Welcome back to our series This Is How I Get It DONE, where we take moment to interview member of the PR In Canada community to find out more about the person behind the desk, how they got their start, their current role (and everything in between). For our second episode we talked to Chris Freimond.
Current Gig: Owner, Chris Freimond Public Relations Inc. Using words like pieces of a jig-saw puzzle, I help clients select the ones that tell the story they want their audiences to hear.
One word to describe your work style: Listen
How I got here: The way I see it, public relations saved me from myself. Having worked as a political and business journalist for 20 years in Southern Africa before moving to Vancouver in 1995, I was focused on getting a reporting job on the Vancouver Sun. But even back then the paper was in decline and vacancies were few and far between.
Freelancing was my next best option, but in a saturated market, opportunities for a newbie to the city were scarce, so I branched out and advertised my services to local PR firms. A leading local boutique agency at the time, Hoggan & Associates, took up the offer and launched my career in PR.
Eight years later with some great experience under my belt and armed with a newly-minted MBA specialising in Public Relations and Communications Management from Royal Roads University in Victoria, I felt ready for a leap into agency management, which is where I thought I should be.
Hill & Knowlton Strategies took me on as a VP in the Vancouver office and later made me general manager of the firm’s B.C. operations. That’s when it dawned on me that wishful thinking doth not a manager make.
I sucked at the job and missed the client-facing work. But I stuck with it for two years before going out on my own as an independent consultant in 2006. I also remained an H&K associate for several years and continued to learn from interactions with the firm’s multi-talented team.
What made me start my own company? While trying to build business during my time at H&K, I discovered that there were a significant number of small and medium size companies in the Vancouver region that needed PR help but couldn’t afford a big agency and wanted a very personalized approach to PR. That was the niche I slotted into. The first six months were a bit shaky as I found my feet and brought new clients on board, but I haven’t looked back since then.
My typical work day: I am fortunate to work from a home office in North Vancouver, so I get to avoid the Lower Mainland’s never-ending nightmare commutes. I typically have a couple of projects on the go and they become the focus of that day’s work.
Over the years, I’ve learned to cruise when workflow is slow – summer months usually – because I know that 16 hours days are just around the corner.
As an unrehabilitated adrenalin junkie from my ambulance-chasing days as a young reporter, I tend to excel in crisis communications. When the unexpected call comes in from a client – or, as is often the case, someone who has been referred by a client – it’s time to put routine work on hold, reschedule appointments and immerse myself in damage control. I love it.
How do I balance family-work? Both my daughters were young adults by the time I started CFPR. My wife was a senior executive with a publishing company and worked even harder than I did. She joined my company two years ago as a content specialist and project manager and we have a great working relationship (in spite of having to share the same office.)
9-5 is long gone – here’s what works for me: As a one-person band, I consider myself to be on call 24/7, particularly in times of crisis, and tell clients they can contact me at their convenience, day or night. It’s the service I sell. I balance that with taking time to decompress when business is slow by, for example, spending the day reading on my deck, or driving out to Fort Langley for lunch on a weekday. I enjoy what I do because I’m in control and don’t allow my job to enslave me.