The missing ingredient to get paid more as a PR professional


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Written by Jennifer R. Hudson, ThinkBeyond Public Relations

Many of us think clients won’t pay for work outside the scope of what we were originally hired to do.

And yet, we see the bigger communications challenges weighing down the organization.

We’re crystal clear that the lack of alignment, clarity and consistency is impacting our ability to do great work.
We know a more strategic focus would help everyone get on the same page.

But we assume the issues are too deeply ingrained, that we’ve been hired to secure press coverage, and that our input won’t make a bit of difference.

After all, it was hard enough to secure budget for the existing work; even if we could help, the client won’t want to pay for it.

And so, we stay in our lane, often focusing our output on securing press coverage.

But here’s what I’ve come to learn. We can help organizations to develop strategic communication work that supports goals across departments. And companies will absolutely pay for that help.

In fact, getting out of your lane is one of the best ways to build your business.

When you decide you want to be the badass strategist every company needs (even if they don’t know it), you can position yourself to earn a minimum of $5K for upgrading your services. You’ll also impact organizations in a much more profound way and demonstrate the value of communications to business success.

My client, Cheryl, stepped out of her lane and earned thousands more to facilitate a corporate messaging workshop for a client who had initially wanted her to develop a brochure.

Cheryl is a seasoned marketer with more than 20 years of experience, so yeah, she could create a beautiful brochure, but how would that help them grow their business over the long-term? Not only would a one-off brochure not achieve that, but her relationship with them might end with one project.

When she researched the company’s current communications, she discovered they were all over the place. What the heck would a brochure even say? They operate in a crowded space and she knew they would need to uncover something deeper to distinguish their brand.

Cheryl made three critical moves that helped her win this additional scope of work:

She did her homework

To make the case for a messaging workshop that would involve flying in staff (remember those days?), Cheryl did her research so she could show the gaps in message consistency and clarity. She found best practice examples of other companies doing it well. She identified the bright spots in their current communications (she didn’t want to be a total Debbie Downer).

In fact, getting out of your lane is one of the best ways to build your business.

She went straight to the top

Messaging workshops involve the key internal stakeholders who typically communicate out about the organization: sales, HR, marketing, product development and others. She correctly understood that for a multi-departmental approach like this to stick, the CEO had to give her blessing. Cheryl used her research, plus a great set of talking points tailored to their unique situation, to make a clear case to the big decision-maker about the need for a more strategic approach.

She shared the framework

Cheryl explained the six-phase process she would use to help them uncover and agree on the best of who they are, the ideal target audiences they should reach, the products or services that deserved the most attention, what makes them truly unique, and why anyone should care.

Because Cheryl stepped out of her lane, she won the “out-of-scope” work. She’s now positioned herself as a trusted adviser for the long-term. And yes, she’s still doing the brochure.

The best part is that Cheryl can now command a minimum of $5K for strategic work forever.

Clients want and need strategic expertise, and communications pros need to be able to provide it. I’ve found (as Cheryl did), that they’ll reward this kind of value over and over again.

About Jennifer R. Hudson

Jennifer R. Hudson, APR, is a passionate advocate for strategic communications. As the founder of ThinkBeyond Public Relations, she works with emerging businesses and nonprofits to develop and implement communications plans tied to their business objectives. Hudson also trains communications leaders to do the strategic work every organization needs. She offers an 8-week premium program, including an online course + live coaching, to teach experienced PR and marketing pros how to lead clients through corporate messaging sessions. Contact Jennifer to receive her tip sheet, “Start With the CEO” and chat about leveling up the strategic skills you’ll need to grow your business.


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