Know Your Options as a PR Consultant
For those choosing to go into PR—and many are, with PR projected to be one of the top 10 occupations by 2022[i]—the career options are plentiful. PR pros can work for corporations, agencies, nonprofits, start-ups, or small businesses. They can specialise in a variety of areas that fall under PR, from producing content to crisis communications to media relations and more.
So, why might a PR practitioner pursue consulting as a career path?
For those who’ve worked in-house, becoming a PR consultant can be an attractive option. Agencies tend to burn out their brightest stars with long hours and low pay. Meanwhile, those who work in corporate PR can get bogged down in bureaucracy, making it tough to feel as if they’re making a difference. This can lead to boredom or the suspicion that they’re a cog in the wheel.
Given that, more PR pros may turn to consulting as a career option. Many small and medium-sized businesses look to consultants to help out with their PR initiatives. For consultants, this relationship can be rewarding since their work directly impacts the company’s bottom line.
Further, PR consultants enjoy the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere. lowering overhead costs. If you have a phone and a laptop, you’re in business. Soloists can work with other vendors as needed, so they don’t need to hire and pay staff.
Of course, beyond the basics, consultants may want to consider additions like subscriptions to media databases, and social media monitoring software, so they can track campaign results for clients.
What are some areas of PR specialisation?
- Writing: Small and medium businesses need content—but who has time to devote to creating it? PR consultants can neatly fill this gap by writing content ranging from newsletters, blog posts, press releases, contributed articles, white papers, and case studies.
- Social media: Social media is another area in which PR pros can shine. Their ability to research topics to find content that companies can post—in addition to brand content—can help maintain a steady stream of traffic.
- Event planning: Some PR consultants excel at planning and executing trade shows, community events, and conferences for small and medium businesses that lack dedicated event staff.
- Crisis communications: It’s no secret that today’s brands can easily find themselves in hot water. Anything from an accidental social media misstep or national tragedy can affect businesses—many who aren’t equipped to handle these situations. PR consultants who specialise in crisis communications can help steer businesses down the right path.
- Media relations: Still a crucial part of a strong PR effort, the practice of media relations requires a particular skill set. The consultants that specialise in this area can help companies secure earned media opportunities.
- Thought leadership: PR consultants are primed to implement initiatives for executives that include them writing and speaking at conferences, as it requires focused effort, sometimes within a defined timetable. Fruits of such a program can feed other marketing initiatives (like social media and the company’s blog).
- Influencer marketing: A growing area of PR, influencer marketing involves how to best plug influencers into your PR and comms efforts. A consultant can help hone in on key influencers and start to build relationships on behalf of the company.
With the right framework and tools in place, hanging out a shingle as a successful PR consultant can become a reality for today’s PR pros looking for more independence and variety in their work. As the PR profession continues to change and grow, expect more comms pros to consider this increasingly popular option.