Kellye Crane is the founder of Solo PR Pro, which provides the tools, education, advocacy and community resources needed for communications consultants to succeed and grow.
Oh shoot - I forgot to mention one more tip in my comment: the importance of finding a collaborator who is nicer than you are. I'm not kidding! Aside from the obvious benefits of being pleasant to work with, a super-kind and tactful sidekick can help squash squabbles and be the good cop on those rare occasions when you may have to play enforcer. Karen Swim was already a much-loved community member, so adding her to the team was an easy decision for me!
5 days, 10 hours ago on How to build and grow a private Facebook group
Wow, Arik - this post was quite the surprise! Thank you for all the kind words, and for sharing why we think the private Facebook group is one of the biggest benefits of Solo PR PRO Premium membership.
I'd like to share a couple points that may be of interest to readers looking to start their own communities:
-We initially tried offering a traditional forum experience to our members, using the vbulletin software familiar to most. One of the advantages of that platform is it's "owned" and the discussions are automatically archived and searchable. It's great... when people actually use it! Despite months of doing our best to drive folks to that vehicle, our members just didn't take to it (it required users to think "let me go checkout the Forums," as opposed to the Facebook group, which is there waiting for you every time you sign in to FB). There are a couple lessons learned here: 1) it's not always easy to predict what your community will embrace; and 2) letting go of your ideas (and sometimes investments) to try new things (we viewed the FB group as just an experiment, at first) is key to helping your community grow.
-Getting the group going at first can be labor intensive. When we first started, I made a concerted effort to make sure everyone's questions were being answered (often by me). This is important, since people won't come back if they feel ignored or don't see the value. But as the group took off and activity increased, I found that advice from me on a topic would sometimes end the discussion. So, it's a delicate balance, but if you're in tune with your group it quickly becomes second nature when to weigh in or abstain. I find it interesting this is one of the things you've noticed!
If anyone has any questions, I'm happy to answer them here in the comments - and thanks again, Arik, for showcasing Solo PR Pro. As you know, I'm very passionate about the community and helping others succeed on the indie career path!
5 days, 11 hours ago on How to build and grow a private Facebook group
Wow, Arik- thank you so much for all the kind words, and I couldn't
have described the Solo PR Pro community better myself! We are a group that values the opportunity to learn from each other, and everyone is the better for it.
As a conference organizer, let me say that a huge part of the spirit of an event comes from the speakers. Selecting speakers who are not only wise and interesting, but also enjoy making new connections -- regardless of how well-known that new connection may be -- makes everyone attending feel comfortable and valued. I encourage anyone planning an event to invite speakers like Arik (there's a reason I made him present twice J) -- these quality people add value throughout your conference, not just while they're on stage.
Thanks again, Arik, for being part of it!
2 weeks, 4 days ago on The 7 commandments of the Solo PR Summit
My brain hurts. I still haven't figured out how the long-form results actually work, and now they've got us thinking in Q&As. But at least I understand it better than I did before I read this post. :-)
5 months, 1 week ago on Hummingbird Update: What it Means for PR Pros
@arikhanson Couldn't hit "like" on a comment that says the wife and kids will take a hit! But, I'm humbled that the Solo PR Summit is the one event you feel is worth it.
I think @CatParker 's comment about being a gypsy is a good one -- some people love the thrill of being somewhere new, while others prefer the comforts of home. Knowing which type you are can help you plan -- whether you want to embrace or avoid business travel.
5 months, 2 weeks ago on The downsides of PR travel no one wants to talk about
@Danny Brown I think those of us who continue to blog regularly believe there is still power in the fragmented discussion, but it's harder to track and participate in (and, as @davefleet indicates, it
tends to be less in-depth than the blog comments of old). So I definitely understand why many find blogging less appealing than in the past.
5 months, 3 weeks ago on Where did all the good (individual) PR blogs go?
Great points, Arik. There's an important aspect you didn't mention: most measures today (like the Inkybee list) reward frequency and volume. An individual blog by a mere mortal can't churn out enough content to make the top of a list like this (the agency behind Spin Sucks posts great content twice a day!), so there's pressure on individuals to add more guest bloggers, which can dilute the voice, as you say.
Not only does this emphasis on volume mean more formerly individual blogs have multiple authors now, but it also makes it harder for the public to unearth the new or unique voices of smaller blogs. So readership goes down, the author finds it less compelling to write as a result, and there's a chicken-and-egg effect.
The good news is, there's always room for fresh perspectives, and PR pros are a determined bunch! Lesser known bloggers are out there contributing to the conversation, and we can all help by making a concerted effort to shine a light on them.
@davefleet The comment issue is a big one -- as the conversation has fragmented, it becomes more difficult to foster a dialogue around a particular topic of interest and feel like you're actually making an impact. Very few PR blogs have comment sections with any meaningful dialogue anymore.
This is a great post! I missed it earlier because I was out sick.. because I worked too hard, didn't sleep enough and a germ took me down. While I was offline, in between nose blowings, I was stunned to realize the world didn't come crashing down because I was out!
Shonali, we - and everyone commenting on and mentioned in this post - have been around long enough to see many social media high fliers come and go. Often, I can remember wishing those people hadn't burned themselves out...that I would prefer infrequent posts from them than none at all. Now I realize, this is us. :-)
Not only do we want things perfect, as you and Gini note, but many of us put so much pressure on ourselves around *volume.* Yes, maybe we'll get more eyeballs the more we do, but that's quite the hamster wheel -- whether you have a team behind you or not. Since there's no limit to how much we can do on social media, we just have to set realistic boundaries for our sanity.
