PR and relationship management needs have rapidly evolved over the last few years with more brands than ever focusing on their online presence and everything that comes with it. Reputation and customer satisfaction have become even more vital for brands who want to stand out in a busy market.
Relying on experienced PR professionals to manage press, social media and business relations is often the best way to ensure top exposure for brands. Managing multiple relationships and expectations are all in a day’s work for PR specialists like Vanessa Munnings, who has worked as a freelance PR specialist for over five years, having said goodbye to agency life.
Having only used YunoJuno in the last few months, Vanessa was delighted to hear she’d won PR of the Year in the 2021 Freelance Awards
I’ve never won an award before and I was absolutely delighted, if a little stunned!
We spoke to Vanessa about protecting her contact lists and what it takes to carve out a career in public relations.
A former journalist who’s worked in-house and agency-side, Vanessa was latterly MD of a PR agency and made the shift to freelance in 2017. One of the many benefits Vanessa can offer her clients is being cost-effective, as she doesn't have the overheads bigger organisations have.
I find that my clients like knowing that they will get a senior individual with considerable experience to manage their account, rather than a senior team to pitch and then a stream of different juniors every day.
Sharing her top advice for anyone else thinking about going into PR, Vanessa expresses the importance of protecting contact lists
Be straight with clients from the get-go. If they ask for a media list with contacts on it or to be cc’d into emails to press, explain why you can’t, no matter how much you value their business. As PRs, we are only as good as our contacts, which we have spent years building up. In my case, over 20 years. It’s not just a matter of not giving away the ‘crown jewels’, but it’s also a matter of GDPR - and journalists won’t thank you for it!
Ever wondered how PR professionals multi-task whilst keeping their clients updated with press activity online? With every client, no matter how large or small, Vanessa creates Google doc PR trackers, which are shared with her clients, keeping them up to date with what’s happening on their account. It’s not rocket science, but it works!
Like all freelance roles, the PR industry continues to evolve and change so keeping up to date is vital. Some of the resources Vanessa recommends include:
I find Response Source invaluable in getting a stream of good leads and helping to build new contacts, as well as free services, like Editorielle. Response Source isn’t cheap, but individuals can look at splitting the costs with another PR, which I have done in the past. Join Facebook PR groups, so you can use other people as sounding boards. Google searches aren't brilliant at picking up all coverage, but cutting agencies are expensive. Be mindful of NLA/CLA regulations and make sure you are familiar with the rules re sharing coverage and posting on social channels, so you don’t fall foul of them!
If you’re considering a career change or want to explore freelance PR as a new avenue, Vanessa recommends
Getting a job with a PR agency first or working as a journalist to understand the industry.
For a client looking to work with a PR professional, Vanessa’s top tip is to fully trust the PR process and understand the difference between PR and advertising. Finally, if you’re working as a PR or want to explore it further, Vanessa has one main rule she works by:
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got! That’s my mantra! Change up your offering but, always, always agree KPIs and have a written agreement before cracking on, no matter how eager you are to start getting results! That strategy protects both you and your clients.
If you’re looking to work with an experienced PR professional, you can book Vanessa here.