Almost four years ago, I officially embarked on my solo public relations career and created JRM Comm, a PR and marketing consultancy. I always dreamed of being my own boss, so when the opportunity did arise, I was excited and eager to take on the solo PR world. I have not regretted the move because it has also given me the opportunity to speak to small businesses, PRSSA chapters, and work with outstanding clients.
The thing about being a solo PR pro is that you get to work in your own environment. Maybe that is a home office, a local coffee shop, or co-working space. You also get to work with clients you enjoy and they (mostly) respect your insight and guidance. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have hired you. But, it’s not easy.
Let me be completely honest with you… being a solo PR pro is a ton of sweat and incredibly hard work. Don’t be fooled into thinking that when you go solo, you’ll have clients lining up waiting for you. Even if you have years of experience, you’ll need to prove yourself to clients, big and small.
Just like working for an agency, you will need to focus and put in long hours, at times. When the day comes to an end, you’ll be wiped. Frankly, your day may not wrap up at 5 p.m. There are times when I work well into the night.
You really have to want it… badly. If you don’t like your job and think that being on your own will solve everything, you are going about it wrong. Running my own business invigorates me, BUT there’s been plenty of frustration and bumps. If you just go halfway, you are halfway to failing.
The key to being a solo pro, I believe, is the ability to balance the passion for your work and the life you lead outside of it. I have a wife and two young children at home, so I’m cognizant of the responsibility I have to my clients, but also to my family. If you think communication is important with your clients, it’s doubly important when it comes to being a solo pro and a parent/spouse.
Let me give you a few quick tips for those that are eager to start a solo journey or have been doing it for a bit.
- Honesty- This goes without saying for working with clients, but you need to be honest with yourself as a solo pro. You will drive yourself crazy if you allow the business to take over your mind. Figure out what your “breaking point” may be in your work. You don’t want to burn out in three months. Understand that while you’d like to be a solo PR superhero, even heroes need a break.
- Be prepared for an adjustment period- I can’t stress this enough because even though I’ve been at this for a bit, I’m still adapting to being my own “boss.” If you think you can just jump into being on your own, you can’t. Understanding the financial side of your business is as much work as pitching yourself to a potential client.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help- I was incredibly blessed to have had the guidance of a number of trusted solo pros as I started out. If I had a question or concern, they didn’t sugar coat things, but they also didn’t make me feel as if I was crazy. Your network could not only be key to future work, but for asking questions.
This isn’t about discouraging you from going out on your own. I like to be straightforward since there were so many that were honest with me about my solo PR journey. Ultimately, your chances at success are greater if you know the truth. I’m still learning… and don’t want to stop doing so. My current and future clients, as well as my life outside the office, will be better for it.
Jason Mollica (@JasMollica) is the president of JRMComm, a public relations and social media marketing consultancy. He combines knowledge of the broadcast news industry, traditional public relations expertise and today’s new and innovative social media tools. Jason writing can be found on Ad Age-ranked PR Breakfast Club, Ragan.com as well as across PRSA’s network. You can also read more from Jason at his blog One Guy’s Journey.