There is a huge industry of PR and marketing freelancers, quietly supporting businesses all around Manchester, Cheshire, Lancashire and indeed – the whole of the UK. In fact, recent data by IPSE has found that there were two million freelancers working in the UK, of all professions, in 2016, and that figure increased by 43% from 2008 – 2016.
Of course, there are a huge amount of benefits to employing a freelance PR and marketing consultant to fill a skills gap within a business, as opposed to a full-time employee or a PR agency, for example. However, many businesses have never worked with a freelance marketing consultant before and aren’t quite sure whether it will be worth their investment.
I’ve put together a list of benefits to using a freelance business consultant, but I’d be interested to know of any more that business owners or other freelancers think are important to them.
- Lower costs than a PR agency
Let’s go straight in with the money factor, because on top of all the other benefits, money talks. A freelancer on two to four days per month will always work out less than employing a PR agency or a full-time employee.
A freelance consultant will always have much lower overheads than an agency as they don’t have to pay for an office, business rates, employees’ salaries and all the other costs of running a business. Most freelancers work from a laptop, so could be at home, in a coffee shop or a co-working space.
And compared to a full-time employee you aren’t responsible for paying their National Insurance, tax, pension contributions, holiday or sick pay.
- No long-term contracts
I usually work on 30 day terms with my clients, which is a definite bonus for any type of business in order to remain flexible and responsive to their own financial needs. If the relationship isn’t working for them or their circumstances change, they can end the working relationship with one month’s notice – and no hard feelings at all. Many times, I find a PR client comes back to me when they have another project in mind, or they need another service like social media or website copywriting, for example.
Compare this to a permanent employee’s rights, and that is an amazing freedom for a growing business. In comparison, many large PR agencies require a three month contract to terminate a business relationship, which can be a significant commitment for a small business.
If preferable you can also employ freelancers on project by project basis if you have specific campaigns that need rolling out.
- Top level senior professionals
All of the freelance PR and marketing consultants that I know (including myself of course) have worked for large agencies and businesses as very senior professionals, so as a full-time employee can command high figures. For their own reasons, they choose to work as an independent consultant, hireable by the month, day or the hour. This means your small business can afford incredibly high quality PR and marketing support, without the £40k+ annual salary.
- Becoming part of your team
Like most consultants, I enjoy working alone and am more than motivated enough to get up every day and be very productive from home – with the added benefits of being able to put the washing machine on.
However, my ideal client will treat me as one of their team, sharing information and including me on new developments and updates so I can fully understand the company and how it works and use that to find the best PR strategies and tactics.
This doesn’t mean I need to be invited out on the Christmas do, but you really can get the most of a freelance consultant by treating them as part of your extended team when it comes to day-to-day business.
- Flexible contracts
Although any independent consultant will appreciate steady and consistent contracts, I am always willing to work with a company’s ups and downs, as long as they are honest and keep me updated as soon as possible. Many businesses, especially my horticulture or landscaping clients, have seasonal and peak periods, so need to up their media relations and marketing for a few months or the year and reduce them at other times.
This just would not be possible with a permanent member of staff, and is harder to negotiate with an agency.
- You get a contract with one person and one person alone
It is an enormous benefit to build an ongoing business relationship with just one consultant, rather than employing a PR agency. Having worked for many (very good) PR agencies, as a business owner you still run the risk that the team you meet on pitch day might not be the team you work with on a day-to-day basis. You might only get to see the account director on quarterly meetings, and your day-to-day business is dealt with by junior account execs. With a freelance consultant, you know that is the person you will build your relationship with and who will be representing your business on your behalf at all times.
- Remote working benefits
If you find the right freelancer for the job with all the right skills and an amazingly relevant work history, it doesn’t matter if they don’t live in the same city or town as you. I have clients all over the UK, and some of them I might only meet face-to-face once a year.
This means you can expand your pool of talent to find the right person, with the right skills for your business, without being bound by geography and commuting times, as you would with a full-time employee.
Most of our day-to-day work will be via email or updated on Trello, with phone calls for detailed discussion and quick responses. There are multitudes of ways to work alongside a freelance PR or marketing consultant, so unlike a permanent employee, you don’t need them to be able to drive into the office every day.
8. Networks with other freelance consultants and specialists
The PR, marketing and digital industry, particularly in Manchester, is very close with lots of networks, collaboration and events. When you find a good freelance consultant, they can draw upon their network of contacts across marketing, web design, SEO, digital marketing and graphic design for any other project requirements.
In fact, you can also be introduced to other freelance PR consultants who may specialise in your area. I often make introductions for prospective clients to other freelancers who I think would suit their needs perfectly.
The above tip was added in by Claire Gamble of Unhooked Communications, after I posted it on a freelance forum, in the spirit of collaboration and networking.
As you can see from the above, there are multitudes of perks to commissioning a freelancer to support your business.
Please give me a shout on firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to find out more about what I can do to support your business. I mainly work with clients working in horticulture and landscaping and the environment, arts and charities/ CICs.