Solo PR pros, here’s some good news as we head into 2023: It’s a great time to be doing what you do.
A report from Axios highlights how “many startups, VCs and agencies are scouring for communication consultants, and the opportunities are ripe for those looking for flexible, lucrative work.”
Plus, freelancers and independent consultants tend to be happier with their work. MBO Partners released new data in November showing that people who are working on their own are happier, healthier and more financially secure than our traditionally employed counterparts.
In a recent episode of That Solo Life: The Solo PR Pro Podcast, hosts Karen Swim and Michelle Kane discuss in further detail how it’s an especially booming time of opportunity for PR pros working as solos.
Ignore the misinformation of doom and gloom
As a PR pro, you know the power of a headline. And perhaps you also understand that they’re sometimes misleading.
Today, you might hear lots of negative comments about the workforce, with an emphasis on words like “recession” and “layoffs.” But the reality is that many sectors had to hire up during the pandemic to deal with new demands.
“I think a lot of what we're seeing is a course correction,” says Michelle. “The need for certain things just isn't there.”
Karen adds that in sectors like technology, which she does a lot of work in, there’s been many headlines about massive layoffs.
“Our minds immediately go to, ‘Oh, my God, the sky is falling,’” she says. “But by all accounts, there was a huge bloat in technology, so it was cutting away the fat. And I don't mean to diminish those workers who lost their jobs.”
It’s important to realize that sometimes you hear reports on the news that get shared over and over, like stories about a poor economy or threats of a recession, but when you dig in a bit deeper, the data doesn’t match up.
“I want all of us out there to be aware of that and, as communicators, to carry the flag of keeping the real information at the forefront as best we can,” Michelle says.
Embrace the transactional
PR pros are relationship-driven by nature. And for good reason.
But sometimes, people just want help with a one-off project. Embrace those opportunities.
“Projects are amazing,” says Karen. “My favorite is two to three months, because there's a beginning, a middle and an end. These people are not interested in the long term, for different reasons.”
She cautions to be careful, though, and vet the projects the same way you would a retainer client. But projects are a great way to test a client before you potentially explore the possibility of a long-term relationship.
Michelle adds that by partnering with a company for a project, you can provide your expertise and then move on until the need arises again.
“It's a great opportunity for us to solos to learn about different industries, keep our skills sharp and grow our experience,” she says.
Showcase your solo PR pro assets
There are numerous reasons companies are turning to Solo PR Pros for their expertise, and it’s not just because of an uncertain market and cost efficiencies.
“You offer your clientele the benefit of having a window into multiple sectors of an industry, so unlike working in-house where you have the viewpoint of only one company, you can bring a much richer perspective to your client,” Karen explains.
Both Karen and Michelle agree you should avoid selling yourself to clients based on price.
“That's going to attract a certain type of client that down the road you don't like, because they're focused solely on the price and not the value of the work,” says Michelle.
Rather, highlight your strengths and what you can bring to the table that perhaps a full-time hire couldn’t.
“Being an independent person doesn't mean that you are the lower cost choice,” Karen says. “It means that you are the agile, efficient choice, and you're giving companies the freedom to pay for what they need and not more than that.”
One key strength you should showcase to potential clients is your efficiency — something leadership especially sees as a bonus. For example, Karen doesn’t do weekly client meetings because they take up a lot of time. Instead, she holds them monthly. That’s an efficiency tool for her.
What to do in 2023 to make it your best year yet
So, how can you best sell your strengths this year?
“Look at your marketing, look at your messaging, look at how you're talking about your solo business,” Karen offers. “Hit on points that are going to resonate with not only in-house teams, but with leaders, with CEOs, with founders. What is going to make you stand out to them and for them to say, ‘You know what, that sounds really good?’”
And even if it doesn’t feel natural, you have to talk about what you do, even to people who think they might already know. Being top of mind matters.
To market yourself, anything can work: newsletters, ads, social media, you name it.
“The key is that you choose at least one way, and I am a fan of using multiple tactics, to market yourself and do it consistently,” Karen says.
But to really be amazing and land opportunities, it’s all about how you follow up.
“You have got to be willing to get in there and dig in,” Karen says. “You can't be afraid to follow up. You can't be afraid to chase stuff down.”
Karen and Michelle are both hopeful about the year ahead.
“Going into 2023, knowing that there is a strong need for people who have agility and flexibility, there should be not a single solo who is not having their best year yet,” Karen says. “I challenge you all to have your best year. Make it your intention right now.”
Are you looking to shine in your PR business this year? Follow us for tips to help you start or grow your Solo PR business.
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