Hot Home Business: Publicist

Want to work from home but not sure what you can do? The Hot Home Business Directory helps you find a business to run out of your home, lists the skills you need to do it and tells how to get started and where to get more information. Read on to find out if this Hot Home Biz is for you!

What You'll Do:

Perform a variety of duties for businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals to promote their image, products or services. The idea is to generate interest in your clients through special events and media attention. This, in turn, will help your clients increase their profits and project a positive image.

As a publicist, you will be responsible for promotional and public relations tasks, including writing press releases and brochures, compiling press kits and video tapes, arranging media interviews and spokesperson appearances, planning conferences and other events, and communicating over the Internet. Your business strategy should be twofold: to line up newcomers who can benefit from a short-term media blitz and to contract with a few steady clients who have ongoing publicity needs.

Skills You'll Need:

Publicists work closely with their clients, often speaking on the phone several times a week and meeting in person to map out strategies. Although you don't need any formal education to become a publicist, it helps to have a background in communications and marketing. Technical know-how is also a plus, as you may be called on to host a videoconference, coordinate a Power Point presentation or make suggestions for a Website. Some other skills that would also prove helpful:

  • An outgoing personality
  • Good writing and communication skills
  • The persistence and connections to develop and pursue media contacts
  • The ability to read the marketplace and position your clients' unique selling points
  • Good organizational skills
  • Willingness to collaborate on ideas
  • Lots of patience

Equipment You'll Need:

  • Computer, two-line telephone, cell phone for constant access
  • Directory of media outlets, such as Talk Show Selects, Power Media Selects and O'Dwyer's Report (see Resources below)
  • Professional-looking letterhead, business cards and other promotional materials

Start-Up Costs:

  • About $1,000 for office supplies and equipment (excluding a computer) and marketing materials (business cards, letterhead, brochures and so on).
  • A clothing allowance of about $500 to purchase a couple of professional-looking outfits. Home-based publicists often have to attend onsite client meetings, press conferences or events, and should project a polished image.
  • Liability insurance in case dissatisfied clients file lawsuits. Another option is to structure your business as an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) or S-corporation to protect your assets.

How Much Can You Make?

Anywhere from $20 to $100 or more an hour, depending on your clients and geographical area. Nonprofit agencies typically pay lower fees; large corporations pay on the high end. You can also negotiate per project fees if you are working with a client on a short-term assignment such as a press kit, videoconference or event. Calculate approximately how many hours the project will take, adding a cushion of time to protect yourself, before you name your project fee.

How to Break In:

  • Interview publicists at corporations and in agencies to get a feel for the work. Offer to help out with some of their workload by writing a press release, making phone calls to editors and producers, lining up space and equipment for an event or doing some of the other nitty-gritty work associated with the job.
  • Do your homework. Carefully read local and national newspapers, listen to radio and TV shows, and research online news outlets and Websites thoroughly so you can target them effectively.
  • Visit new businesses in your area and offer to help promoting them to the community. New restaurants, shops and small businesses often hire publicists to get the word out to potential customers in the first three months after they open. You can do this for a nominal fee until you get a few jobs under your belt.
  • Contact hospitals, fundraising organizations, the PTA and other nonprofits to determine their public relations needs. If money is tight, volunteer to help out with a project they're conducting by writing a press release or leaflet for free; volunteerism can lead to a moneymaking position or relationship.
  • Establish relationships with graphic designers, printers, photographers, Web designers and other professionals essential to producing press kits, brochures, videos, Websites and so on. Keep a list at the ready.
  • Put together a portfolio of press releases, brochures and other materials to take around to potential clients. If you don't have anything to show, create some materials about a made-up client or about your own business.
  • Join a professional organization devoted to public relations so you can network with others in the field, get leads, learn the ropes and keep on top of developments.

Resources:

Directory of News Sources
Media Mentor -- online media training
Partyline -- weekly newsletter alerting publicists to media placement opportunities
Press Kits -- custom printing of press kits
Press Release Writing -- sample releases and how-to's
Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) -- national professional organization with local chapters around the country
The Publicity Hound -- tips, tricks and tools for low-cost publicity from a pro
O'Dwyers PR Daily -- online report from the experts on public relations and media news


Interested in other home businesses? Browse the hottest ones right now!

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