Top five (Disney-themed...) tips for starting your own PR agency

Exactly two years ago this week, we resigned from our well-paid, warm-desked, lovely big jobs at a well-respected agency in Soho.

Opening curtains on a new venture: Strickland (top) with business partner Gary Wheeldon
Opening curtains on a new venture: Strickland (top) with business partner Gary Wheeldon

We thought that day was going to be one of the hardest of our careers, mincing in hand in hand, but to be honest, that morning turned out to be a walk in the park compared to the subsequent two years spent hustling, boozing, pitching, winning and sometimes even [gulp] losing.

So now it felt an appropriate time to pass on our wisdom like a cough on a Tube train, with a 'top five tips if you’re thinking of making the leap' list.

And we’ve themed it around Disney films because, well, January.

1. Roll up your sleeves Cinders, because things gonna get cray girl

As business owners, we work pretty much 365. This year, on Christmas Day we were on a client call. We’ve have had full-blown chats inside the Vatican at anniversary dinners and once, I mistakenly facetimed Gary instead of calling him on holiday and got a full frontal in his tanga briefs. He works out though, so that’s fine.

You will work more than ever before, but every hour is yours, so it just doesn’t feel as hard as it might do right now. You are filling your own purse, not someone else’s.

2. Welcome to the Island of Naboombu (and other amazing agency names)

We had everything from ChipPR to Dark Horse to GAS (Gary And Steve) to Wheeldon-Doyle & Strickland Associates ('have you been injured in a fall that wasn’t your fault?') before landing on a right name for us.

Revel in the creative bits - the logo, the brand colours, the website photography - because there will be plenty of other times where you are trying to sort out media monitoring contracts, and it blows harder than the whale in Pinocchio.

3. Make like a very modern Robin Hood and build a merry group of non-gender-specific individuals

Nobody starts a business with the belief that it will fail and if done right, success can be pretty meteoric, so think about your team early and start stalking the people you want to hire. Remember that the good witches are normally on three months [notice] so get in early with the offer. Business will come; keep the faith.

4. Change quicker than Mulan in a male sauna

The original business we set out to launch has changed over time with every new client or colleague, like adding an ingredient to an ever-changing pot of Tiana's gumbo, creating – in our opinion – a more delicious end product. As a small business, embracing change and being nimble is part of the attraction, so go with the flow. Just make sure your values remain the same.

5. True loves kiss, aka your first client

Winning your first client is like scoring coverage when you started out in PR. The joy is orgasmic and to be savoured. Whilst you may not be able to reward yourself financially at first (because you’ve taken out a second mortgage against your husband’s advice or something like that… ahem) give yourself five reflective minutes to realise that the journey has started, you’ve started to swim upstream, and in the words of Walt himself: "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."

Steve Strickland is co-founder of Talker Tailor Trouble Maker

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