ComPRehension

Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
October 5, 2009

Forging Successful Consultant Teams


If you are a solo practitioner, you may be considering teaming with other public relations professionals to better serve your clients and compete in your market. I am a true believer in the power of teaming. In 2001, I transitioned my firm from an employee-based business model to a consultant-based business model. We eventually grew into a power team of 20 talented and dedicated independent consultants.

Yet the biggest mistake firm owners make is to form team relationships too casually. For example, you may have met a social media guru. Your client is clamoring for a PR plan that includes a healthy component of social media strategy and implementation. You’re tempted to bring her to your next client meeting.  Think it over. Consider the following steps before you take the leap and introduce any consultant to your client:

Meet face to face, or if the consultant is located out of your market, ask for examples of his or her work. Schedule an in-depth phone call. Do you share a similar business philosophy about client service?  How do you charge for your time? How do you stick to deadlines and budgets? This call will help you determine if you have found a kindred spirit.

If the answer is yes, that’s great. Draw up an independent contractor agreement to solidify the terms of your relationship. A good written agreement will establish that the consultant is working with you on behalf of YOUR client, set fees and protect agency/client confidentiality.

You can obtain a template agreement through an attorney who works with professional services firms, or – big plug – by attending my workshop and panel presentation at the PRSA 2009 International Conference.

Over time, your independent consultant relationships may blossom into wonderful friendships, as they have for me.

See you in November.

Joan Gladstone, APR, Fellow PRSA, president, Gladstone International, authored “Starting and Growing Your Own PR Firm” for PRSA in 1998. Revised in 2006, the book remains a PRSA best seller. Gladstone has presented workshops and seminars on firm management at PRSA International Conferences, Counselors Academy Spring Conferences, and Chapter events.

Join Joan for her pre-Conference seminar, “Pursue Your Dream: Starting and Growing Your Own PR Firm,” and her co-presentation, Let’s Talk Business: Independent Practitioners Share Advice for New and Established PR Practices” at the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value, November 7–10 in San Diego, CA!

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