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The hidden dangers of PR career talks

18/03/2013

Sam Howard lives to regret and for that at least she is grateful…

In its latest initiative to bridge the diversity gap, the CIPR is to go into secondary schools to explain what a career in PR entails. On the back of my work with The Taylor Bennett Foundation, and USC Annenberg, I’ll be looking to lend a hand. Odd how things turn out – given that my first ever careers’ talk was possibly a tad off message…

Admittedly the weekend before the gig, it did occur to me that possibly the standard company creds deck, designed to impress your most hard bitten city type, didn’t have quite the right content nor tone for a ten year old from an underprivileged, wildly diverse school in Neasden. But either I built a deck from scratch which would take a couple of days and I would never use it again, or I could just make it up as I went along, after all, what would they know? My talk was scheduled for Thursday.Although not entirely sure of my proffesion, my son’s primary school knew I rushed around a lot, shouted into my phone, and muttered darkly about jet lag. And so the headmistress made inquiries as to what it was that was so important, I had yet to attend a single cake sale. On discovering it was comms, she offered me a slot on careers’ week, saying it would, ‘make a nice change’. I love public speaking me, so penciled it in without a thought.

On Monday, Elliot was, buzzin’. A midwife had kept them enthralled with heart-warming tales of delivering babies, saving lives and what not. “How super!” I said, though this midwife person sounded like bit of a show off to me.On Tuesday, when I picked him up, he was equally full of it. The local policemen had visited with his dog, Blaze, who by all accounts was a magnificent beastie. “Hasn’t he got better things to do?” I miffed, as Elliot noted I was doing 35 in a 30 and that technically he should make a citizen’s arrest right there and then.

On Wednesday, a bloody bastard fireman rocked up.
“Perhaps I should bring in my awards,” I wondered out loud.
“He parked his fire engine in the playground,” said Elli cheerfully, “Let us climb all over it.”
“That’s cheating!” I howled in dismay.
My boy looked at me levelly. “Yep. You’re really up against it now Mum.”

Now, I know at this point, I could have built a deck that talked earnestly about reputation management and CSR. But people, my back was against the wall here and besides my kid was in the audience. That night I dug deep for inspiration and the shiny new deck, was unlike any other deck I have ever built before or after, and ready in the early hours of Thursday morning.

And so it was that I sashayed into that classroom dressed for a full on six-way City pitch. I cast a disdainful eye over my charges.

“So, I hear you’ve met a mid-wife, a policemen and a fireman already. Was it just great hearing about how all those clever, kind and brave people have dedicated their lives to helping others?” And they chorused that it was, it really really was.
“Well I can tell you now,” I said fixing them with a steely gaze.
“I don’t do anything like that at all.” An attentive hush seeped through the room.
“What I do, is a very, very TERRIBLE thing.” There was a collective intake of breath.
“You see,” I said archly as I span neatly on my highest heels and began to pace the room. “I work for the dark side.”

I had them.

“What I do is make MONEY – by helping other people make MONEY. Lots AND lots of it.” The headmistress actually seemed to be sliding down the wall, but the kids, they were on the edge of their seats…An adrenalin-fueled hour later, sharing a celebratory MacDonald’s with the boy, he passed his judgment.

“I liked the bit when you talked about trainers and celebrity endorsement and brand advocacy. Like, who knew there was no such thing as free will.” And he munched on his onion rings reflectively.Looking at me with a sly pride he pronounced, “You did good mum, you did good.”

Though strangely I was never invited back…


The second year – pining for external validation

03/02/2013

Major validations, minor tribulations and lessons learned – two years into Sam Howard’s career as an independent PR.

no more awards for you my girl think on

Smug moment: Ongoing clients have expanded their remits, project clients return for more projects, growth rates are healthy.
Dark muttering: So how come I haven’t won employee of the month? Been given a round of applause, a certificate, a mug or anything?
Note to self: Stop hankering for external validation. Ain’t ever gonna happen.

