I had the privilege of providing a guest lecture to students at Cardiff University this week. It was my chance to talk about why working in crisis communication is so rewarding. This work is not everyone’s cup of tea but it is something I am passionate about and that is what is the most important thing. Doing something you are passionate about drives me to do more and to improve. I am very lucky to be in this position but also comes after some challenges and hard work.
Setting up a consultancy and running my own business is something that I have wanted to do for quite a few years. Stepping into the new role after many decades as an employee was a significant change and was a risk. Looking back 18 months to when I started this new life I remember being excited and fearful in equal amounts. The diary looked empty and while I had lots of ideas in my head of what I wanted to do I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to make them happen.
In the past few months I have spoken to many people who are keen to try being their own boss, going freelance, becoming a consultant or setting up their own business. Where I can I try to share my experiences of what worked and what I would have done differently. I also share some of the amazing advice that I was given by others who had set out on this path many years ago. All this centres around one thing and that is you as a freelance communication professional. I know that whether I succeed for fail, whether I win or lose, whether I grow stronger or weaker is all under my control.
The mindset I have is the thing that makes the difference. Even though I don’t always feel like a very confident person I am determined. When a business coach asked me what my backup plan was if this business didn’t succeed I said I didn’t have one because it was going to work. I said the same thing many years ago to a careers advisor at school who asked what my backup plan was if I didn’t achieve my dream of becoming a journalist. I hold on to the dream I have and the road, long or short to make it happen. I have come to realise I can only control what is within me.
When I was given the opportunity of talking to a journalist and to give my thoughts on the crisis communication response from Yorkshire County Cricket Club I hesitated before I said yes. I hesitated because it was outside of my comfort zone. I hate listening to myself talk and I hate even more seeing myself on camera. For me PR people should be behind the camera. But I took the opportunity in the hope that I could raise some important points that may help other organisations. Did I want to highlight it to other people? No. But my business coach gave me many reasons why it was important I did. I was nervous and afraid of making a mess of it. I leave it for others to decide whether that happened or not.
For anyone considering stepping out of the work they have been doing, setting up a business, or doing something different I would say embrace the fear, the worry and the concerns. But make sure you are passionate about what you are doing and you have a determination to succeed. It is these two things that will carry you through when times are tough, things don’t go the way you want them to, or you question yourself.