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How to establish and maintain a satisfying and successful public relations career or consultancy

by Marie Yossava CPRP


Tip 1 – Passion for what you do
Whatever you do, never enter the public relations industry and set up a consultancy just to make money; enter because you have a passion for it. This applies to any business you are thinking of establishing, because if you don’t have a passion for the work, you will not be able to ride out the downturns and challenges that come with running and managing a successful agency.

Tip 2 – Determine what motivates you
Begin by determining what drives and motivates you. If selling stories, writing strategies, being creative by exploring new angles and thinking laterally stimulates you, then public relations is a good career choice. A cross-section of clients from different industries will continually challenge and simulate your creative abilities and widen your knowledge. The ability to work with people and build relations are pre-requisites for running a public relations consultancy.

Tip 3 – Gain work experience
It is important to have gained practical experience at other consultancies or as an in-house public relations executive for a few years. Fresh out of varsity and setting up your own business will add no value to a client’s business and gives the industry a bad name, due to your lack of experience in the field. It will also be difficult to gain clients as you have no track record or testimonials. Public relations consultants, who operate at management level, have industry knowledge and business acumen that only comes with experience.

Tip 4 – Skill set
Running a consultancy requires a wide range of knowledge over and above your acquired professional public relations/media skills. This knowledge includes financial management and compliance, HR and procurement, legal framework for contracts for clients and employees, understanding public policy and ethics in terms of legislation, as well as marketing skills to build your brand. You need to understand how to run a business and have the personality to manage people, as well as clients. Public relations consultants are not exposed to these business skills when employed by a consultancy.

Tip 5 – Network
If you don’t have the capital to recruit managers, HR consultants, labour experts and financial advisors, surround yourself with other professionals and draw from their knowledge to ensure that you are up-to-date in terms of best practice and legislation. Network at every opportunity, whether it is a business or social event.

Tip 6 – Ideal characteristic for a professional public relations consultant
The word ‘tenacious’ comes to mind. You simply cannot afford to give up, for instance when a client is unhappy or a journalist doesn’t respond although you have a relevant news story. Persist. Obviously there is a fine balance between making a nuisance of yourself and burning bridges, but experience and intuition will soon set that right.

Tip 7 – Creativity
Think out of the box – look at a product, service or project from more than one perspective. This helps to give a public relations project or campaign longevity.

Tip 8 – Customer service
Clients expect quick responses and feedback. Put policies and procedures in place with guidelines in terms of turnaround times for responses to client calls, emails and reports. This will set you apart from other consultacies.

by Marie Yossava CPRP from Grapevine Communications


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