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October 24 Event Recap – The PR entrepreneur: Best Practices for Independent Consultants and Boutique Agencies


Kathleen Hansma is a strategic communicator and passionate publicist with an entrepreneurial spirit. Her areas of expertise are in entertainment (film and television) and lifestyle brands. She can be contacted on LinkedIn  or @kathleenhansma on Twitter and Instagram.


OCTOBER 24, 2017 –
By Kathleen Hansma

As a freelance publicist who has contemplated opening my own PR firm, I was eager to attend the October 24th CPRS event that focused on the best practices for independent consultants and boutique agencies. And from the large crowd that ventured through the brisk windy weather to attend, I could see that I was among like-minded individuals.

The selected panellists offered a wide range of perspectives with varying areas of expertise. The panel consisted of Mark LaVigne (President, Hunter LaVigne Communications), Sean Beckingham (President, Branding & Buzzing), Eric Bergman (President, Bergman & Associates) and Priya Chopra (President, 1Milk2SugarsPR Inc.).

To start the conversation, moderator Martin Waxman who is President of Martin Waxman Communications and a LinkedIn Learning Author, asked the panellists what is the biggest shock in starting their own business and becoming an entrepreneur. The top answers to come out of the discussion were that it takes a long time, technical ability alone is not enough, you can’t keep every client forever and that it is imperative that you stay current during constant change. Priya Chopra said that the last two years have been the ones with the most change out of her twelve years in the industry.

From an operational standpoint, the top tips offered for those emerging entrepreneurs were to get a mentor, have a good quality computer and internet plan, a sharp suit, reliable transportation and have staffing in place for when last minute opportunities come up. Start developing a team of people you can work with and lean on to continue growth. However, make sure that the project is a good fit for you. Take into consideration the potential clients budget and approximate hours it will take to accomplish. Do the math, is it worth it? From Eric Bergman, our accounting advocate, the advice was to ensure you are living within your means; pay CRA, then you and then invest.

The common theme throughout the night was that passion must be your driving force; know what you want to do and then get really good at it. Continue to have conversations with people and verify that there is a market for the service you are providing. And while you are out there socializing, have a life! Don’t focus solely on your company, have hobbies or something that offers a reprieve from what can be an all-encompassing project.

Now if this conversation didn’t scare you away and you’re still contemplating opening your own firm, think of the rocking chair test. When you are 80 years old and in that rocking chair will you look back and think ‘I wish I would have taken that leap’?

As for me, I’m taking the leap.