Kami Watson Huyse, APR is an author, award winner and the founder and CEO of digital marketing and public relations agency Zoetica Media. Plus, she teaches people how to build social media strategies and engaged communities at Smart Social Secrets.
To help you stand out and expand your business, Kami shared insights into how to take the necessary leaps to reach new heights.
Just get started: 4 tips for solo PR pros ready for the next step
Launching anything is hard. The planning phase is a warm, safe bubble we often struggle to escape, and Kami understands that, too.
Before she launched her Smart Social Secrets online course, Kami had been thinking about it for three years, then started teaching it to agencies in 2019.
However, she didn’t fully launch it until an enlightening moment at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco gave her a much-needed boost.
“I just sat there thinking, ‘The world is changing, people are going to need help, get off of yourself and launch the thing — just get started,’” she remembers.
Here’s the boost you need to take your first or next step, plus four tips to guide your growth.
1. Take the plunge and build a team
Many business owners, including solo PR pros, focus more on budgets than the bigger picture.
However, it might be time to hire help to reach the next level of your business, and it’s likely you’re in a better position to do so than you think.
After working late nights for years and being too busy to grow, Kami’s first step in building her team was to hire a virtual assistant (VA) for a few hours per month. “It was absolutely revolutionary,” she beams.
An easy way to get started with a VA is to delegate billable administrative client work or all of your email communications — or you can follow Kami’s lead and relinquish control of your calendar, especially if you struggle to manage it effectively.
Look at it this way: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Being familiar with Photoshop doesn’t make you a graphic designer, for instance, so hire a professional for needs you can’t fulfill, then allocate your free time to other business-building activities.
“The problem with doing all the work yourself is you don't have any capacity to grow,” says Kami. “When I started bringing in other professionals to work alongside me, I saw more opportunities.”
That’s why the next step after VAs is to hire part-time employees, which will open you up to even more growth opportunities — but not just work-related ones.
Having a trusted team also means you have more bandwidth for rest and relaxation, plus the thinking time you need to evaluate your business moves.
👉 If you need help figuring the right time to hire help, check out our ebook, From Solo to Boss: Hiring Your First Employee or Subcontractor.
2. Brand visibility is key
Kami’s speaker coach Pete Vargas says you have to “date S.A.M.” — otherwise known as sales and marketing. And according to Kami, it’s important for solo PR pros to date S.A.M. every single week, at least once.
Whether you share a weekly blog, video or social post, you need a piece of visibility content that consistently puts you and your brand in the view of your peers, plus current and potential clients.
For years, as she grew her business, Kami published three blogs per week (or more!) to generate more visibility.
However, to accommodate business growth and increased time limitations, she’s since pivoted to sharing one video per week — and now, thanks to the help of her team, Kami’s also been able to build and invest in her latest piece of visibility content: the monthly Smart Social Sparks newsletter.
Even if you just focus on one form of content, Kami says, “It's the gift you give yourself that keeps on giving for the rest of your career.” Blogs she wrote 10 years ago, for example, are still fruitful, because the relationships they helped her forge with leading brands hold tons of value today.
Plus, there’s this major benefit: More visibility = more work.
By teaching what she knows, the work she does, plus what works for her and her clients through free and paid offerings, Kami says “I've gotten so much more work that I didn't even expect from just being visible regularly.”
You can do the same, too, and it’s likely you have way more content than you think.
3. What’s your purpose? (Lean into it!)
Success starts with knowing your purpose.
When you first took the leap to branch out on your own as a PR pro, who did you set out to reach? How did you intend to help them?
Kami says her purpose in life is to help blossoming professionals overcome the gap of just getting started. Because of her background, she targets social media, public relations and marketing professionals, both salaried and self-employed.
“I can speak to them,” she says. “I understand where they're coming from. I’ve walked in the shoes, I've had this business for over a decade, I've been a solo, I've been a partner in a partnership, and I now have an agency on my own — I've been through all the stages.”
When you can clearly articulate your purpose, and when it includes your passions, you can be more intentional about what you choose to do and how you execute your goals.
The solo PR pro approach? Focus on the people in ways that align with your purpose.
As a business owner, keep in mind that everything is about what you provide your audience and customer base. For instance, rather than post on social media to achieve virality, post to share content that authentically reaches readers and benefits them.
Following trends can take you places, but your purpose will get you everywhere you want to be.
4. Use social media as a tool to add value and build relationships
Social media algorithms often change before we even get used to them — sometimes, platforms just shut down entirely, deleting all your content and contacts along the way.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more are all great platforms to use to bring value and stand out, but there’s no way to guarantee they’ll continue to grow your business.
Because of this, Kami says the key is to provide value that transcends platforms. “You need something to give [people]; some quick win or a taste of who you are, so they can start to get into a relationship with you.”
Here are two ways to do that on social media:
- Create content or a product people would pay for.
- Focus on community.
For your brand, consider the next step as you share valuable content.
A great way to lead people back to “owned” land like your website or newsletter — versus the “rented” land of social media — is to build an email list that’ll help you create relationships that stand the test of shifting trends and algorithms.
Now, to enhance your client’s lives and businesses, remember part of your job is to gather information to help them understand it. One way to do that? Follow your community and learn the platforms your clients favor.
However, don’t join Clubhouse just because it’s the flavor of the month, for example. Join because it’s beneficial and aligns with your clients’ needs.
With so many new, shiny tools and platforms trending weekly, be purposeful in how you use them to serve your clients and structure your business — that’s what leads to vibrant communities and relationships.
Go for it! Let yourself stand out
We all struggle with the fear of being judged or criticized for the work we put out. However, this added pressure about who we will or won’t please only serves the purpose of holding you back.
Don’t be so hard on yourself, and try to get out of your own way — after all, we’re all meant to stand out in our way.
When’s the last time you made a business move that scared you but resulted in tons of growth? All it takes is one step — let us know about the ones you’ve made in the comments or on social media using #solopr!