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Onboarding Explained: How to Onboard a Freelance PR, the Dos and Don'ts for a Winning Kick Off

Eight examples when it comes to kicking off, backed up by experiences from real PR people.

You're at the point now when you've been matched on Nibble from our specialist database, chosen your freelance PR, and it's time to start working together. But how?

Well, instead of leaving them to ‘just get on with it’ a better approach is to dedicate some time to ‘onboarding’ them - i.e. setting them up for the best success, like you would with a new recruit or your own client. 

To guide you through this part of the process, here are five dos and five don'ts when it comes to onboarding, backed up by real experiences from PRs. 

Do - make them part of your team. They are not an outsider. This starts with introducing them to everyone and welcoming them internally.

"The first day I started in one freelance role, the client called me into the office for a meeting and took me around to each staff member and introduced me. I felt so included, had met everyone I ended up speaking with throughout the project and it was just a wonderful way to begin working with them." - Sarah T.

Don't - keep them out of the loop. The only way your freelancer can do their job in the best way is to know what's going on with access to the timeline, documents and people needed.

"It happens often actually. You're working up a great idea for a campaign, you get 75% of the way there and then the client forgot to tell you there's a delay to the launch. So you put in all this hard work and they could have revealed that much earlier which would have meant you could have also utilised time better, paused certain things to avoid doubling up on tasks again later." - Kira G.

Do - speak about your values. A key part of onboarding is for the freelancer to understand you from top to bottom. Explain your thinking, your objectives, your mission - what makes it all tick.

"I love the sort of client who is passionate about their company, product or service. I like to spend time really getting under the skin of all that and know the WHY about everything. I've come up with the most killer ideas and strategies when my client took the time up front with me to learn everything about the brand’s DNA." - Luke M.

Don't - stop talking after day one. Communication is key, and how you coordinate, collaborate and check-in with your freelance PR is essential to outline from the very beginning.

"We all have busy schedules, but I can't overestimate just how useful it is to know you have regular calls with your client in their diary, so you can update them, get feedback and just have a friendly chat about what's going on with the work." - Laura E.

Do - use an NDA. If your freelancer has access to confidential and sensitive information, they should sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement to protect you and your business in case of issues.

"I am always happy to sign an NDA, it comes with the territory. It's great to have this as soon as the client has chosen to work with you as this gives me time to read it and check it over." - Louise S.

Don’t - make them have to ask for everything. Your freelancer is going to need background info, content and assets. Create a welcome kit. This could be a simple document with all that the freelance PR needs to know about the company, tone of voice, existing key messages and branding, or a shared folder with all the assets and documents they could ever need. 

"You can't beat starting working for a client who gets you off on the right foot from day one. Preparation and research is such a huge part of successful PR campaigns and so the more relevant information I can read and digest at the start, the better. Also, once the media relations gets going the last thing I need are delays asking for this photo or that stat, having everything to hand means I can react to media ASAP which helps to land the coverage." - Ben B.

Do - listen to their feedback. Yes, you know your business inside out but the freelancer knows what ideas or executions work to gain media coverage and boost reputation. Hear them out.

"There's nothing worse than when a client chooses me for my skills, but then ignores everything I tell them and wants to push me into doing something I know won’t fly. Like using an old, outdated set of images when I advised shooting new ones. Being resistant to change or new ideas can get in the way of success, which is on me at the end of the day." - Craig H.

Don't - rush the onboarding. Or worse, just not bother doing anything at all. If you want this relationship to work, then this process could take up to a month to get everything in place.

"We all want our clients to be happy. And that happiness comes with a great beginning to any project. When I see they want me to take time to understand them, and crucially, they also want to take time to understand how I work, then everything usually goes well." - Jen W.

For more insight on the process of hiring a PR freelancer from start to finish, read Charles' story.

Ready for some top-notch PR? Match with highly recommended freelance PRs who’ve got a track record for knocking it out the park. Get started here.

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