After my first ABC meeting, I approached our guest speaker Lauren Taylor, sports marketer for LSU, to thank her for her great advice on self-branding and to ask about her friend who she mentioned during her presentation.
She made a comment about her colleague and close friend, Ramsay McCoy of the Ramsay Michelle Group, who is now running her own Branding and Communication firm.
I decided to reach out to ask her for advice regarding opening my own PR firm. I introduced myself to Ramsay via email and we decided to set up a time to speak over the phone. While many of my questions where geared toward the PR/ Marketing industry, her advice can apply to anyone seeking to start their own business. Here is what I learned from her advice and a bit from my experience.
Learn the industry. Seek more skills/experience.
Seek out internships in your field. Get that real world experience. The lectures and depictions you see in class are not equal to actually going out there and working in the real world. I was lucky to have two internships this past summer and it was nothing like I expected it to be. In PR it is fast, non-stop work.
Have a Plan.
Something I had not thought about when dreaming about my own firm is the business plan or any plan to be honest. While creating a business plan is important, Ramsay made a point about creating a plan for what your services you will provide and how much you will charge. This is important so that you are prepared and are not undervaluing your work. In addition, she suggests having at least a thousand dollars of seed money for any licenses, projects or emergencies.
Don’t limit yourself.
I have been focused on having a PR firm for so long that I didn’t realize that I was limiting my opportunities. Just taking a look at Ramsay’s website, you can see that she covers all of the bases of Marketing and PR. Her services cover branding, event planning and outreach. With so much competition it is much better to have a wide variety of skills that you can offer to potential clients.
Join professional organizations such as ABC, PRSSA, etc. Being involved in school is always a plus, but continuing that involvement is even better. In addition to networking at school and in professional settings, Ramsay suggested making cold calls like the one I made. Don’t be afraid to reach out to professionals in your field. They are usually willing to give great advice to anyone seeking it.
The best way to get started is to just get out there. Don’t wait for the “perfect time.” Starting with a friend who has a business idea is a great way to explore the possibilities and start working in a more forgiving environment. Have confidence in your abilities and start working now.
Only through challenges can one truly grow as a professional. Getting out there and making a couple mistakes will benefit you in the long run. I am personally trying to gain that New York City experience this summer. Although I am from a big city, NYC is a completely different experience that will throw me into the adult world and I’m both excited and nervous about it.
Sandra Castillo is a Public Relations junior from Los Angeles, CA. Follow her on Twitter @CastilloSandra_.