Smug moment: So stress levels are down, inner contentment levels are up my aura has never been so glowy – everyone says so.
Dark muttering: When you have a bad day they can be astoundingly bad, and the temptation to cry is immense – after all no one is watching. Usually it’s just a matter of keeping the faith,but it’s easier said than done.
Note to self: Just read the contract you stupid, stupid girl.

Smug moment: I’m getting to do more stuff with more people, getting back to a more integrated approach.
Dark muttering: Peer collaboration is all very well, but where’s a lovely, enthusiastic junior when you need one? Media monitoring – at my age.
Note to self: Get over yourself, it’s the same day rate.

Smug moment: Blog’s doing good.
Dark muttering: I’m a bit behind on sorting out my own brand. What brand you say? Quite. I abandon it as soon as client work comes in. Worse still, I keep changing my mind. I have so much more empathy now with past employers that could never ‘get their act together’, turns out neither can I.
Note to self: Use your project management skills, dummy.

Smug moment: I’ve enjoyed getting back to my roots, direction, content and outreach. I still get a huge high when I see client content getting picked up.
Dark muttering: Why did I think setting up on my own would get me away from the spreadsheets?
Note to self: There’s software out there to do this stuff, decide where your time is best spent, and spend it there.

Smug moment: So as a reward for going freelance, I got a rescue puppy. He’s a black lab, crossed with something, maybe a kangaroo. But our daily walks give me head space and I’ve dropped a dress size!
Dark muttering: I somewhat underestimated how wildly distracting would be the dogaroo’s ebullient puppy-hood and protracted adolescence – there were days… I’m telling ya…
Note to self: Don’t be tempted to spread yourself too thin. Even by a puppy.

Smug moment: I’ve rejected any pretense at standard working hours, standard dress, standard working practices – and it all works well for me.
Dark muttering: Ask any of my former bosses, I was always borderline employable. Are there rescue shelters for feral freelancers, offering warm and loving forever contracts, doing the filing in the basement for some kindly brand?
Note to self:  Better stick with the programme kid and as Fat Boy Slim might say:

‘We’ve come a long, long way together

Through the hard times and the good

We have to celebrate you, baby

We have to praise you like we should.’

‘Cos no one else is gonna do it for you.


Is it freelance for life or just ’til Christmas?

12/10/2012

Take Sam Howard’s festive freelance quiz to find out. Tot up how many of these apply to you:

1. If you spend longer than six minutes getting ready of a morning, you consider yourself to be ‘faffing’.

2. When it comes to the three minute lunch break, soup bowls seem an unnecessary middle man, and are no longer required.

3. It never occurred to you before, but now, instead of religiously visiting the salon every six weeks, cos you’re so worth it – every so often, you just yank your hair into a big ponytail and lop off the top bit with the bacon scissors.

4. Your City client asks for an 8.30am briefing and you have jet lag for the rest of the day.

5. You get a pair of sheepskin house boots to keep your tootsies warm all winter long, spending over a hundred quid on what are effectively a pair of uggly slippers.

6. When asked what are doing at the weekend you look at people blankly, then reply, ‘working’ I mean what else would you do?

7. Next bank holiday, instead of gallivanting off on a City break, you’re going to re-grout the kitchen tiles as they are looking really grubby – funny you never noticed that when you had a proper job and was out of the house for 60 hours a week.

8. Your City high heels haven’t seen daylight for six months and when you do eventually try them out, you now walk with less grace than a lad in a frock on a stag do.

9. You catch up with a City friend. She regales you with tales of ridiculous internal politics, bodacious power plays and incompetent bosses – but all you can contribute is that the dog ate your Amazon parcel this morning.

10. Dress down Friday has become dress up Friday as that’s the day you go to the supermarket.

If you scored:
5 or less: It’s too late for me, but you must save yourself, book in for a weekend spa retreat, a full make over and hire a personal shopper, so no one need ever know what happened here.
6 and more: Consider yourself utterly unemployable and welcome to our world – we are your people now.


Freelance! Glorious Freelance!

