PR Mom Runs Household and Agency From Home, also Runs on the Beach

Who: Christine Perkett, PerkettPRWhat: Marketing, branding, public relations, social marketing, training services, digital content. Forrester Research has called PerkettPR a “Golden IT Standard” of virtual companies. 

Where: Marshfield, Massachusetts. Perkett has a third floor of her house dedicated to her home office. She is also on the road a lot for networking events and client meetings. All of her employees work virtually, from home.

When: “Typical” hours may run from about 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., but she said work sometimes seeps into her evening hours with family, even the early morning hours. Since Perkett runs her own virtual PR service, she’s never really “off” the clock.

How: In the late 90s, Perkett left a corporate job and started freelancing for former employers during the height of the tech boom, and she said then she quickly realized how many tech startups were in need of trustworthy PR counsel. Perkett saw a way to give it to them by starting an agency with what she labels as the best talent – a pool of only well-seasoned executives. She freelanced for a few months and then, in 1998, incorporated her own agency, hired employees and the rest is history. She now has a thriving, nationally recognized PR, social marketing and digital services firm for clients in tech, health care, lifestyle and higher education industries. Her firm has served clients throughout the world – from Australia to Norway, London to Israel and more.

Why: Perkett started this business with her own capital and no outside investment. She said her main goal was to differentiate her business from the myriad of PR firms out there. By hiring senior employees – some of which had been her former managers – and investing her capital into the people, not the office space, she said she thought she could offer clients the best talent in the nation, not just the region. She said the result is a happy, non-hierarchal culture, more strategic results for clients and a way for her to quickly build the business. When she started in 1998, a virtual company was considered fairly radical – especially for a services firm based on intellectual capital. So she said she spent many new business pitches answering questions about how they collaborate, explaining that her company invested plenty of time and resources into the best technology to ensure that her staff was able to work very closely, even if they weren’t in the same office.

Day in the Life: The first thing Perkett does when she wakes up is check her e-mail, then Twitter and Facebook on her Droid X. She’s looking for breaking news, urgent client requests and other developments from her news and community sources. She may work for an hour before making breakfast for her two sons, ages 5 and 8, and getting them out the door to the school bus at 8 a.m. In nicer weather, she may head to the beach for a quick run with one of her three dogs, then grab a coffee and a bagel before heading back to her office by 9 a.m. She checks her e-mail again, answers and posts some Tweets, and starts working her way down her “To Do” list, which may change often. But that’s what Perkett said she loves about the business – it’s fast-paced, and you have to be able to multitask to be successful.

Around 11:15 a.m. each day, Perkett runs downstairs to ask her kindergartner how his school day was, and say “hello” to the nanny. Unless she has a work-related lunch scheduled, she tends to skip it or eat it at her desk while joining a Twitter chat about marketing, customer service or PR. She checks in with her third grader around 3:30 and gets a snack or tea.

She works until 6 p.m, “technically,” and tries very hard to focus on her kids between then and their 8 p.m. bedtime. Some days work will spill over into those hours, but usually she uses that time to catch up on their day, play games or follow up on any unfinished homework. After she puts the kids to bed, she may eat a late dinner and then she usually fires up the laptop again; it’s not unusual for her to work until 1 or 2 a.m.

“I’ve been trying to make that less of a habit this last year,” Perkett said. “I’m a night owl, and I find I do my best work in the still of the night.”

Despite the long hours, Perkett said working from home has allowed her to have quality family time many others in her industry often find hard to fit in.

“I feel blessed to be able to say ‘hello’ to them during the work days,” Perkett said. “Because I’m in the service business, my hours mirror my clients’ work days – so being able to kiss my kids on the forehead in between project deadlines and phone meetings is a blessing. And the fact that I don’t have a commute means I get extra time with them in the mornings and evenings that many of my industry colleagues don’t get.”

By Liza Porteus Viana (Fox Business)

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