As a PR freelancer, it’s natural to think of your clients as being the ones you have to set rules and expectations with – after all money is involved, right?
But the real time thieves could be your friends and family and they are probably harder than clients to say no to sometimes. But you have to set expectations as a professional PR freelancer.
Your home is a great place to work but it’s full of distractions and your friends and family only really know it as your home – the place where fun happens.
That means they also think of it like their home, as the place of little chores or favours and they don’t always appreciate that 20 minutes here for a phone call to check something or an errand to nip round the corner to pick something up while they are at work is a colossal distraction to your PR work and that getting back into the flow after dealing with something outside your work can be half an hour or more. There’s an hour of your PR day gone for ever.
Don’t be afraid of being firm and setting down clear rules that you don’t go to pick up your mate’s dry cleaning or agree to be the delivery address for their Amazon order.
If you invite your friends round, then tell them you want them gone by a certain time and tell them it’s a dry lunch not the start of a two-hour chat over a bottle of wine.
Protect Yourself as a PR Freelancer With Clear T&C’s
With clients the rules can be simpler, it’s all about starting on the right foot and making sure that the small print is your friend – especially when the going gets sticky.
Your terms and conditions should be clear and bullet proof for when they are tested – especially on payment terms and who pays for what when the brief changes and work already approved needs to be re-done. It happens so often, so put a reasonable clause in your T&Cs about re-work. No surprises.
And obviously, T&Cs are not much use if they are only referred to after the work has begun and even less useful if you bring them out only when a dispute raises its head.
Get them singed at the outset – you are a PR professional and it’s the professional way to conduct business.
Are you the bad guy?
Finishing the day with a clean break is one of the hardest things to do as a PR freelancer. You may not think it when you start out as a freelance, but that commute you used to despise, was actually a damn good barrier between you and the working day – even in the age of smartphones and the ‘always on’ mindset. If your papers are only 5 paces away from the dinner table, the temptation to tinker is there and if a client knows you you’ll answer a call or email late into the evening then it’s really hard to say no the second and third time.
Your effectiveness suffers and worse still your friends and family are never quite sure whether it’s the work you, or the ‘you’ you they are getting at any given time.
Let clients know that you stop work at a certain time and try to make it a routine that you get away from your home both physically and mentally at that time. And maybe, even leave your phone behind. Or at least turn data off!
Them’s the Rules – are you sticking by them?