In 2012, recent college graduates were faced with the daunting task of not only finding a job, a rarity at the time, but competing with their peers for them as well. Having just received my Bachelor’s at the University of New Hampshire, I was one of those graduates. After a few internships, I landed my first communications job in the real estate development industry. I had often imagined my life after college would include working at a PR firm, but those opportunities were few and far between. Then, in 2013, I embarked on the non-traditional career path of working for myself. Working for yourself isn’t necessarily uncommon, but it is, in general, not the norm at the beginning of one’s career. After two and a half years pounding the pavement, the opportunity arose to join Hollywood Public Relations, and I happily embraced the challenge.
You see, there is another side to the PR world other than working at an agency – working for yourself. After a few years working independently and now, at an agency, I have a few takeaways from both sides of the industry.
Working for yourself comes with its own set of challenges, as well as opportunities to push yourself. It’s up to you to organize the right team, identify clients you can best serve and motivate yourself day in and day out. Bumps in the road are plentiful on your own. Trusting your instincts is the name of the game, and becoming comfortable selling yourself can be a challenge without the support of a team. In an agency, backed by a team with a diverse set of skills – some of which you may not possess yourself – you will find strength in numbers and learn and grow immensely as a person. While it’s possible you could be an expert in one or more audience categories your client is looking to reach, it’s unlikely you can cover all the bases like an agency can.
Finding the necessary capital to fund PR programs is the one of the greatest challenges solo workers face, and often-times you may find yourself resorting to grassroots efforts and extreme networking, or even pouring your own hard-earned savings into the business. But as they say: no risk, no reward. In an agency atmosphere, you will find the support network you need not only with your team, but with programs as well. With this limited barrier to entry, you’ll find this gives you the time to really focus on serving your clients’ best interests. And, you’ll have the opportunity to really educate yourself on the ins and outs of these programs.
When you’re on your own, the commute is quick – typically a thirty-second walk downstairs to your “office”. However, it’s up to you to develop a network and to create face time with potential clients or consultants. This could mean anything from attending networking events to joining a club or even filling a board seat.
If you’re considering joining an agency, finding the right fit is crucial and teamwork is essential for creating success. Agency culture provides the team, the resources and, of course, the social aspect. At the end of the day, you’re there to work but it’s good to maintain a work-hard-play-hard attitude, like we do here at HPR.
Whether you’re considering embarking on a solo venture or joining an agency, both require self motivation, confidence and a determination to create opportunity when it may not exist. Whichever path you end up choosing, the PR world is an exciting and fulfilling one.
- Taylor Howell
A behind-the-scenes look at life in PR from the team at Hollywood
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