STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS FOR OPENING YOUR OWN PR AGENCY

22 June 2022 Emma Miller

Today, businesses can't just have good products and reliable services - they also need a good team to promote them. Often, to heighten their communication with customers, businesses look to engage the services of a Public Relations agency to help raise their brand's profile in the minds of their target consumers.  

A PR agency is often employed to help brands share their story in a way that consumers will engage with and trust. And to do this, PR professionals look to earned media outlets like print and TV news, along with new forms of digital media like blogs, vlogs and social as vehicles to help their clients share their stories. If you think you have what it takes to run a PR agency, here are a few pointers on how to get started. 

"If you think you have what it takes to run a PR agency, here are a few pointers on how to get started."  

1. Gain experience

Mastering a skill requires a lot of work, and the best way to learn is through experience. People with qualifications in marketing, journalism and communications will definitely have many advantages when entering the world of PR, however little tops first-hand experience of working with clients.

Before contemplating opening your own agency, gain as much of this practical experience as you can to ensure you can ride the waves through the good times, and the not-so-good.  

"...gain as much of this practical experience as you can to ensure you can ride the waves through the good times, and the not-so-good." 

2. Choose a niche

In industries like PR, it's wise to choose a niche that will help hone your focus. When choosing this niche, it's often best to take into account both your interests as well as your experience to heighten the chances you continue to enjoy the work you do. For instance, you might specialise in tech projects, consumer projects or B2B content marketing. Maybe you prefer public affairs. Or do you like luxury consumer goods the best?

At the point of starting your own business, you are also able to elect whether you want to look to grow the business into a national or potentially international business as well. If you do choose international, you'll need to consider which regions you want to service, as this will impact on the sorts of clients you're able to work with. Working across different sectors AND countries/time zones can be very demanding, but it also offers rewards, so weigh your options carefully.  

"In industries like PR, it's wise to choose a niche that will help hone your focus." 

3. Form a legal entity

Before you start taking clients, make sure to jump through the requisite hoops and choose one of the many business structures available to you: sole proprietor, partnership, company etc. Do your homework and get advice since it's important to structure your business in a way that works for you.

For example, you might want to run the business as a company to reduce the chance of being sued for personal liability. It's also necessary to register for state and federal taxes. Different business structures are taxed differently (for instance, some LLCs can be taxed as S corporations), so it's wise to consult with an expert. 

"Do your homework and get advice since it's important to structure your business in a way that works for you.

4. Make a website

Building a website is a no brainer for anyone working in PR, since it's necessary to have an online presence that will help create a tangible connection between your brand identity and prospective clients. And it's likely you'll need to engage a website designer for this, unless you're experienced in this field, since you want the first 'touch point' with a client to appear as professional as possible.  

Tip: If you register a me domain, you're more likely to end up with a catchy and memorable website name that will help you to stand out from the competition.  

"...since you want the first 'touch point' with a client to appear as professional as possible." 

5. Obtain permits and insurance

Check out what you need by way of permits/licences/insurance, particularly if clients are likely to attend your place of work. Don't risk getting caught out and being hit with various fines (or worse) that might seriously damage your business and reputation. Play it safe and do your homework as it will depend on which state or territory you're working in. 

"Play it safe and do your homework as it will depend on which state or territory you're working in." 

6. Invest in several tools

Many people manage to keep their businesses afloat without any helpful tools. For instance, you can get away with doing invoices by using Excel spreadsheets to track hours and create invoice templates in Word. But why would you? It's a lot smarter to invest in a specialised bookkeeping tool that will automate your invoices and accept online payments.

And while you're at it, check out the multitude of online tools that can help beyond your bookkeeping and accounting needs. For instance, there are helpful tools for managing your projects, storing your files, creating graphics, blogging, allowing easy video conferencing, running a fast website, social media management... even PR and project management. Subscribe to whatever services you need to help automate as much of your long to-do list as possible.  

"Subscribe to whatever services you need to help automate as much of your long to-do list as possible." 

7. Hire help

When starting your own business, you need to pick a path: will you be focused on growing your business OR on doing the work as a professional communicator? If you choose the first path, expect to spend a lot of time doing non-billable/administrative stuff like handling HR issues, bookkeeping and negotiating office lease terms.

Instead, if you want to push forward and satisfy your clients, it's far better to choose a path that draws more on (your obvious) strength in the field of communications and allow the experts to deal with the non-com stuff. In fact, why not hire help to deal with *all the stuff* you don't like to do so you can focus on what’s important for your growth and satisfaction. Not only that, when hiring recruits to join your PR team, look for people who are creative, successful in problem-solving and able to negotiate with clients. 

"...why not hire help to deal with *all the stuff* you don't like to do so you can focus on what’s important for your growth and satisfaction." 

Of course, don’t expect to have an easy time in the first year of your business. The PR industry can be cut-throat, but if you deliver what you promise, you’ll stay afloat in the hard times and continue on a strong path of development.   


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