In the field of PR, one thing that is often not considered by recent graduates is the ‘solo track.’ This career path allows for many great benefits, but also a few downfalls.
Cheri Brennan, a solo PR specialist in the Seattle area, cites “a desire to be independent and the realization you don’t have to part of an organization to do good work and have great clients,”(Freeman, 1999) as her reasoning behind leaving a firm. A lot of likeminded people choose to take this route, citing the unique independence the job offers. This ability to essentially ‘be your own boss’ in a sense, seems to be the biggest draw for the independent PR worker. Another benefit of working on your own is the ability to pick and choose clients. More often than not, solo PR representatives are hired quickly by smaller companies who need help cleaning up a mess, or handling a crisis. Since the solo PR worker makes their own way, they can objectively look at the potential client objectively, and decide whether or not the workload will be worth the money, something the higher-ups in firms may fail to recognize.
However, it is not recommended to go solo without any help whatsoever. Business connections are obviously important in the PR field, so most workers go solo after a few years in a firm. Mary McLoughlan, a PR worker in Grand Rapids, MI claims that the reason why she was able to find success after going independent was due to her ability to “make a lot of connections in five years and because I did agency work during that time, I also had a group of clients who knew me and considered my work-valuable,” (Dewey, 2013)
I personally have worked with a company before that utilized a solo PR practitioner. Granted, the observations I will offer about her do not speak about the solo-PR field as a whole, but more of this one individual. With that being said, I feel that it would not be uncommon for these issues to arise due to the nature of the work. An issue I had with our solo practitioner is that she was very hard to get to contact her. She was very busy, and represented a lot of other small, local businesses in the area as well. When we needed consultation in the field of PR, there wasn’t another worker or consultant we could speak to because there is no other practitioner in ‘solo’ PR. I can reasonably infer that this would be an issue for others who work with solo PR practitioners. Because they do not have the advantage to divvy up work between multiple parties, this puts solo PR workers at a bit of a disadvantage.
After doing additional research and considering observations made in prior work experience, I feel that solo PR is not the way I would choose to go. The route I would be most inclined to take is working at a firm, and then maybe if I feel confident enough, starting my own. However, I don’t think I would enjoy working solo. I feel that idea sharing is an invaluable tool in the PR field, and neglecting it will only stifle potential.
Freeman, P. (1999, November 05). Solo pr practitioners enjoy flexibility, autonomy. Puget Sound Business Journal, p. 27.
Dewey, C. (2013, April 15). Inside track: Mary McLaughlin; flying solo was right decision for McLaughlin’s PR firm. Grand Rapids Business Journal, p. 8.