Contemplating starting your own public relations firm or solo consulting practice? One of the first questions to ask yourself is, “What will I offer to clients?” To set a course for success, select your specialization. Here’s a quick FAQ:
1. Won’t picking a niche limit me?
Not at all. The narrower your niche, the higher the demand for your services. The day of the PR generalist is gone. The greater your expertise in a particular field, the more clients will value you and the less competition you will have. Remember, as you grow your firm, you can always add new niches.
2. How do I pick my niche?
Pursue what you love to do. This is usually what you are very good at doing. Your expertise will fall in one or more of the following categories:
Industry niche — Clients prize ‘subject matter experts’ with extensive knowledge in their field. What fields — medical device, transportation, nonprofit, etc. — do you know really well?
Capability niche — Capabilities transcend specific industries. Investor relations, crisis communications, cause-related marketing and social media are examples of expertise in a specific public relations capability.
Geographic niche — Your location may be the secret to your success. Cities and public agencies often need community relations help, as do local corporations and developers. Or perhaps you have a background in the tourism industry and can help attract visitors to your region.
3. How do I market myself?
Start by creating a defining message or ‘elevator speech’ to differentiate your new firm from competitors:
“We offer expertise in (capability A) and (capability B) to (industry A) / (field B) in (geographic area).”
Now, try filling out this template. Test it on trusted colleagues. When you have a solid defining message, you’re on the road to success.
Joan Gladstone, APR, Fellow PRSA, founded Gladstone International, Inc., in 1989. She uses this defining message: “Gladstone International offers crisis communications planning and counseling to corporations, public agencies and nonprofits in Southern California.” Joan is the author of “Starting and Growing Your Own PR Firm.” Connect with Joan through LinkedIn or firstname.lastname@example.org.