06/08/2012

Sam Howard looks at how to survive and thrive on the freelance diet…

Most freelancers say they took this path to have a better quality of life. Most ex-freelancers say they gave it up because the feast and famine aspect was completely counter intuitive to achieving the work life balance they craved.

Ergo to sustain independence you need a strategy for coping with the Cabbage Soup Diet one week and the All You Can Eat Buffet the next. Here’s mine:

Feast: I love the pace, the focus, and the fear of The Feast! But this year, instead of doing my impression of an overworked Scrat and chasing down every last acorn, as the work ramped up I pulled in fellow freelancer experts to do the bits that they do best, leaving me to what I do best. Net result – very happy clients (several experts for the price of one) and several happy experts instead of one, which karmicly is a good thing right? In the short term slightly less acorns for me, but by delivering really good work (i.e. better than I could manage on my own) hopefully we planted a few metaphorical oak trees for the long term.

Famine: So I could stay in bed, stare at the ceiling and wonder if I haven’t completely ruined my career… or, instead I could actually look forward to the downtime and line up a load of projects designed to get out of the office, rest the brain and exercise the brawn. You might of heard the whoop of joy as I slammed down the lid of my laptop on 15th May, 10.45am. Over the coming weeks I finally redecorated the bedroom after nine years of dreaming in bloody magnolia. Net result – I swapped eight hours a day for a twelve but achieved an almost zen like mental status and when the ‘real’ work kicked back in, both client side and the house-keeping I returned to it quite refreshed and with rather shapely upper arms.

Regular meals: I struggle when, to my mind, there is not enough ‘real’ work to lace the day with the Fear – so I don’t do it at all. Instead I sand down the kitchen worktops. After several days of this, yes the worktops are very shiny but the real work has insidiously mounted up. The Fear has a genuine reason to be there and I’m in a self-induced state of work bulimia.

Grazing seems beyond me.

But at least if ever I do feel tempted to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling and ponder the vagaries of freelance – I can also admire the paintwork.


What price freedom? Part III: When to offer a discount

08/07/2012

Third of three posts from Sam Howard on the commercials of freelancing: How not to give away your work as a PR freelancer: 

The last two posts, looked at how to calculate your base rate ( how much do you need to charge to survive) and your ceiling rate, (what the market will bear).

Hopefully the first calculation is lower than the second one, if not please stop reading this now and use this time to send out your resume. You’re are not going to be able to make it work as a freelancer.This post briefly covers what factors to consider when contemplating discounting your work.

Reasonable reasons to discount                                                

  • Do you know the client? Sounds obvious but if you know them already, then proving you’re the right person for the job, aka pitching and then over-servicing, shouldn’t take too long as your immaculate reputation will proceed you. So the time you save in not going OTT in the early months can be passed on in a discounted rate for the same period. (not indefinitely)
  • Do you know and like the client? By that I mean do you know that they are really easy to work with? That your judgement is valued, that the client will take risks, that emails can be six words long (and four of those spelled incorrectly), that decisions are made in real-time and it’s OK to vent rather than labouring over such a delicately worded email you might as well have crocheted it. (This is my idea of a perfect client, I concede you may have a different set of selection criteria.) If you have a perfect client, then treasure them, working with them is a pleasure and you’re rate should reflect that.
  • Is it something that will help you grow? OK so moving into an adjacent sector, expanding your skill set, working with a client that you can learn much from, these are all reasons to invest in your portfolio and discount.( again just for a while say six months while you ‘come up to speed’).

Just double check the sum total of all these discounts isn’t lower than your basement rate and for every client you take on that skims or even dips below that rate you need to take one with a higher yield, remember this always has to be win/win.

