Blogger: Mary Dorn, APR (Volusia/Flagler Chapter0
Solo PR “Ask the Experts” Workshop
Presented by: Kellye Crane, Lanette Hart, APR, CPRC, and Karen Swim
Each year at Annual Conference, business entrepreneurs have the opportunity to pick the brains of a panel of self starters. Jay Rayburn, APR, CPRC, who introduced this year’s session, said the people attending the panel consider it a must-see for its importance to their businesses. He stressed to remember to charge for overhead and profit. Professionals have a right to both.
This year, FPRA and Solo PR Pro representatives divided up the panel to focus on specific concerns for small business owners and consultants. Lanette Hart, APR, CPRC, presented “Taking the Plunge” for those nervous about getting started. Karen Swim gave financial tips in her “New Business / Fees” segment. Kellye Crane presented “PR Skills / Client Management.” Interestingly, the three had similar advice, and each started with national or international clients before focusing on local business.
Lanette Hart, APR, CPRC, founder and principal of Hart & Associates LLC, said getting started was a process that took 13 years of thought. She identified herself with her past employer, Bank of America, was raising four boys, and had concerns about launching a business during the financial crisis. To make the move to a solo practitioner three years ago, she first developed an exit strategy and chatted with others who’d tried going solo in business. Hart stressed the importance of networking, to help “pull together the right team” so there is no work overload. Don’t kill yourself doing all the work.
Her mantra throughout the session was “learn to think like a business person.” By anticipating dry spells in an industry, she knows when to move to the next type of client or plan for a steady salary during less-busy seasons.
Kellye Crane, Crane Communications Ltd. and founder of Solo PR Pro, also believes in networking, but prefers to network on a national level. When contacts move to another company, that is an opportunity to gain a new client. She tends to maintain a client base of similar industries.
Crane reminded a participant who asked how to prove her value to clients that what is difficult to others should be second nature to a public relations professional.
Getting the outside perspective is important to Crane, to enable a professional to “feel less like an island.”
Karen Swim, President of Solo PR, said to never stop conducting business development. She sets month-to-month priorities and sets aside an hour per week to work on attracting future clients. Make a list of 10 prospects and research them before outreach. Patience is a virtue….
“You don’t always meet a client and close on the contract the next week. It’s a process,” Swim said. If ideas run dry, she reaches out to her own contacts and past clients that she is available to help people they may know.
Swim stressed to be bold about finding out what you can charge in each market and charging that fee, instead of lowering your value. If the client is not the right fit, know when to walk.
Favorite Resources, tools:
Hart: Her different networks for job different aspects, including FPRA and mentors. Many apps have helped her.
Crane: LinkedIn groups, Dropbox.
Swim: Smart phone: with all the apps available, she can conduct all business from her phone. Her support network in SoloPRPro is a resource. Also: MBO Partners’ online calculator to plan expenses/income.
Hart: Think like a business person instead of just planning to replace a past salary. Find a mentor and build your network to hire help when you need.
“Understand who you want to serve, what kinds of problems you solve and don’t be afraid to say, ‘You don’t fit me as a client’.””
Crane: Dream big. She agrees with Lanette Hart that you shouldn’t plan to just replace past salary. She started young so dreams played into it.
Swim: Don’t let fear hold you back or keep you from charging what you’re worth. Even 12 years after starting, she admits that at times, it’s still scary for her.
Kellye Crane is an accomplished, award-winning communicator with more than 20 years of experience in integrated marketing communications who has offered strategic planning, content strategy, press/influencer relations and technical writing services to some of the world’s largest companies, including ADP, Alaven Pharmaceutical, BellSouth, The Coca-Cola Company, IBM, Intel McKesson and Microsoft. Founder and past president of the popular Solo PR Pro blog for independent public relations consultants, Crane is frequently listed as one of the most influential PR professionals in the United States.
Lanette Hart, APR, CPRC, is one of two representatives for the Florida Public Relations Association on the Universal Accreditation Board. She has more than 24 years of experience in various aspects of corporate communications, public relations, marketing and journalism. She is the principal consultant and founder of Hart & Associates LLC, providing corporate communications/PR expertise and business management to private corporations and government agencies. Previously, Hart worked for 19 years as a global communications strategist with Bank of America, one of the world’s leading financial services companies. Hart is an award winning and recognized speaker. She delivers big picture thinking combined with actionable tips you can use right away to make a difference in your organization.
Karen Swim is an accredited public relations professional who has run her own virtual agency for more than a decade. She brings to her PR work an unusually rich background in sales, human resources, business and marketing, having started her career in HR in the banking industry and going on to lead top performing sales teams at Glaxo SmithKline and Quest Diagnostics. Swim’s extensive experience as a consultant includes engagements providing high-level strategic counsel and content to B2B, technology, healthcare, nonprofit and lifestyle companies. She also ran a career marketing division of her company for seven years, where she coached independents and corporate professionals and helped them achieve their career goals.