ComPRehension

Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
November 9, 2009

On Your Own Doesn’t Mean Going It Alone


The featured speakers weren’t the only ones who offered great tips during “Let’s Talk Business: Independent Practitioners Share Advice for New and Established PR Practices,” Sunday afternoon at the PRSA International Conference.

The title of the session became even more appropriate when the Q&A period started. Attendees would ask the speakers a question, and the result would go beyond a short answer and develop into a full-blown discussion with feedback and tips from other participants.

The dialogue reinforced to me the spirit of fellowship that I’ve found since I became a public relations consultant six years ago and joined the PRSA’s Independent Practitioners Alliance Section. I may be a solo public relations pro, but that doesn’t mean I have to go it alone. I may not have co-workers, but I do have colleagues.

Gayle Falkenthal, APR, and Joan Gladstone, APR, Fellow PRSA, were co-presenters during the master class on starting your consulting business and growing it into a profitable endeavor. Myths and misperceptions were corrected, and practical advice distilled about how to avoid common mistakes.

One of my favorite points was when Falkenthal noted that consultants need to choose clients carefully since the organizations we work with represent us as much as we represent them.

Heads were nodding when Gladstone said happy solo practitioners become unemployable. Many of us know the grass is lush on our side of the fence. When you are doing what you love for clients you enjoy working with — it’s difficult to think of your business as a J-O-B. 

The freedom to work how I want, when I want, and live where I wish — that means more to me than the false sense of security and steady paycheck provided by former employers. And I don’t miss suffering through staff meetings full of politics and posturing.

Successful independent practitioners develop their own definition of success, and create a business that fits them as individual professionals. I no longer feel the need to climb someone else’s ladder.

Falkenthal’s and Gladstone’s tips were spot-on, but the true magic happened after the presentation concluded. 

The Conference session was put together by the IPA as a way to meet the needs of the growing population of consultants and freelancers who are both experienced public relations pros and business owners. 

In recent months, IPA has held member conference calls, teleseminars and our second virtual conference. Our e-group consistently has ongoing discussions full of great advice, but today’s session confirmed that there is nothing like getting a bunch of public relations pros — self-employed or not — in a room talking about how much they love what they do.

Kristie Aylett, APR, principal, The KARD Group, has 20 years of experience helping organizations communicate more effectively. She has developed strategic plans, garnered extensive media coverage, produced marketing materials, coordinated special events, and a host of other communications activities. Her background in agency, higher education, health care and municipal environments brings a well-rounded perspective to her work with KARD Group clients. Kristie is actively involved in community organizations and advancing the public relations profession. A member of the New Orleans PRSA chapter, she has been elected as the 2010 chair of the six-state Southwest District. Earlier this year, the Southern Public Relations Federation honored Kristie with its highest award, the Professional Achievement Award, in recognition of her experience and dedication to the profession. Connect with Kristie on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

For coverage of the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value, visit our Conference blog or follow the conversation on Twitter at hashtag #prsa09.

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