The PR industry is one of the best professions to be in right now, simply because every organization deals with some form of PR each and every day. In fact, the average business spends $5,000 to $10,000 a month on PR efforts. This includes the people they train, the materials used for the campaigns and other resources.
By Jessica Hann
A note before we start: While forming a PR business sounds easy and lucrative on paper, it’s important to note that not everybody is qualified to start one. Clients expect a certain level of experience before they can even consider hiring you, so this is not a venture for students, fresh graduates, or those with only a couple of years of experience in the field. Work for a PR agency or a company’s PR team for an extended period to build your qualifications. If you have difficulty getting into those, volunteer work is also a great place to start. Help with non-profit organization PR campaigns, volunteer to run a small business’ social media account, or intern for your local government’s content team. Every bit of credential counts.
Of course, if you think you already have enough experience to offer, here are some business ideas to consider:
1. Crisis response
Every company stumbles into a PR crisis at some point, whether it’s because of organization misdeeds, workplace violence, rumors, and other things that can ruin a company’s image. If things get too out of hand, they might outsource for help. A crisis management firm can help draft the company’s crisis management plans, talk to stakeholders, train representatives, and publish material that can get them out of a crisis. Even if there’s no crisis, the firm may still be asked to assess current risks and outline probable business responses in the future. It needs a multi-talented team who’s prepared to develop solutions for every circumstance.
2. Social media management
A lot of consumers discover and interact with brands online. For example, Business.com’s list of relevant social media statistics informs that 90% of Instagram users follow a business account. The same post tells that a consumer who has a “good experience” with a brand on social media will likely tell others about it, earning the company a positive reputation. While companies have their on-site PR teams handle this, those without the manpower to cover it may hire a social media manager. If you have a background in graphic design, then all the better. After all, you might be tasked to create graphics to accompany your posts as well.
From press releases and blog posts to fact sheets and company brochures, there’s a lot of writing that needs to be done in PR. If this is something you want to specialize in, then you can open a writing business.
A PR writing business can count as a “consulting” business, if you’re offering a specialized writing service to your clients. However, starting a consulting business means that most of your work will come from referrals, so it’s important to establish your presence in the field before you take on any jobs. You can join an association, for example, like the American Society of Professional Copywriters. You can also get your first clients by connecting with people on LinkedIn and offering your services there.
CSR (corporate social responsibility) is the company’s ethical obligations to their employees, environment, economy, and other areas. Babson College’s review of CSR programs found that it has a “strong positive impact on market value and overall brand reputation.” While many of these efforts can be conceptualized and executed by an on-site PR team like social media management, a business might consider outsourcing their ideas as well. A consulting business that offers this type of service is also a viable business idea.
5. Media training
We briefly mentioned training spokespersons under crisis management, but did you know that this too, can be a viable job in PR? If you have the charisma and credentials for it, you can train people—such as executives and directors—to professionally represent their company in front of the press. To effectively media train your clients, you need to know how to craft a clear and effective message as well as the proper way to deliver it. If you need to add some experience to your CV, then take a couple of certification programs like Degreed’s course for Media Training and Pluralsight’s class on Being a Better Communicator.
You can create a consulting business if it’s just your services that you’re offering. But if you have plans to hire people that can offer more specialized training, then you’re looking at a full-fledged Inc. or LLC.
6. PR agency
The role of PR agencies is to convince the business’ market that their brand is trustworthy and relevant. To achieve this goal, there are a lot of services that you can offer. For example, when a new product is launched, an agency can be called to organize the event and invite the media. They can also be responsible for the type of content a business posts on their blog. Most of the above business ideas can also be covered by a PR agency to a less specialized extent. Therefore, the one building an agency needs extensive knowledge in every PR field—from crisis management to copywriting.
PR is a broad field, so you can either form a business specializing in one area or create an agency that can handle it all. No matter what option you pick, the important part is that you’re well versed in the field enough to be able to provide your expertise on it.
Jessica Hann is a freelance business writer. By providing business advice and tips, she hopes her articles help people advance in their chosen field. In her free time she loves to hike.
Photo by Brooke Lark