Freelancer Diaries: Routine is the key to Success

Wednesday, 14 March 2018, 8:27 | Category : Guest Blogger
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Tracy Dickerson is a senior PR Network associate who has been part of our network for 4 years. She’s an accomplished media relations expert and superb storyteller who has worked on b2b and b2c campaigns for our clients Experian, Vistage, the Open University and www.ismybillfair.com. After gaining a PR degree and working in-house she set up her freelance business PR by Northstar after having her daughter Mia in 2013. Here Tracy gives us a glimpse of her busy day fuelled by coffee, bootcamps and (finally) Malbec…

6am: On goes BBC breakfast so I can see what’s going on in the world. If I’m pitching and something big has broken I can work out a new plan of attack. Equally, this often plays out in my favour and allows me to hijack news for my clients.
I give myself an hour in the morning to get my head together and tackle my long commute – all 20 seconds down the stairs!

7am: My husband gets our five year old daughter ready for breakfast club so after a quick ten minute run through spellings and the latest reading book, I close my office door and start my working day at 7am. Sitting down for breakfast isn’t my thing. The most I manage is a couple of cups of green tea and a green smoothie courtesy of my Nutri Ninja. Fair to say it’s sometimes downhill after this.
I never used to be but these days I’m a real early bird and my golden hours really are between 7 and 9am.

9am – 11am: I break my day out into 30 minute windows and I’m a big believer in eating those big frogs first. Where possible, I never spend more than 30 minutes on any one task and anything on my to do list that takes less than 60 seconds is wrapped up in the first 10 minutes of my day. I use the first two hours for creative writing, campaign planning, strategy and anything else that requires more headspace. Generally this time is uninterrupted by emails and calls so I get a solid block of concentration. This morning I’m working on a blog for CEO networking group Vistage, which I work on with the PR Network team. 86 year old chair Ivan Goldberg has agreed to feature in a blog for the Guardian, talking about being a ‘professional listener’ and why he’s still working.

Next up I’m preparing for a call with a potential new client. Nothing too in-depth at this stage – it’s just a brief introduction. However first impressions count as a freelancer so it’s crucial you make it a good one. Background is crucial before the call. I take a quick look at the business; who owns them, have they carried out PR before, if so who with and how successful has it been, do we have any shared contacts on LinkedIn. Do they have an in-house PR team, data for PR, and do they have in-house analysts. If I’m working directly with a client and I don’t have the support of a full team these are all questions I need to ask. Call complete and I’m through to pitch – yippee!

11am: Today I’m working on a campaign for the Open University Business School (OUBS) launching their latest personal finance course for the under 18s. I work on this with The PR Network, it’s a great way to enjoy being part of a team on bigger accounts and still retain your independence as a freelancer. As it’s an agency of virtual PR consultants, The PR Network values your time and opinions and really lets you get on with it.

Midday: Today I’ve set up a feature with the BBC. They’re sending a TV crew to a school in Milton Keynes with the lovely Bobby Seagull, former University Challenge star, two OUBS spokespeople, the headmaster and ten students. So off I go to join them.
So far so good, we’re all in the room waiting for the film crew to arrive and then we get a call. “We’re running late but could you just work out a quick personal finance quiz with the students for filming?” “No problem at all!” I reply. No need to panic, we’ve got 20 minutes and we nail it.

Next we get a call from the Daily Mail – they need more personal finance tips from Bobby Seagull to support the feature I’ve been working on around the launch. Luckily, the film crew are setting up so we’ve got ten minutes to pull five more tips together. The lovely Bobby is on hand to help. The rest of the filming goes to plan.

1.30pm: By this point my little Border Terrier is ready to go crazy in the woods so off we go to burn off some steam. Living in the Chilterns we have some beautiful walks close by and it’s a great way to get away from my desk and clear my head.

3pm: My day takes on a different dynamic, it’s off to collect my daughter from school. This is really valuable time for me, it allows me to be involved in her life, meet her friends and their mums and talk to her teacher if there are any problems. This is one of the main reasons I chose to freelance.

4.30pm: Dinner’s over and I’m back online, wrapping up my day, making sure the BBC has everything they need and updating the client and The PR Network. Great news, they also want to run the story on Five Live – this day gets better and better!

7pm: I need to burn off some steam so I’m off to boot camp class. It’s outdoors and although it’s chilly I love it. Kettle bells, sand bags and soggy ropes – I feel like a new person when I get back.

It’s been a long hard day but I feel on top of the world, must be time to celebrate with a large glass of Malbec. Every girl needs her vices.
One of the many valuable things my business coach has taught me, when you work from home alone you must break your day up, take regular breaks and look after your own needs. I spent my first year sitting at my desk for 14 hours a day. It’s not helpful to anyone and you won’t do your best work.

I haven’t looked back since setting up PR by Northstar. I really get the best of all worlds. No two days are the same and the variety of projects, sectors and clients is key for my ‘creative’ profile.

Follow Tracy’s freelance life:

@prbynorthstar twitter
https://www.linkedin.com/in/tracydickerson/

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