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How I set up my own PR company in my 20s

Hope Mckellar is the director of Hope Mckellar PR based in Portsmouth.  

I’d always wanted to work for myself, but it had always been an ‘eventually’ thing. I always felt like I was too inexperienced or that people wouldn’t take me seriously because I’m only 23. Imposter syndrome always took over.

I never knew exactly what I wanted to do in life, either, I just knew I wanted to work in the media in some way.

Working for a newspaper

I’ve lived in Portsmouth my whole life. I went to school just outside of Portsmouth, went to college in Portsmouth and went on to study at the University of Portsmouth.

I then went on to work for Portsmouth’s local newspaper, The News as the business editor – a job I sort of fell into after doing some work experience there alongside my studies.

Read more: How I started my PR agency

It was only a temporary maternity cover contract and to be honest, the thought of writing about business bored me. I was more interested in music or fashion or beauty like any other young journalism student.

But being offered this job before I had even graduated seemed like a dream come true – and gave me bragging rights among my coursemates – so it goes without saying that I jumped at the chance.

I was chucked in at the deep end as the person I was covering and I passed like ships in the night, with just a day of training before my first ‘proper’ day on the job. It was challenging at first and I made so many mistakes in my first few months, but it really allowed me to grow and find my feet.

Setting up on my PR company

Fast forward just under a year and a global pandemic had just hit, I was about to lose my job and I had no idea what to do. Panic set in, so I did what any good professional would do and turned to LinkedIn, basically begging people to give me a job.

Within a few hours, I had a call from someone who runs a media company, who opened the call with “I’m not going to give you a job, but…” and proceeded to tell me that I need to set up on my own and go freelance, offering public relations and communications services privately. At this point, something clicked in my mind and the spontaneous side of me just said “ok!”.

I realised that I didn’t hate writing about business as much as I thought I would. In fact, I loved it. So I decided I would continue doing what I love and helping businesses while being my own boss and working for myself.

Over the next few weeks, I started sending messages round to business owners asking if they needed help with their PR, set up a website and social media channels and tried to make people take me seriously.

Combatting imposter syndrome

My PR company is based around helping businesses gain publicity and ultimately grow. I help them get publicity through press releases and copywriting and they reap the benefits. Launching a business is something I’d recommend to anyone who is willing to take the leap and put in the work.

And as for imposter syndrome, I’ve learnt that it’s a good thing because it tells you that you’re doing something big and exciting and out of your comfort zone – and on the edge of our comfort zones is where we experience the most growth.

It is so exciting knowing that I’m completely in control of what I’m doing and my potential is uncapped. That’s the freedom that being self-employed gives you.

To find out more about Hope Mckellar PR, visit:

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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