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.
5 solo PR pros on how to take time off when you run your own biz
This month, we asked our panel of solo PR pros to share best practices for taking time off when you run your own business.
Read on for their helpful tips.
1. Daria Steigman, Steigman Communications, llc
I have one rule: be honest with clients.
Be transparent, whether you’re taking off two days or two weeks. Your retainers are about getting work done, not indentured servitude. And people are cool about this; they take vacations too. (The ones that aren’t are not my clients.)
Now, if I’m being honest, a lot of the time I take hybrid breaks. During road trips, for example, I typically work long mornings and do fun stuff or drive later in the day. A client sprung something last-minute on me, and I gave her an option: did she need it today or tomorrow because I was going to the Monterey Aquarium. Her response: “have fun with the fishes.”
2. Kristine Gobbo, Spectrum Public Relations
For the last decade, I have contracted with communication experts to assist on client accounts. One member of my team, in particular, has become my “go to” for vacations.
For those clients who may have ongoing needs while I head out on vacation, I introduce this high-level contractor as their contact while I’m out of the office. Before I leave, she and I have a debrief on possible needs. If there is a crisis, I ask her to text me; otherwise, I trust her to handle all business when I’m out of the office. This agreement is reciprocal. I do the same for her so she can get away for vacation as well. It’s a great relationship. I think the key is that we trust each other’s judgement completely so we can get away worry-free.
I would encourage others to find this kind of partner, whether it’s so you can enjoy vacation or attend to a family emergency. Sometimes, you just need to step away.
3. Chris Kuban, Chemistry PR and Multimedia
Working through COVID with a 24/7 client engagement and connectivity cycle, it was necessary to disengage and manage my own sanity. After being vaccinated, I planned a much-needed family vacation to Florida and totally disconnected.
Here are my best practices:
Plan: Identify what you want to accomplish – rest and relaxation, touristy stuff, getting a tan or mental stimulation? Pick something on your bucket list and look forward to it. A dream of mine was to ride in a Hot Air Balloon, so I planned it. The plan for my recent trip to Florida was for ‘quality’ time with extended family.
Communicate: Notify your clients in advance that you will be completely unavailable.
Provide a back-up plan: If there is an emergency, have a trusted colleague fill-in for you.
Disengage: Enjoy yourself without pressures – Consider not using social media!
Have fun: Make memories and truly enjoy yourself.
It felt good to NOT post anything on Social while I was on vacation. We posted our photos 1-week after we returned to St. Louis. I found not having the pressures of posting the perfect photo or writing the perfect caption allowed me to truly enjoy the trip.
4. Janine Krasicky Sadaj, J9 Media Solutions
Taking time off is crucial to a happy life and a successful business. Without taking time to step away and recharge, solo PR pros and small business owners can easily become burnt out and less creative.
It’s critical to build a team of trusted colleagues to handle emergencies in your absence, including a virtual assistant who can monitor email so that nothing slips through the cracks. Giving clients advance warning of your time away will help to manage the workflow so that ongoing projects stay on track and you can truly stay offline.
Over the past 18 years, I’ve also found that going on vacation is one of my best business development strategies. I’ve had at least two or three new clients come on board after I took time off to decompress, especially when I’ve taken extended trips overseas. If you’re finding it impossible to take a full week off, build in a vacation afternoon, a short walk or spa day so that you can get away, even if it is only for a short time. Some of the best ideas have come from these mini-vacations. I promise you, you won’t regret it! After all, this is a big part of the rewards of owning our business!
5. Susan M. Stoga, Carson Stoga Communications
Taking time off is a must and the only way to do it is with good planning and a backup team. I have several trusted solos that cover me when I am off and picking the right person requires finding someone who has a similar style and approach to client service. I've found that my clients are generally respectful of time off when I communicate in advance — sending a general email out a month before, stating this on the weekly agenda and sending out info on the team that is covering for me a few days before my departure.
Having a backup is imperative for the times when the unexpected happens — the early birth or illness of a child, ill family member, or your own health crisis. I've heard many people discuss that they are afraid that someone backing them up will poach their client. The relationship is between you and the client and when that relationship is strong, it should be seen as another step in taking care of the client. Don't let fear rule your decisions.
6. Maren Minchew, MMPR
It can often be stressful thinking about taking time off when you’re a solo, but with a little planning you truly can unplug, unwind and enjoy your time away. For the last several years I have made it a priority to either only work a half day or not work at all on Fridays. I make this a priority to avoid burnout.
Here’s how to pull it off.
- Develop a support team that you trust. While I am out, I have a colleague or team member I truly trust handle any open items that need to keep moving. This is crucial to truly being able to unplug. If you don’t trust your team, you’ll find yourself checking emails, texting for updates and not truly enjoying your vacay.
- Communicate early. Tell your clients, contractors and vendors of your plans sooner rather than later. This goes a long way in being able to wrap things up before your departure and gives your team time to prepare for the extra work.
- Put in the effort before you leave. Yes, there are some Thursdays I work really late, but this allows me to take the time off knowing I have finished my tasks before I take off, and that I don’t have a pile of work waiting for me when I return.
- Set boundaries and stick to them. Once you’re out of the office, set boundaries for yourself concerning what you will and won’t allow yourself to handle when on vacation. My boundaries are only one email check a day and if I can’t handle it via my phone it will have to wait.
We want to hear from you! Share your own best practices for taking time off when you run a business. Leave your response in the comments section below or tag us on social media using #solopr.