After following a couple of US-based PR professionals on Twitter, I noticed them contributing to a tweetchat hashtagged #SoloPR (these take place on Wednesday lunchtimes in the US eastern seaboard, so early evening in the UK). As the tag suggests, it is a tweetchat run for sole practitioners in public relations (there is also a SoloPRPro website/blog, and all the social media engagement you would expect – Twitter, Facebook, etc), and it attracts several regular contributors and other more occasional lurkers – like me. (The CIPR has also started doing #CIPRchat Tweetchats – I lurked in one just yesterday).
Running my own small business based in London, I often feel like I am in a small minority of PR people, surrounded by practitioners based in agencies or in-house. I have friends who run their own solo businesses, not all in PR, but for those that are I’ve been wondering about creating a soloPRUK network to complement the US version.
The CIPR welcomes freelances but doesn’t have a national member group or sectoral group specifically for such PR professionals, though I understand at least one regional group has a freelance network (Wessex’s “PR and a Pint”). And the CIPR PRide Awards include a category for outstanding freelance practitioner. Perhaps the time is right to use social media to help us connect with each other and share ideas and advice in the same way that Kellye Crane’s community does in the US?
PR Census suggests strong UK freelance presence
Collectively, I am sure we freelances contribute a significant proportion of members’ fees paid to the CIPR, and also undertake a significant amount of activity within the UK PR sector. I have been browsing the results from the PRCA‘s 2013 PR Census (published this week – and, yes, I know the PRCA also welcomes freelancers) which calculates that the PR industry contributes £9.62 billion to the UK economy, and has 62,000 employees.
Based on its survey and other resources, the report suggests around 6% of the PR industry are freelancers (so, around 3,700 people) who – according to the Census – are:
- more likely to have over 20 years experience (51% versus an average of 36%)
- more likely to have a masters degree or a PhD (yup!)
- more likely to speak a foreign language (most often French)
- better paid (mean: £73,322) than the industry average (£53,781)
- less likely to spend time actually doing PR, as they must spend more time on “securing work and self-promotion”
To me, this suggests that a freelance PR network could be a powerful resource, helping members tap into a wealth of experience and skills. Maybe I will make this a project for 2014….