Breaking Free: Starting and Running a Solo PR Business

Invite Tim to Speak

Let’s say you’ve been laid off, or you’re experiencing burnout at your current job. Maybe work-life balance is a major challenge. Is it getting tougher every day to handle that toxic boss or work environment? Or, maybe you’ve wanted to start your own business for a long time. Maybe it’s time to explore your options.

Tim O’Brien has owned and operated his own solo PR consultancy for the past 16 years. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) tapped Tim in 2014 to launch a special column in PRSA’s monthly publication (PR Tactics) dedicated to the field’s growing solo consultant sector. And in 2017, PRSA’s national Independent Practitioner Alliance recognized Tim’s contributions to the field with its first “Indie Award.”

In this program, Tim will talk about the common factors that help people make the decision to start their own solo practice. He’ll also explore the pros and cons of making the decision, and why going solo may not be right for everyone. This program is designed to help audience members understand what’s involved with starting and running their own solo PR practice.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn why some people start their own solo practices and why others wait
  • Identify the major action steps you need to make before you launch your own solo practice
  • Explore the five things you need to do in those first six months
  • Discover the best way to give your solo practice a chance to survive and thrive for the long term


Tim O’Brien is an accredited communications strategist and consultant, advising clients from Fortune 100 companies to associations, start-ups and nonprofits. He’s a 30-plus year communications veteran.

He formed O’Brien Communications in 2001, a Pittsburgh PR firm, after serving as Communications Director and the Chief Investor Relations Officer a telecom company. Before that, Tim was a Vice President at a global PR firm, where he was a leader in its crisis communications practice area.

In 2017, listed his firm as one of the 14 “Best PR Firms in Pittsburgh,” and later in the year, the national PRSA’s Independent Practitioner Alliance named Tim the recipient of its first “Indie Award,” which recognizes outstanding leadership and contributions to the nation’s independent practitioner community in the public relations field.

He is a frequent author of columns and articles in public relations, communications and business publications. He has presented at professional and trade functions, including the American Bar Association’s Continuing Legal Education programs, and at graduate and undergraduate programs at institutions including: Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania State University, Chatham University and at other colleges and universities.

He contributed to the PR News Crisis Management Guidebook, the PR News Employee Communications Guidebook, and he was featured in Harvard Business School Press’s The Essentials of Corporate Communications and Public Relations. His work has been recognized in several competitions, including the PRSA Renaissance Awards, the Association of Business Communicators and the Dalton Pen Communications Award Program for Excellence in Annual Reports, the NFPW Communications Awards, the International Academy of the Visual Arts’ Communicator Awards, and the Pennsylvania Press Club.

Categories: PR; solo gig; solopreneurship; independent PR practitioner; PR freelancing.

Contact Tim @ 412.854.8845 or just click here.