Cleveland Business Connects

The June Amplify luncheon, held June 28 at Windows on the River, featured remarks...

IPG connects Self-employed PR Pros

By Lauren Sable Freiman | Photo by Jim Baron

Being self-employed certainly has many advantages. But camaraderie and the opportunity to bounce ideas around the office typically aren’t among those advantages. That’s where the Independent Practitioners Group steps in to fill a very real void.

A support group for self-employed public relations and marketing professionals, IPG started as a subgroup of the local chapter of the Public Relations Society of America in 1990. In 2001 the group broke off to become an independent networking group, focused on addressing the unique needs of those who work independently. 

“There is a certain amount of isolation you deal with when you are self-employed, and this is one avenue to get out and mix and mingle with peers,” Jim Tabaczynski, IPGs co-chair and president of JPT Group, says.

Almost 80 percent of the group’s 15-20 paid members are female and have been working in the industry for an average of eight years. Most members work from home but not all. Montrie Rucker Adams, IPGs co-chair and treasurer, houses her business, Visibility Marketing Inc. in an office outside of her home. 

“There is a great camaraderie among members. There are a lot of emails going back and forth where people ask who knows about this or who can help me with that,” she says. 

IPG hosts monthly lunch meetings from September through May at restaurants around the city. The format varies between professional development and open roundtables, and the content is driven by member wants and needs. A roundtable discussion where members shared their favorite apps was a big hit among members, Tabaczynski says. 

As the public relations and marketing industry is dynamic and ever changing, members are especially interested in programs on things like pay-per-click advertising and mobile apps, which provide them with new ways of reaching people. 

“We always ask our members what they want,” Tabaczynski says. “The best way to find new programs is to listen to your members.” 

According to Rucker Adams, IPG has hosted conferences in the past, including one on social media. As a small networking group, IPG is also open to partnering with other networking organizations to co-sponsor programs. One such program was a meet and greet with tech writers from Crain’s Cleveland Business and The Plain Dealer, which IPG co-hosted with the Northeast Ohio Software Association. 

“Our members always enjoy meeting with the media. It is a program that seems to resonate the most with people,” Tabaczynski says. “What we usually tell the media is that we want to learn how to work with you better and we want you to be able to work with us better. We ask what types of stories they are looking for, what they aren’t looking for, and what they consider to be their geographic footprint.” 

Though some members have similar businesses and are competitors, Rucker Adams says that, nonetheless, IPG members serve as a strong support system to other members.

“We are very big on passing information, and there are many opportunities to gain clients as well,” she says. “There is always an opportunity to get a new perspective. The more varied voices you have, the more opportunity you have to learn.”   

For more information: IPGCleveland.org

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