Day in the Life Of: Ben Butler, Firm Owner Extraordinaire

Former National Committee member and current PRSA New Professional Ben Butler gives some insider’s information into what it’s like to own your own business. Photo courtesy of Butler.

This is a post on behalf of the PRSA New Professionals Section’s monthly series for PRSSA titled “Day in the Life Of.” The series journeys through various new public relations professionals’ daily lives, experiences and advice.

As a former PRSSA Chapter president and National Committee member, how did you handle being very involved in PRSSA and other activities and an internship?

My level of involvement in PRSSA, as well as other parallel-running activities, could’ve only been achieved by disciplining myself with two key tools: a to-do list and calendar blocking. Both tools, as you’ll see in a minute, go hand and hand.

On a yellow legal pad I would draw out my week across a page. I’d break it up by day and by hour and then would place that week’s upcoming activities in my time slots as my to do list. This is my version of calendar blocking.

A key to doing this successfully is prioritizing. For me, each day had a theme of work that I wanted to accomplish. This helped me to group similar tasks together and build momentum throughout the week. It also disciplined me to take on a tremendous volume of work, which comes in handy nowadays.

You started your own business, Top Hat IMC. What made you want to start your own business?

I was recruited to be the head of marketing and public relations for a local motorsport complex during my junior year. This position was my first “on my own” adventure in the industry. I had to trust my gut and put my knowledge to work, especially since they were looking to me for advice and direction.

I guess I did something right because from this position, I firmly established my media contacts and met a lot of people who were also interested in hiring me on the side. I took on additional contracts as a consultant until I needed to either stop taking on more clients or expand — I opted for the latter and Top Hat IMC was open for business.

What’s your best advice for those students who may want to start their own business?

There are so many things you need in order to successfully start your own business.

My number one piece of advice is to put together a team who you can truly trust. Without one, it’ll be difficult to be successful and make the right decisions.

You’re also the director of inbound partnerships at GuavaBox. How did you manage to get this job, as well as run your own company

About a year and a half ago, I got a call out of the blue from one of the co-founders of GuavaBox asking me if I’d be interested in helping them manage projects and to nurture and grow their team. I liked their culture and mission, so I said yes. The rest, as they say, is history.

Both positions work in harmony for two reasons: they both are leadership/strategy roles and are in two different disciplines. GuavaBox is strictly inbound marketing and Top Hat IMC is strictly branding/public relations. There’s also a lot of crossover between the two teams.

What’s one thing students can do or start now to really stand out in their future careers?

Take control of your personal brand right now.

It’s something that regardless of your status in life — student, pre-professional, veteran, etc. — can open doors and propel your career to places you never imagined were possible.

Ben Butler is the founder of Top Hat IMC — an integrated marketing communications firm — and director of inbound partnerships at GuavaBox, an inbound marketing agency. Both are located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can connect with Ben on LinkedIn and on Twitter @BenButlerPR.

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