Rubbish reasons to discount:

  • You’re really broke: So you’re staring at your laptop, willing for that one email to arrive, that will put a smile on your face and some cash into your account. But when it comes, (and it will) think carefully about pricing. It’s so tempting to come in really low, ‘cos you’re desperate. But what does it say about the value of your work? As scary as it is, put in the right price, that reflects the skill and effort involved to do a great job. Yes, you may end up negotiating down, but no one ever gets to negotiate up.
  • They’re really broke: Whether they’re those sparkly eyed start-ups or family friends, those customers that really, really want to work with you, but have no money… FYI they’re not customers, they’re window shoppers. So move them along and find someone to work with that can treat you with the respect you’ve earned. And with the money generated from real work for real customers you can afford to buy the sparkly eyed start-up or the family friend a pint – or three if they really do need your support.
  • Discounted trial projects: Not convinced myself. You need to be hanging out with people that know how to be professional in business, after all you have to represent them. If they come across as timid amateurs to you then that’s how thy are going to come across to press.

Doing it for free

I hate working on the cheap, feeling like someone has got something over on me, de-valued my contribution – but I love working for free. One of the best bits about working for yourself, is being able to contribute your skills and expertise to a cause you believe in and make a small difference in the world. Maybe it’s providing your professional services to a cause, or painting fences or washing out kennels. But if you’ve managed your finances and time sensibly, then you can afford to give it away and come home with your pockets full of physic income and your conscience having had a spa day.Image courtesy of wallpaper.com


What price freedom? Part II Finding your ‘ceiling’ rate

06/05/2012

Second of three posts from Sam Howard on the commercials of freelancing: Following on from my last post, which looked at how to calculate your bottom line day rate as a freelancer, this one looks at the ceiling day rate.

My child’s first bake sale, he was about seven and asked to make scones.

“How much are you selling them for?” I asked dispensing with the niceties.He hadn’t given it much thought, but guessed 10p each.

“Why?” I asked. He didn’t know.I told him to think harder. “OK cost of ingredients,” he said.

So how does that help the charity you are making them for? “OK cost plus 10p,” he said and so we discovered the concept of profit.

“So what about packaging and wastage?” So we got up to 30p. And he hoped that might be the end of it.

“But then,” I said triumphantly, “have you thought of what the market will bear?” He looked pretty annoyed at this point. “No”, he said, he had not.

Part 2 What the market will bear

 

So I explained what people paid for a scone in a nice tea shop at one end of the scale and how much you paid for a pack of scones in a low-end supermarket. We decided that if ours were fresh baked and prettily presented with a winning toothy smile, we might be able push that up to 50p a scone. It was a pretty successful bake sale by all accounts…

So what will the market bear for your services, given that you are not baking muffins, all proceeds are not going to charity, and that you’re probably not as cute as the average seven year old salesperson?

Local rate

First stop, so what are local freelancers charging? Here’s a jan 2010 survery that I found that might be helpful, and this on a freelance website, but I’m not sure how fresh it is. Do they compare to you and your skills? Make sure these are valid, long term freelancers/independents. It’s a competitive market out there, but if people are offering to work for ‘silly money’ like you see on the bid sites, are you really going to compete with them, what are you competing for? To see who can go bust first?

Agency equivalent

You need to understand what local agencies are charging. if you’re former agency this is a no brainer. If you’re not, then you need to do some research to try and understand where you map on to the agency hierarchy, don’t go on your old salary (probably higher) but more on your experience and responsibilities, here’s a very very rough guide:

  • 1 -3 years PR experience – account exec: Support role – admin, research, supervised outreach, supervised content creation, no direct reports ( not sure this is a good time to go freelance myself unless you have very low out goings), reports to account manager.
  • 3 – 6 years PR experience – account manager: Implementation role, heads up tactics, main outreach person, day to day client go to person, directly manages juniors, reports to account director. Possibly knows the account better than anyone else.
  • 6 – 8 years PR experience – account director, lead role, heads up strategy, leads client relationships, oversees budgeting, heavily involved in pitching, manages account managers, reports to group account director/director. Tasked with making money.
  • 8+ years PR experience – group account director, senior account director etc – same as above but entrusted with more clients, more accounts, bigger budgets, bigger teams, and some development initiatives, reports to director.
  • 10+ years of experience – director, running division, sits on key strategic accounts, leads new business drives, develops new services/territories, leads team, responsible for financial health of division, runs P&L, reports to CEO. Tasked with making profit.

