As an independent public relations contractor, your clients are the lifeblood of your business. When you’re starting out, the biggest challenge can be getting clients to trust you enough to pay you for PR work. These clients are often being solicited by big agencies with lengthy track records and robust portfolios. Going with a smaller firm or an independent contractor like yourself offers clients plenty of advantages over the big boys, but it’s up to you to reach out to them and show them why you’re the best choice. Consider utilizing unique tactics to land your first public relations clients.
Work for Free
No, you aren’t a charity or volunteer organization, and yes, you need paying clients for your business to survive. You can’t perform an endless amount of pro bono work and still meet your overhead and grow your business. Still, when done correctly, providing free services can give you a foot in the door with clients who might be hesitant to hire you for lack of name recognition. Put yourself in their shoes. A professional wants you to pay for services, but you’ve never heard of him or her, and there are competitors in town with established track records offering the same thing. Now imagine the professional offers the first five hours of work for free. At that point, what do you have to lose by giving him or her a try?
Networking offers one of the fastest and easiest ways to land clients. Most cities and towns have business networking clubs. In these groups, entrepreneurs and small business owners in various industries meet periodically to share ideas and pass leads back and forth. Consider seeking out a group in your area that doesn’t have an active member involved in public relations. As you meet people in the group, you’ll discover that some of them have customers you can help. Down the road, you can return the favor by referring your clients to colleagues in the group for other services.
Develop Your Website and Social Media Presence
The purpose of a public relations professional is to help businesses put their best foot forward. It’s hard to find businesses to trust you to do that if your own best foot isn’t being put forward. Take inventory of your website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. Is your website up-to-date with a modern style and format, or does it look like a relic from the mid-2000s? How about your social media pages? You should be updating them regularly, and the content should reflect the best aspects of your business. Social media is the place to showcase the great work you’ve done for clients. If you don’t yet have clients, you can demonstrate value by offering PR tips or sharing relevant industry news. Public relations is a fantastic business, and you can succeed as an independent contractor if you put in the work. By utilizing creative tactics, you can compete with the bigger players in the industry and land your first clients.