, family situation or expanded project happens but poor planning is generally not a good reason to put tough deadlines on someone else.
  • Do ask a subcontractor to sign a confidentiality agreement before you start discussing client details. 
  • Do confirm the project scope, hours, rate and payment terms in an email before work begins. Good subcontractors will do this as well. 
  • Understand that if you are assigning work to a contractor, you, not the client, own the payment process. Do not make your subcontractor wait until the client pays you to pay them. 
  • Don't bid on a piece of business where you have no expertise and then try to find a subcontractor to do all the work. The best fit for the client, and for the team, is when you have expertise in a field or a parallel field and need a subcontractor to round out your team. You won't be serving yourself, the client or the subcontractor well.

3. Lorraine Hamby, Hamby Communications

Find subcontractors you enjoy working with. As a solo consultant, your contractor relationships can be the core of your own mini work-culture. So, find folks who not only get the work done, but bring some positive energy! That hard-to-define spark of gelling with someone is important— you can find yourself being more creative, productive and satisfied with your work.

Think creatively about subcontractor roles. Help for low-level tasks may be what you need. But you could also partner with a peer to brainstorm on strategy, or to take on bigger projects. Bring in non-PR pros such as an excel programmer or a research expert who can help you deliver a well-designed survey for generating news-grabbing headlines.

4. Kahshanna Evans, Kissing Lions Public Relations

There's nothing more glorious than reaching for separate-but-together scalable solutions that are compatible with a post-pandemic economy. The new golden rule is niche consultancies are capitalizing on growing tiny armies of highly-valued vendors and minimizing needless back-and-forth about budget and workflow. 

It's time to retire ‘show me yours and I'll show you mine's'—at least for now. As we forge new best practices, being transparent can easily now be an act of good faith that can lead to new business and help us grow. When an irresistible offer is laid on the table for knuckle-biting talent, make it happen.”

5. Paula Johns, Paula Johns Communications, Inc.

Hiring subcontractors has allowed me to focus on what I do best — and I can’t imagine doing business without them. 

Those solos working in California should familiarize themselves with California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), which is legislation that went into effect last year. It's known as the “gig worker” bill and is designed to extend employee classification status to some of these workers. I'd recommend speaking with your accountant to make sure you're aware of AB5 exemptions and following all the rules for working with independent contractors. 

We want to hear from you! What are your tips for working with subcontractors? Leave your response in the comments section below or tag us on social media using #solopr.