6 months, 2 weeks ago on Dear Business: Get Over the Social Media Hump
I made a similar point about sister agencies on Solo PR Pro today. If prospective clients buy into the bigger is better philosophy being sold as part of this merger, many will be sorely disappointed. Independent solo and boutique firms (cough, Arment Dietrich, cough) are often light years ahead of the big guys in terms of creativity and innovation. Hear us now, believe us later!
7 months, 2 weeks ago on Seven Reasons the Publicis Omnicom Merger is a Big Deal
This sounds like a racket! Why not let everyone and their brother speak, if you're going to get revenue from each of them?
Some small events can't afford to pay speakers a fee, and they should graciously understand if a desired speaker is too busy with paying gigs to accommodate them. But I have never heard of an event asking the speaker to pay to attend -- their unprofessional response is another example of the event's weirdness. Run awaaaay!
7 months, 2 weeks ago on Perspective: Public Speaking and Time as a Gift
"Tracking time – every minute of it that is spent – allows you to be
strategic and smart about the budgets you’re creating" - preach it, my
friend! For solo PR pros, I recommend using 1,000 billable hours as the baseline when considering hourly rates, since we wear a lot of hats (ahem, @3HatsComm) and this typically translates into unbillable time. Keeping close tabs on time, even when billing on retainer, is the key to profitability.
8 months, 3 weeks ago on The Importance of Tracking Time and Other PR Firm Essentials
@Marc_Meyer1 Hey friend, since your comment appears at the top as the most recent, I wanted to record what we discussed via Twitter: you absolutely can take a vacation! I unplug completely for a minimum of one week every year (and have for my 18 years as an indie), usually 2-3 weeks a year, all while working with Fortune 500 clients. You just need to build a network of supportive colleagues, which fortunately isn't difficult to do.
11 months, 1 week ago on 5 reasons why the solo consultant lifestyle isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
@arikhanson It's funny, when I worked in a traditional office, I was always trying to power through my work so I could get home. I'm a very social person, but I typically skipped water cooler chit chat and group lunches. For those reading this post, if this is you... you'd make a great indie! :-)
I'm not sure who made people think being an independent consultant is easy and glamorous -- maybe the same people who think PR is, too? J There's no such thing as a free lunch, and being an indie consultant is no exception. As the Solo PR blog/community founder, I'm admittedly a little more bullish on being indie than some, but there are some antidotes to a few of the downsides you describe...
For credibility (or cache, as Shonali notes), dropping the names of your clients goes a long way to help with that, but you're right that certain people will judge (says more about them than us, IMO). Vacations can be arranged if you have a trusted fellow indie to back you up (I usually unplug completely for at least one week each year), and it's possible to arrange your commitments so you can take that two week trip to Hawaii -- just not very often. And I personally love being a slob. J
I founded Solo PR specifically to help with the teamwork aspect, and many who aren't solo don't realize just how supportive we are of each other. However, there are some people who truly need lots of human contact and miss it greatly when it's not there. Those people are typically not cut out for this career path.
Overall, no disagreement -- you've nailed the primary pitfalls. But those of us who've been at it a long time (18 years for me!) have found ways to work around them, and the joys of working for clients you love on your own terms -- and usually for much more money than you'd make at a traditional job -- more than outweigh any downsides.
You had me until the end when you said "takes a shower." :-) Fun post!
1 year, 1 month ago on So, God made a PR pro
A lot of folks have always known PR is about more than media relations but, as you note in the comments below, a lot of folks does not equal everyone (and everyone in PR needs to get on board toute suite!). I don't think change is just scary- it also can be hard. Continually evolving and learning takes an investment of time, which some people don't want to give. Good for you for giving this well-worded prodding!
1 year, 1 month ago on The Future of PR: Beyond Media Relations
Thanks for sharing, Gini! One thing I find interesting is that you closed most of the business when you had a chance to slow down and focus on that aspect of the biz dev. It shows how both networking hustle and focused follow-up are both necessary (the latter is too easy to put off for many folks). The fullest pipeline in the world does nothing unless you can ink the deal - congrats to you for capitalizing on all your hard work!
1 year, 3 months ago on How to Get Big Things Done
Hi Arik- you know what? Over the past 24 hours, I'm on my way to changing my position on this issue. Yesterday, I felt that as long as people were expressing their opinions respectfully and with reasoned arguments, it's not a bad thing (and perhaps even a healthy part of democracy).
But today, not only am I shocked by some of the discourse on Facebook in particular, but I have a very personal example of how our political comments can be offensive in ways we don't intend. Allow me to share:
In response to my FB post this morning about the vitriol, a former work colleague messaged to tell me that I've offended her in the past (so she felt I was being hypocritical). This is because after North Carolina voted in favor of the anti-gay marriage amendment earlier this year, my FB stream was full of people expressing "everyone in NC is an idiot"- type sentiment, so I posted something in support of the "good people" of NC who voted against it.
It was more political than I usually am, and in my mind I was expressing a more moderate view (to not paint everyone in the state with the same broad brush). However, my friend read this to mean that those who voted for it were "bad people" (and in her memory, that's what I said: "you proclaimed that those of us who prevailed were the bad people of NC"). I understand that what I said was snarky, and now I can see how this was the implication.
So, here I've shared in a more public way a bit about my politics, but I think it's a good example of what you're talking about. What I've decided is this: social media makes it necessary to boil the complexities of our positions down to a sentence or two, which makes things more divisive than they need to be.
1 year, 4 months ago on Should PR folks be sharing their political viewpoints on Facebook?
@commammo @ScottSchablow You're both right, of course. Good reminder that common sense and legal ramifications are not one and the same!
1 year, 4 months ago on AT&T Loses Case; News Release Held Under Paid Advertising Laws