This article originally appeared on PR Daily in January of 2018.
It’s exciting to see how independent public relations agencies around the world are thriving.
According to The Holmes Report’s 2017 Global Communications Report, independent PR firms considerably improved performance and increased fee income by 9 percent over the prior year, and 2018 promises to have a similar positive trend.
Each year brings a new generation of entrepreneurs attracted to the thrill and challenge of starting their own PR agencies, but what does it take to launch and run a successful independent firm in today’s dynamic and often challenging business environment?
Several agency owners were willing to weigh in with advice for would-be entrepreneurs, all from the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), an international network of independent PR agencies.
Here are some of their words of wisdom for PR entrepreneurs:
Robert Bauer, asoluto (Vienna, Austria)
“Consciously change your mindset from being a PR professional to being a business leader. It means a much broader and multi-faceted challenge, and also requires additional skills: e.g., in human resource development and entrepreneurial decision-making. Making decisions for clients as their PR counsel is something different than making decisions for your own company.”
Sandy Lish, The Castle Group (Boston, MA, USA)
“Relationships are everything. This is a service business and people are the most important element of your work. Work hard to build, nurture and maintain relationships within and beyond your agency. Be a good corporate citizen, meaningfully engage with the civic and business community, and treat your clients, employees and vendors well.”
Ralph Katz, CooperKatz & Company, Inc. (New York City, NY, USA)
“Know deep in your heart the reason why you are starting a PR agency. Have passion for your mission and feel secure about your decision. Without that, you can be overwhelmed by the sheer difficulty of starting from scratch and performing at such a high level hour after hour, day after day, year after year.”
Aaron Blank, The Fearey Group (Seattle, WA, USA)
“Get inspired by other industries. Attend conferences that are not PR-centric. Go where your competitors are not! Find those holes and innovate. And always be on the hunt for new business and new staff. You are always hiring no matter what cycle you are in
Christina Rytter, Scandinavian Communications (Copenhagen, Denmark)
“You become a really great leader when you have the courage to be yourself. To trust yourself and your own ideas. Don’t be afraid to take chances or to make mistakes. It’s in the hard times that you learn the most, in both business and private life. The more you trust in yourself, the more authentic your leadership.”
Layth Dajani, The Content Factory (Dubai, UAE)
“Become a journalist first. That was one of the most important experiences I’ve ever had in my career. Fine tuning your writing and analytical skills, and understanding what goes into a good story will help in developing messaging and delivering compelling story angles when working in PR. These basic skills are essential to career growth in PR.”
What advice would you give PR pros ready to strike out on their own, PR Daily readers?
Anne Green is the president and CEO of CooperKatz, a PR firm based in New York City.