Neha: From zero salary to opening her own PR firm

Neha, who hails from Delhi broke a lot of taboos to reach where she is today. Coming from a business family, she was the first one to join the service sector. From not getting paid a salary to being asked to leave, and now opening her own PR firm, Neha’s resolve only got stronger. Its the result of this strong resolve that she has reached this place today.

Read her inspiring story in this blog:

freelance pr professional

Tell us about yourself? Where are you from? About your family, parents? How was your childhood?

I was born and brought up in New Delhi. Coming from a business family, I had an urge to break the taboo of being a girl working in the service sector. Throughout the whole journey my family supported me. 

Tell us about your educational background? Was PR your first choice of profession? Why did you choose PR as a profession?

The sky really fascinates me, I always wanted to be an aeronautical engineer. I had some other career options on my plate including economics and the glamorous world of advertising also attracted me. However, things don’t always workout the way you have planned them. Sometimes, going with plan B is the best option. 

I chose to study Economics during my graduation and decided to pursue post graduation in Communications, both from Delhi university. I worked as an intern and a trainee in PR agencies during the initial stage of my career. 

The field of PR is vast; what really opened up the path for me was getting to speak to unknown people, and getting the advantage of networking. Having PR as a profession is lucrative, but you enter an industry that is challenging and constantly demands innovation. This sector is on the top of the game because of its inclusivity of a wide range from traditional PR to having the flexibility of digitizing in the modern age. 

You had a very roller coaster ride in your career. Walk us through it.

I started working at a young age. While studying, I simultaneously did an internship and attended a training towards the end. 

It was essential for me to get a job post completion of my studies. My first earning was a stipend of INR 2000/- per month. In my working period,  I even worked in a few agencies where they did not pay me due to failure of receiving payments from their clients. I have had the opportunity to work with some well known companies. However, I had to leave due to the presence of work-culture problems there. 

The light at the end of the tunnel for me was freelancing. What kept me going was the trust clients had in me. It helped in eventually lending me more projects through referrals

When did you start freelancing? How did it happen? Was it planned?

Around 6-7 years ago, I took the decision to work as a freelancer.  The opportunity knocked when I was handling finance and healthcare beat, and one of my journalist friends gave me an idea to do some extra work. As the journalist was associated with the finance beat, this progression happened naturally. I have learned a lot during my freelancing phase. 

Freelancing has changed me as a person. Over the years, I have evolved as a person into a more refined self. I see a better version of myself; someone who is more composed and a lot calmer. Along with other benefits, freelance exposes you to a diverse range of projects, this characteristic of freelancing made me understand the intricacies of various domains. It pushes you to be more open to different opportunities, to move out of your comfort zone, and uncover the unidentified potential in you. 

When did you think you can move into freelancing for full time?

This idea pops up in my mind almost every year. There are times when I have comparatively less number of clients. My main concern is facing the challenging part of getting more clients, while multitasking with being able to pay my bills and fulfilling other responsibilities. Moving into freelancing for full time was a difficult decision for me. 

In this lockdown phase, finally I am beginning with my entrepreneurial journey. The credit goes to the men in my life, for being my strength and pushing me through, so that I gain the courage to take this step.  

All this while you were doing so many things and this is not the general path children in India take, how was the support from your family?

I admit that not everything was rosy during the journey, it really wasn’t an easy ride. However, my family always stood with me like a solid rock. They have always had my back. As mentioned previously, the need to break the taboo of girls not working was only accomplished because of the strength that I gained from my family. They have supported me to a great extent and I could not be more grateful.

freelance PR professional

What according to you is the best or worst thing about freelancing?

One has to face many challenges during their freelancing journey,  the major one is witnessing the irregularity in receiving payments. Another difficult part is the business development aspect, sometimes getting more leads becomes a daunting task.

What is the one thing you hate about clients? What can they do to make your life better?

That’s trivial. There are a lot of aspects about clients in general that I’d like to disregard. The highlight is that they need to know and understand the workings of the industry. The lack of knowledge in the client of how the area of PR works, at times makes it difficult to work with them, as they raise false expectations. For example, some clients ask about a certain exclusivity of a portal for them or they’d say that I only want to be covered in only a particular newspaper or that I need one coverage every month.

What is your best work till date? Why do you think it is the best?

I have been blessed to experience many eureka moments in my career span. I believe that every client has taught me something or the other. Whether it is getting a late-night text from a client saying, “Hey! There has been a spike in the sales of my book”, or working for clients like ‘DailyNinja’ who were on per coverage and then moved to retainer basis, now acquired by BigBasket. I take pride in being their partner through this.

As you look back, do you feel satisfied with yourself or do you think you missed something?

As I reflect on my journey, I am candid and happy on seeing where I am today. I realize that I have surely taken wrong decisions in the past, but they have helped me shape into who I am today. I have learnt the lesson of being careful in not repeating my mistakes anymore. I await every day, as a new day brings fresh energy and comes with a different set of challenges.

I am beginning this new journey, with the aim of keeping in mind the learnings from my past journey. I believe that I am heading towards the right direction for the future. 

Neha can be reached on Refrens, LinkedIn,Twitter and Facebook.

By the way, are you skeptical of asking for a price raise as a freelancer? Why don’t you read this blog and remove your apprehensions.