28 May My key learning’s as a business owner with 18 years in the PR industry
I’ve had three different agencies in the last 18 years, Product Placement, bare pr, both of which were sold and one of which has since been on sold. Now I have The Generalist PR, here are a few of my key learning’s over the years.
Expect change… on all fronts
Things are always changing in media, if it’s not media itself it’s the people within the media industry. Media personalities come and go on a regular basis, that said a number of editors be it beauty or otherwise to stay within the industry but move around on a regular basis. Don’t burn bridges, you never know where people will pop up again, actually this applies to everything in life but particularly so in PR.
Relationships internally can change, staff come and go, I have had some key members of staff for three years and some last 11 years. You can’t help but get close to these people and a number of my ex staff I’d still call some of my closest friends. They take a great deal of IP with them when they go but there’s nothing you can do about that, you just need to make sure the next person is just as great. Personally I don’t employ from within the industry, I like to employ people with no PR knowledge so I can train them to do it my way and not the way they were taught but that’s a personal choice. The right PR person with the right attitude can be trained learn PR, but the wrong PR person with a bad attitude (no matter how much they know about PR) can do more damage to your business.
Change is as good as a rest and it’s inevitable, sometimes easier said than done but I try to roll with the punches.
Always be scouting and always be schmoozing
It’s vital to always be scouting for new business, see every opportunity or meeting as a chance to scout for new business (within reason) and keep it constant, don’t wait till you lose a client to start looking for a new one. Even after 18 years I still forget this rule, after all it’s easy to let this part of the business lapse, it’s not exactly everyone’s cup of tea to cold call people. Typically it takes six months from your first call, writing a proposal and presenting it to have a client sign on the dotted line and that’s being generous, some clients have taken up to three years. Be persistent without being pesky – after all, like most things in life, it’s all about timing!
Always be schmoozing, well after 18 years, it’s not really schmoozing any more, it’s more like catching up with old friends. As a good PR practitioner you should know the names of the editors/influencers children, how many children they have and the name of their pet goldfish. PR is all about relationships, so make sure you build and build them well.
As a business owner I find…
Being an entrepreneur is never easy, but if you surround yourself with the right people your business will flourish. Employ the right people for the job and your job becomes easier, however, it’s just as important as the business owner to find external sources to bounce off, whether it’s Ice House or an entrepreneurs group it’s important to have other business owners to talk to about business situations, whether you are a two million dollar business or a 20 million dollar business we all have similar issues and its important to find those people to bounce ideas around with.