If you are someone who is good at convincing people and blessed with the gift of gab, then perhaps public relations is your true calling. PR is essentially the business of persuasion, and for one to start this business on their own, requires a lot more than just communication skills. Moreover, if you are already working in a PR firm and are considering going solo, then read on.

Having your own public relations agency where you can do what you are most passionate about, represent clients that you believe in, and basically do things your way, can be an exciting and rewarding experience, yet one that can be overwhelming as well.

With the growth of digital technologies and a more than ever competitive communications industry, ensuring you stand out from the rest is not only important, but critical when starting a PR firm. In this post, we look at some of the things that you need to consider before starting a PR agency, so you are not unprepared for the many challenges that come with a startup and end up losing your time, energy and money.

1- Planning – The first step includes setting out a clear, detailed plan listing all the specifics related to the agency. This would mean defining the goal, target market, identifying a niche and the USP, costs involved, scale of operations, and others. Initial expenditures could include: Internet; computer(s); graphic design services for logo and website – basically to build the look of your brand; printing business cards and other marketing materials; copywriting for marketing, sales and social media content; ads in industrial publications; employee(s); and other typical office expenses such as rents, electricity and so on. One should keep in mind that it may be a while – even as long as six months – until you win your first client and start generating income, so plan according to your available financial reserves.

Another aspect of planning is deciding what you should charge your clients. This depends on your qualification and experience, which country you are based in, and what your competition is charging for similar services. PR firms can have various ways of charging clients – it could be an hourly rate, on a project basis, or a monthly retainer account. Choose whatever meets the needs of both the agency and the client in the best possible manner.

2- Legalities – You will need to establish a legal business entity, obtain the necessary permits and governmental licenses, register for taxes, and open a business bank account before starting the agency. This is also where you would need to consider hiring a lawyer, an accountant, a copywriter, technical support, and other experts depending on how many of these tasks you can manage on your own.

3- Promotion – Startups are not expected or recommended to heavily invest in marketing or promotion. However, there are ways in which you can get the most return on investment, such as social media posts, word of mouth publicity, free distribution of pamphlets and brochures at industry events, and so on. The idea is basically to get the word out there about the new kid on the PR block by projecting your brand’s visibility in places that matter i.e. places where you are more likely to find your prospective clients. To dothis, it is essential that you first define your brand, its mission and vision and how you plan to achieve it. If you have a bigger budget for marketing, consider advertisements in newspapers, trade publications and/or social media. You can also start a blog or an e-newsletter to keep potential customers in the loop.

4- Networking – If you have previously worked in a PR agency, then you probably already have all the right contacts in the right places. Talk to as many people in the industry, business owners, media specialists and journalists as you can to enlist their support as you are starting out. Attend networking events such as exhibitions, conferences, and forums to get to know more people and for people to get to know your new brand and agency.