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Independent Practitioners: A Special Breed of Public Relations Professionals


Submitted by Nathan Hokama, IPA Past President 2014

Launching any business is a big challenge.  It may be even more difficult if that business involves selling professional services. It’s simply not the same as selling tangible products. Independent public relations practitioners are a special breed who face even greater obstacles.  We must not only sell intangible services, but also explain what the public relations function entails. We may find ourselves having to respond to two questions.  First, there is the perennial question that’s all too familiar: “What exactly is public relations?”  This may be followed by a new question:  “You mean, you get paid to do that?!”

We may be responsible for developing news releases, brochures, and other work products, but our core business involves selling our expertise in communications.  We provide business advice, offer strategic communication counsel, and develop messaging – services that may be expressed in the execution of our work products.

It may be simple enough for public relations professionals, but for our audience and clients it may seem like a foreign language. Fortunately, PRSA’s Independent Practitioners Alliance (IPA) offers valuable resources and a network of support for independent practitioners.  There’s no one who can better understand the special challenges of an independent practitioner than another independent practitioner. We all speak the same language and, using our public relations expertise, are determined to make sure others understand who we are, what we do…and why we get paid for what we do! IPA has a growing treasure of resources for you.

The Counselors Academy is another great source of information and networking. Another of PRSA’s professional interest sections, Counselors Academy offers agency principals and senior leaders in agency environments, as well as independent practitioners information on best practices for owning and managing a successful agency.   Some members of Counselors Academy have started as independent practitioners and used the knowledge and networking gained through their membership to evolve their agencies. Whether you remain an independent practitioner or choose to grow your agency, PRSA and its special interest sections like IPA and Counselors Academy are excellent ways to gain a thorough understanding of the basics of operating your own practice.  Be sure to visit IPA website and blog and the Counselors Academy website for regular updates and practical advice to move your practice forward as well as information about upcoming webinars and conferences.

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