Once you can map your role to an agency hierarchy, find out the local day rates for this role. Then to my mind you don’t just round your rate down, but you slash it. You don’t have the group expertise or the combined reach of an agency, also you don’t have the overheads. I tend to charge under half as this makes me viable for agency work too.

The bitter pill
Now you compare your market research to your notional day rate If your notional day rate tops the market rates, you have a problem. Really why is any one going to hire you in this climate if they can tap into the same services and expertise elsewhere for less? And if you take on a loss leader project, there is only one of you, while you’re not making enough money, there is no one else to make any money at all. Every day you work at the ‘wrong rate’ only puts even more pressure on the other days to over price. You need to think long and hard about how you are going to make this work. Possibly this is not the right time in your career to go freelance, mayber you need more skills/experience, so you can charge a stronger day rate or you need to wait until there is a time in your life when you don’t need to earn quite so much (eg the mortgage isn’t making your eyes water, the kids day care bills aren’t making you wish you’d got a dog instead.).

The sweet spot
The sweet spot for a freelancer is having a low cost base and a high/in demand skills base. If your notional day rate is at the low end of the market rate scale, you’re looking at win/win, you can round up your notional rate, still be extremely competitive and know you are going to be earning enough to be able to sustain the freelance life over the longer term. Who knows perhaps you can develop a side line in home-baked goods too…

Next blog looks at the variables that allow you to tweak the day rate.


What price freedom? Part I How to find your ‘base’ rate

25/04/2012

First of three posts from Sam Howard on the commercials of freelancing:

If you are good with words, I’ve noticed, sooner or later you need to get good with maths.The first of three posts looking at how to price up your freelance comms work.

A recent survey in PRmoment, showed that most freelancers charge between £200 and £500 a day. So where might you fit in? The next few blogs  share my ideas on how you decide what to charge. Hopefully useful if you are considering becoming a freelance PR, starting out, or just sense your business model might be a bit broke.

Part one – calculating a notional day rate,                                            AKA what do you need to charge to survive?

Step 1) What do you need to earn?

Did you really go freelance to become rich? Really? Most people I know have gone freelance to take back control of their lives, to be able to make their own decisions, to be there for their families and generally to feel like they are living a more balanced and healthier life. And in that sense we are all very successful, though none of us ‘rich’. So when you are working out what you need to earn, if you really want to be a freelancer, I doubt if it’s anything like what you used to earn. Do a monthly budget of what you can cope with, (you’ll be surprised freelance currency goes along way).
This gives you your base line figure of what you need to clear after tax. For easy maths’ sake lets say that’s a £1,500 a month so £18,000 a year. So how does that convert to a day rate?

Step 2) How many days in the year do you have to earn it?Answer: it’s not 365,

Though this is where you start.
Days in the year 365
Less main public holidays 5
Less weekends 104 (don’t actually schedule to work weekends)
Less holidays/family/emergency days 25
Less sick/jet lag/ hangover days 12 ( just being realistic)
Days available to work 220 ( standard industry figure)

Now assume that 50% of that time you are not doing client work, either because there just isn’t any, or because you are working but not being ‘paid’ for it, eg admin, networking, training, research, marketing, pitching, preparing materials etc. That leaves 110 days to cover your budget, plus tax plus expenses.

Step 3) Not all that money is yours you know.Tax and expenses.

So sticking with our notional sum of £18,000 a year,

Plus expenses say 15% £2,700 ( if you are working from home, can easily be more if you are not),

Plus tax, say 25% £4,500.

So in theory you need to earn around £25,200, to give you £18,000 and meet that £1,500 budget.Step 4) Calculating the notional day rateSo now just look at how much you need in total, and divide it by client days. In our model that’s
£25,200 /110 days = £229/day notional day rate.

