Why consultancy might be perfect for you

Working for yourself and being your own boss can be extremely empowering and fulfilling.  However, for some, it can be the total opposite – a completely daunting experience.

Not everyone wants to be a boss or run their own company and that is perfectly fine. The thought of having to manage people, be responsible for a company, operations, service delivery, human resources, finances etc. is no easy task and not for the faint-hearted.

On the flip side, working in a 9-5 (more like 9-6 these days) can also be a living night day-mare for many, it can be rigid, time-consuming and if you’re not happy doing it, a disappointing and miserable day-to-day encounter.

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Middle-ground

That’s why, consulting, in my opinion, offers the perfect middle ground.  You are essentially working for yourself and registered as self-employed. You can choose to set up as a sole trader or a Limited Company you’ll still have the responsibility of managing some business tasks but on a much smaller scale. You can always elect to outsource business processes such as accounting and hire a virtual assistant.

Working as a consultant in the field you specialise in, means you can choose when and where you work. You can opt to work independently, in collaboration with others or decide to scale up and delegate to your own team of consultants. The decision is entirely up to you. It really comes down to how much responsibility you want to take on.

You can read the res of my article published via Precious online magazine.

 

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Is all publicity good publicity?

I’ve had this conversation on many occasions, is all publicity good publicity? I watched a show recently and a group of women were talking about the fact that one of them had been in the media and she wasn’t concerned about the fact that the publicity wasn’t favourable or positive it was entirely negative but to her all that mattered was that her name is out there.  That is something I hear often, people think as long as they’re being spoken about is all that matters.

Well as a professional in the business that has had to manage crisis communications on behalf of clients I don’t agree with this statement at all. Think about it, I’ve said it before if you’re a restaurant owner and you get a huge amount of negative media attention for food poisoning and rodent infestation how do you think that would impact your sales? I think it’s fair to say that your restaurant might look like a ghost town depending on the severity of the coverage.

That’s a hypothetical example so let us take a brief look at some real crisis that has taken place. Look at the BP Oil spill in the Gulf in 2010. BP understandably received a significant amount of negative press with images of the oil gushing out, animals covered in oil and news that 11 workers died in the explosion. I’m pretty certain that bosses at BP didn’t think oh well all publicity is good when they had people boycotting their fuel stations and a media frenzy covering the incident.

Or we could look at the UK supermarket horsemeat scandal in 2013 which resulted in a whole host of jokes, info-graphics and memes be circulated across the internet. Showing just how influential social media channels can be when it comes to the public’s perception. The scandal affected bottom line sales as well as loosing trust from consumers.

Another example is the video featuring two Dominos employees doing disgusting things to pizzas that amassed almost one million hits on YouTube! As you would expect it was extremely damaging for the brand.

These are loads of examples to illustrate how bad publicity has hurt brands. I believe there is such a thing as bad publicity and while most do recover from the crisis if handled openly and transparently the bad publicity they’ve received has done some serious reputational damage for at least the short term….. and maybe longer.

Now you’ve heard from me, but what do you think? Do you believe that all publicity is good publicity?  Feel free to leave a comment!

Five must have FREE PR tools for entrepreneurs

I am a big fan of using tools in business to improve organisation and efficiency and there are plenty out here claiming to do it all. As a PR professional I am always on the lookout for the latest technology that can add business value and ultimately enhance and make working life easier.

However a lot of these helpful tools do come at a large price for example tools like newswire services, media contacts and monitoring services like Precise, Gorkana and Cision can be very costly. They are useful tools but for this blog I have put on my frugal hat to highlight some free must have tools for PR… in no particular order.

Hootsuite or Tweetdeck  – great for managing social media allowing you to sync up your facebook and twitter accounts and schedule posts etc.

Google – this one goes without saying people Google everything these days and it comes in handy for PR research and much more.

Flipboard – keeping abreast of emerging news is very important and I really like this ‘Flipboard app’. The magazine style layout allows you to select topics of interest. If you’re not keen on the layout there are other options like Feedly.

Google alerts – I’ve always used this service and set up specific alerts for each client project to stay on top of client news. Google alerts  is a free service and is easy to use, it allows you to determine whether you want updates as and when they come or all complied into one email alert at the end of the day to avoid your inbox overloading.

Google docs  – is good web-based collaborative office software that is easy to use for your daily tasks and can save shelling out on a Microsoft office suite. Google allows for easy sharing of documents. Dropbox is also great for sharing documents and data with clients/colleagues.

Now reviewing this list you would think that I’m sponsored by Google, but I’m not, it just so happens that they have great tools that are free to use.

Feel free to comment on any free tools that you find useful.

Five ridiculous myths about PR

So I was having a chat recently with some friends about working in PR and it was interesting to hear what they thought PR was. What was funny was how many myths associated with the profession popped up during the convo, and I had fun trying to dispel them.  Here are my top five ridiculous myths about PR.

 

  1. PR is all about the Ab fab lifestyle – yep that old chestnut, the BBC comedy ‘Absolutely fabulous’ showed Jennifer Saunders working in the world of fashion PR. While it was hilarious to watch it is far from the truth. In reality we don’t all spend our time drinking, getting high and buttering up journalists. I recall my early days working in fashion and beauty PR to be, long hours and lots of hard work liaising with clients, pitching to journalists, distributing samples etc.

 

  1. All publicity is good publicity – I have heard this so many times and each time I have heard this and I wanted to shout erm NO! All media coverage is not good coverage, having worked on crisis situations in the past I know this to be entirely false. Think about it, if you’re a restaurant owner and you received negative media coverage about rodent infestation or if you’re CEO of an airline and you receive negative coverage about your planes being faulty and not up to scratch, do you think that would be good for business? Nope not at all.

 

  1. PR means press releases – People often get confused about what PR practitioners do, and think it’s just about churning out press releases for every and anything. PR is not just about pushing out press releases and media relations although it is an important element PR. PR is vital for informing, engaging and building relationships with your target audience, be it customers, suppliers, other businesses with an interest in yours. PR is also very important to your brand messaging which you want to be positive, and is the service you would turn to for help with a media crisis or negative media mentions.

 

  1. Anyone can do it – this is unfortunately a common misconception. Business owners often think that they can manage PR themselves to save money as all it takes is a press release and then the media gates flood open right?… Sorry to burst your bubble but it’s not that simple. PR is about reputation management, it is about communicating, clearly, concisely, effectively and strategising to build relationships with key stakeholders including the media.

 

  1. PR will make me or my company famous by tomorrow

To build brand awareness takes time, as consumers we don’t walk into a store or read an article and jump on the bandwagon immediately.  PR is an effective strategy to use for your business but you must remember that it can take time. PR is not based on luck it’s based on good PR planning. So remember when you start your PR campaign you may not necessarily see media coverage anywhere from a few weeks to three months into the campaign due to lead times for publications etc. But as long as the campaign continues you will see PR increase significantly over time.

Feel free to leave a comment and add any ridic myths that you know of!