How to Start a Career in Freelance Public Relations

It does not matter if you work inhouse for a public relations company or as a freelancer, either way pitch letters and queries, press releases, press kits, and networking are all part of the public relations field. Even though television and movies make the field of PR appear glamorous, it really is not. In the beginning, you must work long hours for small pay, and claw your way up to the top. Throughout your career as an agency publicist, your income will be predicated on your people, organizational and creative skills.

However, working in the field as a freelancer is different from working in house for an agency or a large company because the lifestyle of a freelancing professional provides scheduling flexibility, while enabling you to create your own rates, even though it may take a little longer to get started. Here is how to get started on becoming a freelance PR guru.

Legal Entity

To get started in any business whether it is fulltime or freelance, you will need to organize a business plan and create a legal business entity - sole proprietorship, LLC, S-Corp or C Corp. 

Tools to get Started

You will need minimal capital for business essentials – business cards, a website, and web hosting. 

The Portfolio

In the beginning, you may have to complete one or two assignments pro bono (free) to create a portfolio since it is the single most important element to getting clients. Find family members and friends who own businesses that need PR assistance. Offer to write pitch letters, press releases, and plan corporate events or product launch parties. Ask family members and friends to refer you business as well. 

Networking

Attend local Chamber of Commerce and charity events to meet potential clients. Networking with local media personalities to build relationships is the best way to start building a solid media database. A list of successful press contacts can make or break your business. Clients often hire publicists based on how large their rolodexes are.

Essential Skills

Learn PR basics. Writing and researching skills are necessary for success. Drafting press releases and pitch letters will enable you to build up solid writing skills. It will also teach you how to write newsworthy stories and find interesting angles. 

Marketing Your Business

Accept unpaid writing and speaking opportunities to get the word out there. Write pitch letters to relevant blogs and online magazines.  Write and distribute press releases through www.pr.com.   

Services

Determine what services you are going to offer. Will you only write press releases, articles and pitch letters? Are you interested in creating press kits and monitoring online and offline PR? Do you want to coordinate large corporate events and parties?

Rates, Wages and Income

Determine how you are going to structure your pricing. If you want to make $100,000 per year, while working 40 hours per week, then you need to charge a minimum of $50.00 per hour. Will you bill on a retainer, per project or per hour?