Next blog: how does that compare to what the market will bear? Favourably we hope. After that, take a look at when to discount your work so that you find that sweet spot that keeps your clients happy and your finances healthy.


The first year – the luxury of hindsight

23/02/2012

After 17 years of having a ‘proper’ PR job, Sam Howard takes a moment to reflect on her first year as a freelancer.

what care we for fine reception areas check out the new office rug!

So I took the leap of freelance faith one year ago now. I started with just one contract (that’s all you need) and an old laptop (such a bad idea). A year later and I’m busy and increasingly teaming up with industry mates to deliver on a wider brief.

And I’m know I shouldn’t boast but also the proud owner of:

  • A shiny new laptop (bought in great distress):
  • A comfortable office chair (couldn’t actually stand after that first month perched on rustic dining room chair);
  • An all-singing all-dancing printer (I tried a basic one, but running to the shop to pay 10p for photocopy soon lost its appeal);
  • A fan heater (essential);
  • A dog (absolutely not essential and quite possibly a really bad idea but I’m sticking with it.)

I’ve celebrated making it to Year One with a new office rug and several cocktail parties for those who have looked after me most. (“Mind the rug!”). Forgive this nostalgic moment while I reflect on the year gone by…

What was the best revelation?

That I would enjoy it quite so much, even the dodgy days are somewhat thrilling. I love the diversity of work and the random twists opportunities offer. Despite my commercial brain, I don’t seem to be overly obsessed with making a fortune (handy). Just doing good work and getting paid well enough for it, works fine for me.

What was a complete let down?

My misperception that if I didn’t have any paid work I’d be just working on my tan. If you don’t have paid work, you feel somewhat obliged to look for it, and even if it’s already on the horizon, then you still labour over laptop every day staying on top of admin marketing accounts etc. A year in, and Loose Women still remains a mystery to me. Damn that work ethic. And it turns out I hate doing my own PR. I ordered some business cards off the internet and I do enjoy writing this occasional blog, as long as I don’t have to pitch myself as a ‘thought leader’, but beyond that, turns out I’m not very interested – which I think, given my training, is a bit rubbish.Is there

Anything you miss about your old life?

Well I’m not lonely which I was a bit worried about, but I walk the dog every morning so usually bump into someone to chat to, and then I shout at self-same dog quite a lot all day which keeps the volume up. As predicted, it’s the IT department that I miss. The combination of having a giant house rabbit that’s addicted to power cables and my own complete inability to do anything other than cry when the black blinky screen shows, means, I’ve truly and repeatedly suffered.

If it’s so great do you wish you’d done it sooner?

Erm maybe, not sure. If I’d gone solo earlier in my career I’m not convinced I would really have known what I was doing, ten years in a busy agency means you are learning every day and I’m really glad I have that experience. Without it I think I would have been just too freaked to enjoy this solo life. As it is, my instincts are nicely honed and the advice I give has usually been proven.

So what’s next?

Well no plans for global domination or any more pets (there’s more of them than us now). But perhaps I should go on a dating site just to spice things up a little. Place an ad that might read:

“Mostly chirpy freelancer, smelling slightly of wet dog, would occasionally like to meet IT Geek with too much time on his hands and an endless supply of cables for emergency assistance and fun times (deadline dependent).”

Huge thanks to my early adopter clients who were kind enough to hire me, pay me and refer me. And to my gorgeous friends who have looked after me this just-a-bit-scary, year. My round this next time.


In the world of freelance, is it wrong?

24/01/2012

#Is it wrong? Sam Howard shares her frelance ethical ponderings:

shh please don’t wake him…

1. Just in case he’s the only person you’re going to get to talk to all day, is it wrong to launch in with your most perplexing business issues, work fears, and brilliant new ideas while your 11 year munches on his morning porridge and does up his shoe laces?

2. To wear leg warmers and fingerless gloves indoors?

3. To pretend the web camera on your Skype call isn’t working when in truth it’s cos you look like shit and The Bloody Dog is jumping around in the background, trying to bury his Kong toy in the sofa?

