By David Barrett, Managing Director, picpr

picpr is a specialist PR and photography agency, which launched in April of this year after brothers David and James Barrett joined forces, combining their skills, experience and contacts to form the company.

picpr had been an idea that I had had in my head for a long time. Although the concept is a simple one (providing pictures and PR support for businesses looking to create the right image and reach the right audiences), and having over 10 years experience in PR myself, whilst my brother having over 7 years in photography, the leap to go it alone is still a big one.

Before setting up the agency we did a lot of preparation and background work. I wanted everything to be perfect. I spoke with many PR pros and photographers asking them on their thoughts. I spoke with many journalists too, in particular our industry magazines, who report on other marketing agencies all the time. Most importantly I spoke with business owners and marketers (our key audiences). The feedback was very useful, and helped shaped the picpr offering.

Although we’re just five months in, already I’ve learnt a lot as a business owner, and have put together these 5 quick tips to help those wanting to set up their own business, and more importantly make it a winning business, from the off:

1. Build that database

As a marketer I’m a firm believer that having a database, and more importantly pro-actively engaging with that database, is key to building any successful business. So from the very beginning, before picpr even launched, we spent hours pulling together all our contacts, so that straight away we can let people/businesses know about picpr, and keep them updated with everything that is going. Every marketing activity we do, a lot of it is in order to obtain people’s contact details, and build that database; creating a healthy sales pipeline, keeping us front of mind, and of course bringing in sales. So before you launch, make sure you have a strong database in place to launch to, and keep building!

2. Be flexible

As mentioned before we spent a lot of time preparing our launch. Putting together various marketing materials to support the picpr concept. But just a few weeks in we quickly found that we were having conversations that we weren’t expecting to be having, e.g. getting asked to do video, help with direct marketing campaigns, events, as well as the core press office activity that you’d expect from a PR agency. Because of this we’ve already changed our offering considerably. We’ve hired a videographer and have completely re-jigged the website (live at the end of August) to reflect this. So be prepared to change things. We operate in a very fast-paced world, so learn to embrace, and learn to be flexible. Nothing is set in stone.

3. Be patient

Right from the off we had a ‘hitlist’ of contacts to go for. We met with these people, and put together proposals and costings. We’ve found already that people aren’t in a rush to make a decision. We don’t adopt any hard sales approach here, as only want to be working with clients who really want our services. But I’m finding that people who we met in April are now just asking us to start working on their behalf. So be prepared to be patient. Looking back I would of started talking to people long before the official launch, so if you can, I would definitely recommend in doing this!

4. Have people challenge you

I’m fortunate enough to have set the company up with my brother. We’re both very different, which is a good thing, as we challenge each other all the time, and often James would highlight things that I would have never even taken into account. Being a business owner of a start-up can be quite lonely, especially if it’s just you from the beginning. So surround yourself with like-minded people. Friends, and family will always offer support, but perhaps won’t question things. We’ve got a good network of freelancers and other professionals in place who work on our client campaigns, but also who act as a soundboard who we can bounce off ideas and so forth.

5. Remember why you’re doing it

We set up picpr for a number of reasons. And I think it’s important to keep focused as to why you are doing it. Otherwise you can quickly lose your passion. For me, I wanted to create an agency that is different than the traditional PR agencies out there, which can provide clients with a truly unique and brilliant marketing solution. I also wanted to prove myself, make a bit more money, and shut that office door at 5.30pm on a Friday, and not go in until Monday morning. So far I think I’ve done that, although I did nip into emails one Sunday night!

If you would like to talk to David at picpr about setting up a company in today’s current climate, or perhaps talk more about picpr’s services, then please do not hesitate to phone 01242 248789, email david@picpr.com or even follow the company on Twitter @picpr