Carefully Crafted on March 01

Morphing From PR Pro to Businessperson

I’m a PR person.

Well, I was a PR person.

Today, I’m a businessperson.

Actually, I’ve been a business owner for 6 years, but it wasn’t until recently that I completed my transition from PR pro to businessperson. My obsession with media lists and Twitter lists has (mostly) been replaced by an obsession with forecasting spreadsheets and business development pipelines.

Recently, I attended a local forum, moderated by a member of the media. After the event, I made a point to chat with two people on our business development prospect list (bonus: scored meetings with both!). I networked with a few other “friends of Geben,” clients and referral sources.

You know who I didn’t talk to? The moderator … the media person.

Leaving the event, I realized a PR pro would make a beeline for the reporter, especially this one. We have a fantastic relationship with her. A PR person would congratulate her on her panel moderation skills, thank her for covering another one of our clients and see what she’s currently working on or interested in. But, I didn’t. Truth be told, it didn’t even dawn on me. What captured my interest instead? The opportunity to have meaningful interactions with two business development prospects.

And that’s when I realized I’d fully morphed from a PR person to a businessperson.

•••

At some point, business owners need to realize where their time is best spent and then delegate the rest. It’s a conversation I regularly have with startup founders. Often, early-stage startup founders try to do everything themselves, or with very, very lean teams. But, at some point, those founders realize their time should be spent where they can have the biggest impact — things like business development or product visioning and roadmapping. It makes more sense to hire us because we specialize in tech PR than to spend hours and hours trying to figure it out themselves, only to end up with lackluster results.

Being a businessperson is decidedly different than being “in the weeds” focusing on tactical execution, whatever industry you’re in. Last year at this time, #TeamGeben was eight people. We just hired our 23rd employee and are actively hiring a few more. That kind of growth doesn’t just happen. But, it couldn’t happen if I was still primarily a PR person. For my company to grow — smartly and quickly — I had to shift my focus to where I could make the most impact. In other words, my time is now mostly spent working on the business, not in the business. (Thankfully, we’ve built an amazing team so we continue to deliver exceptional results!)

And so, while I’ll always be the PR person who gets excited about a media placement or successfully executing a content marketing campaign, my job is no longer PR pro. Instead, I’m a businessperson.

6 comments
ginidietrich
ginidietrich

When I went through this transition, a business advisor said to me, "Do you want to be a kick ass PR person or a kick ass company grower?" His point was: You can't continue to make a beeline for the journalist (aka stay down in the weeds) AND scale a business. So good for you! You've made a hard, but necessary decision! 

theelusivefish
theelusivefish

I fully understand the point you're making with respect to the different responsibilities and mindset between someone front-line on the work and someone managing the work.


That said, I'd say that you've not so much morphed into a 'business person' but leveled up as a PR professional so that you've attained boss level.  The junior PR professional does think in terms of lists and the biggest shiniest flashiest thing in the room.  The boss-level PR professional thinks in terms of business objectives, and effectiveness of relations.  You didn't bee-line to the biggest name in the room, whom it sounds like you've already established a solid working relationship.  Instead you bee-lined to those who can best help you achieve what you're after; building and strengthening your relationships with them.


Now if a lifetime of playing video games have taught me anything, it's that you've got a cut-scene to enjoy this level-up transition but then it will be followed by even greater challenges.  Maybe giant robots.  Maybe angry turtles in clouds dropping spikey balls.  Doesn't matter.  Once you've hit the next level there's no going back, it's just onward and upward to even better rewards.

ProfJasmine
ProfJasmine

@prtini excellent article! Great to see the growth of local businesses!

prtini
prtini

@nateriggs thanks, Nate! It's a transition you probably know very well, too! :)

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  1. […] Morphing From PR Pro to Businessperson: Being just six weeks into my solopreneurship journey, I can completely relate to Heather Whaling’s switch in thinking from labeling herself a PR pro to a businessperson. […]

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