4. To have full blown conversations with the rabbit, cat and dog in an effort to recreate those water cooler moments?

5. To have the fan heater and the central heating on at the same time?

6. To stuff dog treats in your brand new £40 sheepskin slippers, that were a Christmas present from your lovely mum, in an effort to keep The Bloody Dog amused for ten minutes, so you can reach your copy-writing deadline?

7. To eat your soup straight out of the pan and then give the carton and the pan to The Bloody Dog to keep him quiet for another five minutes?

8. To hang up on a conference call because you’ve just spotted The Bloody Dog has got the rabbit’s head in his mouth?

9. To top up your afternoon coffee with a large dose of Tia Maria? And then put its purchase against your tax expenses as ‘office beverages’?

10. To open the door to your child as he comes home from school, starving hungry, freezing cold and soaked through, with the greeting:
“Can you PLEASE take The Bloody Dog out! I have had him all day and he’s driving me frickin crazy. GO! NOW! GO!”


a day in the life of a PR freelancer

16/11/2011

So what’s it like being a PR freelancer?  Six months into freelancing Sam Howard on what a calm day looks like (the frenetic days you don’t want to dwell on):

 So you guys with proper jobs have
an expense account, gym membership,
private healthcare oh and a salary…
but I have a dog, and his name is Moby.

7.15am: Alarm goes off, this is really annoying as now I’m my own boss I’m sure I shouldn’t have to get up while it’s virtually dark, it says so in the small print somewhere.

8.00am: Lasso the new pup and accompany my son to the bus stop, and then  walk our new lab/mastiff puppy, a much longed for addition to the family. He is 18 weeks old and my reward for going solo, my bonus if you like.

10:00am: Team commute to office.

10:01am: Team settles in for the day: I fire up my shiny new laptop, (last one died without warning, great week that was) cat settles on desk, giant rabbit flops by french window, new pup flakes out on sofa. Drink coffee, review mails. The days of 200-plus mails every morning are thankfully no more.There’s a mail from a head hunter, ‘do I want to go permanent in a super high-profile new role?’ No thank you. Another mail from a journo friend, ‘would I like to do some PR consultancy for a small tech company he’s just met?’ Yes please. Check out Facebook, Twitter and my LinkedIn groups.

11:00am: Start with some essential admin, this takes easily an hour a day. Enter my receipts and raise a modest invoice. This still makes me ridiculously proud, as if I baked it myself or something.

11.30am: Okay, so now the day is free for actual work. What luxury! When I was agency side, in the end, I was lucky if I could find 20 minutes to sit still and ‘do’ anything at all. I enjoy being able to focus, turns out I am a starter finisher, who knew? This morning I write some client content. I like writing  good job too there is alot of it when you go freelance. Then spend some time  preparing a workshop I’m giving at the Taylor Bennett Foundation, tomorrow. After all if your time is your own, it’s quite nice to give some of it away I think.

1.30pm: Boy do I miss Pret, Itsu, Eat, Tossed. Stand by the fridge and finish last night’s leftovers, then take the pup out, he chases leaves, I laugh.

2.10pm: Spend afternoon reaching out to contacts in search of internship opportunities for my USC Annenberg post grad students. I love working with my Californian crew, hopefully I’m teaching them the gentle art of self deprecation while they’re teaching me to be nice – won’t kill me will it?

5.20pm: Welcome my son home. I had to return to full time work when he was only tiny, now he is 11 and this is the first time that I can open the door to him pretty much every day. The novelty has yet to wear off. Manage to fix my printer after a week of glaring at it, feel really rather smug.

6.30pm: Shut down office but brain is still ticking, it’s hard to switch off just like that, so take pup for a quick stroll, he rolls on the grass and i have to drag him on his back for 50 yards.

7.00pm: Hit the kitchen and prepare something gorgeous. Tonight we’re having smoked haddock on puy lentils with hollandaise and an apple crumble. Not bad for a school night.

This article first appeared in PRMoment http://www.prmoment.com/.