For those who want to escape office politics, public relations offers a superb opportunity. All you need is a computer system and a phone, and you’re in business. Budding entrepreneurs with experience in a PR agency know there is no good reason for them to be in the office other than to remain under the watchful eyes of their superiors.
Clients do not typically come to the office, and even once a month meetings can be held at a restaurant or in the client’s headquarters. Some clients do not even require this much contact. International organizations conduct all their business by email, and there is no product to sell other than the words in the documents created by the PR professional.
The most difficult aspect of founding a public relations agency involves finding new clients. If you feel well-trained in the public relations profession, you have probably developed some relationships you can use to generate business. Just remember you may not win the client on the first or second approach; it can take well over five meetings to close the deal. However, you must follow every lead, be persistent and have confidence in yourself.
I find it very helpful to get the prospect to lunch. Strategizing over a meal provides a much more favorable environment than an office meeting to make the sale. Moreover, if the prospect won’t meet with you at lunch, it probably means he/she is considering a whole slew of candidates, and you are unlikely to win a competition among 10 or 20 people. Thus, lunch serves as a winnowing tool to keep you focused on the most likely future clients.
Finally, as a public relations expert, you already know how to promote other organizations. Just apply that knowledge to your own company: send out press releases and e-newsletters; write blog posts; and stay on the cutting edge of your field.
More on becoming a public relations entrepreneur in future posts.