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How to Build a Successful PR Practice

Ever consider starting your own practice? Two experts shared business and legal tips on building a successful PR practice at a recent Independent Public Relations Alliance (IPRA) luncheon, a section of PRSA-NCC. Heathere Evans Keenan, owner of the successful virtual firm Keenan PR and founder of IPRA, shared some of her learnings from years of running her own business. Walter Diercks, a DC-based corporate attorney specializing in communications, provided a number of legal considerations when starting a business and dealing with clients. Below are five of those tips.

Put in the time: Put your time to good use by getting involved in professional organizations such as PRSA or IPRA.Heathere recommends going a step further and chair a group or committee. By showing up and putting in the time you not only expand your network, but you are also able to showcase your skills.

Do your own PR: You may be one of the best PR pros in the business, but without marketing yourself, you may miss out on valuable opportunities. Heathere stressed the importance of being your own client first. Showcasing your skills by doing your own PR shows potential clients what you can do for them.

Work with people you like: Heathere recommends defining your ideal client and then going after them. Find clients that have a similar vision as you. Be selective and put in the time to seek out the best match for you and your team. Doing otherwise wastes time that you could put into more worthwhile projects.

Protect yourself: Walter Dierks reminded everyone about the importance of contracts. He advised PR practitioners to always secure a contractual agreement with clients in order to protect yourself and your company. Also, have contracts with sub-contractors. He cautions that in some cases, PR practitioners can be held legally responsible for posts on a client’s behalf. In these cases it is when the PR practitioner is the source of false material and then publishes it. Walter strongly recommends getting liability insurance to cover these situations.

Be smart about social media: Walt used the cautionary tale of Gene Morphis, former CFO of Francesca’s Holdings Crop, whose negative tweet about his employer cost him his job. It is important to remember the basic do’s and don’ts of social media and to advise clients on the right and wrong ways to use it.