Business owners looking for public relations support and counsel often discover an independent PR agency is better suited to fit their needs. What exactly is the difference between a firm and an independent? If you’re shopping for a partnership, here are a few things to keep in mind.
The PR Firm: Easy answer, a firm is a traditional business with owners, management and teams of people who do the work. If a new client signs on for ongoing work or a project, a team is assigned to strategically oversee and do the implementation. And yes, that costs money. Many Indianapolis PR agencies have qualifications for new clients that can bust a business owner’s budget quickly. These PR firms specialize in working with large corporate customers and segments of government.
The sole practitioner: That’s where the advent of the independent PR agency comes into play. We’re also called sole practitioners. While we operate individually, many of us partner on larger projects to build capacity. We have go-to partners for website programming, creative services, public relations tactics, strategic research and more. For mid-sized business owners and non-profit organizations with a focus on budget, partnering with an independent is budget friendly and partnership driven.
Evolution of the independent PR agency: Two decades ago when I started working as an independent, my business was called freelancing. We didn’t talk about home offices, and we used answering services to ensure business owners knew we were legit. Today independent PR agency professionals are considered part of the gig economy. We take work seriously, yet appreciate the flexibility so many have discovered over the past pandemic year. Many of us maintain home offices and use coworking space to supplement for meetings and collaboration.
What to ask an independent: If you’re ready to consider partnering with an independent PR agency, here are a few questions to ask a professional to get a sense about their work and style:
- How long have you been in business?
- What’s your specialty?
- Can you share recent PR work successes?
- Who are your partners that support client work?
- What’s your typical week in the office?
- What’s your rate? How do you invoice for work?
What to keep in mind: Often prospects have a point of view that since someone works as an independent the price will get better. While independent PR pros might be more in your target budget, these professionals still have bills to pay and a family to feed. Be respectful when it comes to the budget conversation. Yet expect the work to be streamlined, and when the right PR pro is your partner, expect a high-level of customer service.
And remember… my team and I are always looking for new client work. We’re happy to answer the questions outlined above in a conversation with you.