Many companies and agencies are busier than ever, as budgets begin to rebound with the economy starting to roar back.
Some have begun rehiring and restoring pay cuts after making reductions during the pandemic, according to Business Insider.
If anecdotal evidence is any indication, the public relations business is booming. Agencies are looking for freelance help while they also try to hire full-time staff. Businesses that understand the importance of getting out there as people are spending money again are also eager to tap into the power of what PR offers.
There’s also this: “The global public relations market size is expected to grow from $88.13 billion in 2020 to $97.13 billion in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.2%. The public relations industry growth is mainly due to the companies rearranging their operations and recovering from the COVID-19 impact, which had earlier led to restrictive containment measures involving social distancing, remote working, and the closure of commercial activities that resulted in operational challenges,” says the Business Research Company.
While this is certainly a positive development, how can agencies and companies interested in ramping up their public relations meet the demand? Hiring freelancers can help.
Hire Freelancers to Help Meet Your PR Goals
1) The advantages of bringing freelancers on board.
If you need help during a particularly busy period – or you’re growing your business, for example – freelancers can provide a solution.
Many freelancers like to work on a project basis, so you could hire them for a specific project or timeframe. Working with freelance help allows you to scale up – or down – as needed more easily than hiring full-time help.
Because freelancers pay their own expenses, like healthcare, and can work from anywhere, there’s no need to provide them with benefits, office space or equipment, saving budget.
There are also situations in which you may need someone with expertise in a particular area, perhaps a vertical market or a specific skill. Freelancers are a great fit for this, as they may specialize in a niche area. For example, if your internal team is light on experience in medical technology, but you need assistance with a client in that industry, hiring a freelance PR consultant with that background could help fill the gap.
2) How to find good freelancers.
There are many ways to search for freelance assistance. One of the best ways is through referrals. Ask those in your network who they might recommend.
Beyond that, you can search on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. Freelancers are often active there and will sometimes use hashtags like #FreelancerForHire, #PRConsulting, #WriterForHire and so forth. You can also post your need there to see who others may recommend.
And, once you’ve established a relationship with a reliable freelancer, you can come back to them when you need assistance. Some even find it worthwhile to keep that person on retainer, so they know they’ll be there when they need them.
3) How to set up a healthy working arrangement with freelancers.
Once you’ve decided to work with a freelancer, it’s a good idea to establish some guidelines to ensure a healthy working relationship:
- Remember that the freelancer is NOT an employee. Yes, you want to treat them as part of the team – but you shouldn’t expect them to take part in every activity an in-house worker will. Be respectful of their time and try not to require them to participate in every meeting or be present on every platform (like Slack) your internal team may be required to take part in. If you do expect them to be part of these activities, be sure to pay them for their time.
- Communicate clearly – and regularly – with your freelancer. A common complaint of freelancers is that clients sometimes forget to communicate deadlines or feedback in a timely fashion. This can be frustrating and also impact deadlines. From the freelancer’s point of view, a client that engages will generally take priority over one that doesn’t.
- Stick to the agreed-upon scope of work. If the scope begins to creep – and nothing is said – this can sour the relationship. If you find your needs go beyond the work initially agreed upon, it’s fine to communicate that to the freelancer and discuss how to handle it. It may mean adding more hours or renegotiating the initial terms.
4) Red flags to watch out for when working with freelancers.
While there can be issues on either side of the relationship, here are some red flags to watch for when working with a freelancer:
- They go silent for a prolonged period of time without communicating why
- They fail to meet deadlines
- They don’t want to collaborate with you and believe their way is the only way
- They don’t ask questions. You want your freelancer to be gathering as much information as possible, especially at the beginning of a project.
- They can’t deliver what they’ve promised. Perhaps during the sales process, they “oversold” themselves and their skills – and it begins to show once you start working together. They appear to be in over their heads.
Sometimes, it’s just not the right fit for reasons you may not even be able to pinpoint. They may simply have a work style that doesn’t jive with yours.
The good news is that if you find a relationship with one freelancer isn’t working out, there are others who would be eager to step in. In 2020, 59 million people were doing freelance work in the U.S., says Statista.
Look to Freelancers in the Post-Pandemic Period – and Beyond
As you ramp up to meet the post-pandemic demand for public relations, don’t overlook freelancers as a valuable resource to help.
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