Personal empowerment and excellent work are the qualities of a micro public relations agency. But it’s not for the faint hearted, says Ella Minty, Reputation Management Consultant.
Profile: freelance agency
Insight: independent practitioners can operate at the highest levels in practice and are limited only by personal ambition and skills
Being a freelancer in public relations is not a career choice contemplated by many although it should be. It comes with a distinct set of challenges and, at the same time, an abundance of opportunities and multitude of stress-tests.
To begin with, you need to have a very strong character and be an articulate individual: of utmost relevance is your ability to relate not just to the teams you are a part of or lead but, also, to weigh in the various agendas at play in a project.
Skills and continuous learning
Your listening and analytical skills are far more important than your oral prowess and a cautious yet polite approach to team and leadership dynamics will serve you best.
Being a freelancer is about independence and freedom of choice - the former comes from the lack of conventional office restrictions and latter from being your own master: you choose which clients you want to take and which projects to work on.
You don’t necessarily have to be self-employed: you can hold a full-time/part-time job and freelance, too; sometimes you may even have another business to run.
Freelancing provides you with that special position to do what you want, how you want it and for whom you choose to do it.
You can’t be a successful freelance without a very solid educational background and relevant training: you need to constantly study, read and keep abreast with the latest developments in your specialism.
Senior staff expectation
Freelancing comes with very high client expectations, generally surrounding you hitting the ground running: you are not a trainee nor can you be a junior. Clients and their staff look up to you and bring you in for your expertise – you need to prove your value and remember that you have no safety blanket nor an agency to back you up: you’re on your own.
Freelancing has its challenges: you work, lead and steer through different corporate and individual cultures, you manage in-house teams and direct agency staff, you become privy to all sorts of office politics and you may not have someone to pilot ideas or brainstorm with.
You need to be a self-starter and a very accomplished, self-sufficient individual. The most important part is to steer clear from egos.
Opportunities are never scarce when it comes to freelancing: you work on different projects, you get almost constantly professionally and ethically challenged and you need to quickly learn where the barriers are.
In doing so, you build some incredible networks that are much stronger than the usual coffee room chat and have much longer shelf-life. You also have the opportunity to assess your own knowledge gaps and those of others while mentoring, coaching, developing and setting up various corporate structures and teams.
The best part of it all is that, sometimes, when you look back and take stock of the impact of your work it can be hugely satisfying.