If you’re not a fan of the ol’ 9 to 5, freelancing is an exciting alternative to consider. When it comes to public relations careers, many people branch out to consulting roles and take up clients in a freelance capacity. Not only does a career in freelance PR consulting pay well, but it also allows you to work remotely from anywhere in the world. So, if you aspire to be a digital nomad, this may be a viable career move for you.
Without further ado, let’s jump right into answering how to become a PR freelancer in India.
How To Become a PR Freelancer in India
The first thing to do before embarking on a career as a PR freelancer in India is to gain experience for at least a few years by working at a full-time PR job. This will ensure that you have a first-hand experience of what goes into crafting, proposing, pitching, and executing successful PR strategies. Additionally, it will also help you understand your strengths and weaknesses so that you can work on them before you start wondering how to become a PR freelancer in India.
As a freelance consultant, you are responsible for almost all the duties related to maintaining an organization’s online and offline reputation. This means that your duties will encompass many different verticals and areas of expertise. While liasoning, networking, and reaching out to pitch stories for your clients will be one of your primary responsibilities, you will have to should other responsibilities.
Some of your essential duties as a PR freelancer will include –
1. Plan and Develop Communication and PR Strategies
Success rarely comes to those who don’t have a clear strategy in place. This is why as a freelancer, you will have to work on your planning and strategizing abilities, as well as brush up on your skills related to implementation.
To ensure the best results for your clients, learn how to liaise with your connections in the media, with key spokespeople, and across essential organizations. Since you will have to communicate via email, the phone, or over video conferencing apps, make sure you learn how to pitch across these mediums.
You will also have to research, write and distribute updates, press releases, and other information to your targeted media outlets, so it doesn’t hurt to upskill if these don’t fall under your expertise.
For your clients, you will also have to put together analyzed media coverage for review purposes. This data will also help you keep track of your client’s performance and will help you revise, tweak or change your communication approach if needed.
2. Organize and Execute Events
When we say ‘events’, we are referring to everything from a simple photo-op to a more complex press conference. While you will have to organize, plan for, arrange and execute these events, you will also have to do other things like plan ahead for probable crises, oversee and coordinate on-ground activities and update information on online portals, official websites, etc.
At times, you will also have to manage, plan and source key deliverables for sponsorship opportunities, special events, exhibitions, etc. It’s also essential to pitch, prepare and supervise the production of promotional videos, brochures, direct mail collaterals, handouts, brand films, etc.
If you work with organizations that warrant market research, you may be responsible for commissioning and overseeing the same. Additionally, as a freelance PR consultant, you will be responsible for fostering community relations for your clients through regular involvement in social or community-centric initiatives.
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3. Develop a Logical and Objective Thought-Process
It goes without saying that as a PR professional, you will often be at the epicentre of one crisis or another. Your role in such situations would be to tactfully pull your client out of the fire without damaging their reputation or letting businesses get affected. This requires you to be quick, objective and logical in immense pressure situations and where the stakes are high.
Apart from this, you should be able to multitask to monitor multiple media and digital platforms simultaneously. Needless to say, you also need to be quick when it comes to decision-making and have the ability to work under tight and demanding deadlines. If you aren’t already good at these, consider brushing up on your interpersonal skills and your crisis management abilities to ensure that you’re able to do your best for your clients.
Make sure you’re prepared to deal with these demands before you set out to answer the question of how to become a PR freelancer in India.
4. Maintain Your Professional Network
When you embark on your career as a PR professional, you are bound to meet people and connect with executives, writers, reporters, journalists, editors, etc., on a daily basis. Of course, you’ll reach out to them when there’s an emergency requirement or when you’re hoping to get coverage for your clients, but that’s not all.
While you will have to acclimate yourself to the process of pitching stories to these people, you will also have to learn how to maintain your relations with your professional network when you aren’t actively pitching stories on behalf of your clients.
This means that you will have to learn how to keep in touch with your professional network through the occasional email to check up on them or through a small goodie bag during the holiday season. Remember, the goal is not to come across as insincere or, worse, as if you’re bribing them into prioritizing your clients’ stories. Instead, try and be courteous, sincere, and dedicated to those in your network.
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5. Work on Your Soft Skills
Whether it is time-management, problem-solving, flexibility, or decision-making – these soft skills go hand-in-hand with your expertise in PR activities and operations. When it comes to cracking the code of how to become a PR freelancer, your soft skills have a huge role to play. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense!
Without critical soft skills like your interpersonal abilities or ‘people skills,’ it would be nearly impossible to pitch or land coverage. After all, who wants to work with someone who is rude, aggressive or someone who comes across as insincere? That’s why it’s best to invest in improving yourself and honing your soft skills.
While this article can act as a simple guide for those wondering about how to become a PR freelancer in India, it can only do so much. There are innumerable other skills, competencies, and expertise you need to develop before embarking on your journey as a freelance PR executive.
If you are looking to get into Public Relations, we have just the right opportunity for you. upGrad offers a Master’s degree in Public Relations from the University of Mumbai through its 2-year online program. There is a 6-month inbuilt internship included in the curriculum that comprises 30 learning hours.