In my never-ending quest to find out what I really want to do with my life, I came across a new avenue of public relations-- Freelancing.
After interning at an agency this past semester, I realized that perhaps agency work isn't quite the route I want to take upon graduating from college next year. I realized that I love to write, and often prefer working solo. I reached out through our Twitter to find other PR practitioners out there who have done some freelance work. Luckily, many people responded!
This is the seventh post in what is a series of posts featuring different PR freelancers.
After a few month hiatus, the freelance series is back, and better than ever! This week, I interviewed John Sternal, co-owner of Sternal Consulting.
Mr. Sternal describes freelance PR as something that companies utilize when they, "wish to retain outside PR counsel for a specific project or on an ongoing basis but they choose not to engage with a large public relations firm."
After graduating from the University of South Florida with a degree in communication, he gained experience in corporate communication with a Fortune-500 company, professional sports, small and large agencies, and now working as a co-principal with his own consulting firm.
When deciding on how to charge for freelance PR services, Mr. Sternal advises that there are two important aspects to consider. The first is to balance the value of your services, and the second is to think about what is going to win the business over. He reminds us that freelancing is ultimately a business, and the goal of a business is to make money, so it's important to think about what will be profitable.
Interestingly, throughout his career, Mr. Sternal did not become interested in freelancing until later. After clients approached him about doing work "on the side", Mr. Sternal realized how profitable freelancing could be. However, he warns that his success would not be the same had he not worked in other areas of PR before diving into freelancing. "There's a reason for the saying, "you must crawl before you walk," he said.
When asked how he obtains clients he jokingly says, "When you find out, could you let me know?" Mr. Sternal suggests thinking about your own interests, and focusing on courting clients who fall into that realm.
Mr. Sternal's favorite part of freelancing is answering to himself (and the client, of course). He enjoys knowing that he can focus on whatever aspect of PR he wants.
His least favorite part of freelancing is making sure you have clients and constantly searching for clients. He mentions that he does enjoy doing this, but it is time consuming.
To stay current with industry trends and news, Mr. Sternal relies on the Internet. "From Twitter and Facebook to LinkedIn, it's very easy to participate inside your industry circles and be a known player. I would also advise that you use many of these social media tools to set up actual face-to-face networking opportunities after hours outside of your home," he said.