Thursday, November 26th, 2020

From Employee to PR Entrepreneur: Dana Humphrey

By Cathy Watters on Mar 21 2011 • Filed under Business

Dana Humphrey, Whitegate PR

Dana Humphrey was working up to 50 hours a week as an in-house publicist when she decided to start her own company, Whitegate PR, four years ago.

“I had one client," she says,"and was consulting about 10 hours a month."

This entrepreneurial woman continued working as an employee for about 1 1/2 years while she figured out how to be an entrepreneur.

Getting started

"When I first filled out my 'Doing Business As' (DBA) certificate [business licence] in San Diego, I had no clue what I was doing. I just kind of learned along the way," she says.

She talked to as many business owners as she could, participated in teleseminars and workshops, and asked a colleague to teach her QuickBooks.

“There are so many resources that are there to help entrepreneurs get started and get going," she says. "It’s really about diving in and figuring out what needs to get done."

When she was ready, Dana packed up and moved to Astoria, New York, making Whitegate PR her full-time job.

"Now, I’m at a point where I get new business referrals almost every single day; from LinkedIn, from emails, from people calling me," she says. "And it’s mainly from networking, both online and face-to-face.”

Finding a niche

Dana always knew she wanted to work in public relations. She studied in the US and Canada (including a semester at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia) and her first jobs after graduation helped her develop a specialty.

She worked in-house for a socially responsible wine company that helped raise money for Great White sharks, then moved on to Muttropolis, doing marketing and PR for five retail stores and an online pet boutique. Now that she's working for herself, she provides PR for consumer products and services in the pet industry.

“As far as starting my own business, I’ve always been a very independent person," she says. "If I’m going to be working really hard, why do it for someone else’s company when I could be an entrepreneur?”

She does a lot of networking for her business and "highly recommends it" to other people. In her early stages, she attended Business Networking International (BNI) meetings and called on old friends and people she worked with before.

"Getting started was kind of like how you would look for a job," she says, "going after the clients I already had, saying, 'this is what I’m doing now. Do you have any ideas or know anyone who would need some PR or Marketing services?'”

Start-up costs

Dana started her business for less than $100. She already owned a phone and computer, and just had to pay for her DBA Certificate. However, since then, she's put money into things like developing websites and buying equipment, such as computers, cameras and video cameras, that helps her create a better online presence.


Running a company is an ongoing learning process, and Dana says she's constantly tweaking the way things are done. In addition, she's had to struggle her way through a variety of issues: pricing, staff management and firing clients when it's not working out, for example.

"Pricing is something I think all business owners struggle with," Dana says, "making sure you’re in that sweet spot of charging enough to make it worthwhile and not charging so much the client can’t go for it."

With up to three interns on hand at any time in addition to team members, she's been learning how to manage staff expectations and day-to-day scheduling.

"If I’m going to be working really hard, why do it for someone else’s company when I could be an entrepreneur?"


Dana has lived in five different countries. Born in Calgary, Alberta, she moved with her family to England and then California, USA.

Through work abroad programs in university, she taught English in Morocco and developed intranet personnel pages for the treasury department of Turkcell, a  GSM (mobile communication) company where she learned Photoshop in Turkish.

“It was a great experience," she says. "Turkey is one of my favourite countries.”

She notes that with her company, she often works with people from all over the world, and says living abroad has helped her "connect the dots" of how the world works. But whether she's working with people in Lithuania or at home, it's all about getting exposure for her clients.

"PR is about media relations and pitching," she says. "No matter what the product or service, if it’s interesting and newsworthy, I can pitch it to a relevant media outlet and try to secure coverage."

Five tips for Entrepreneurs:

1. Be a savvy networker. That means, networking, talking, connecting with people everywhere you go.

2. Share your contacts freely. If you go into networking just looking out for yourself, it’s not going to work as well as if you share and help other people.

3. Have an online presence. Get on LinkedIn (a professional social networking site) and optimize your LinkedIn profile. "It’s the best thing you can do for your business."

4. Just do it. It may sound cliché, but if you’re a business owner, you can’t be afraid to take risks. If you always do the same thing and expect the same results, you’re not going to see them. You have to try something new in order to get different results.

5. Don’t take it personally. If someone criticizes your product or doesn’t like something about your business, let it go and move on. You can't please 100% of the people. That’s okay. Expect it. Be happy for the 80% who love your product.


  1. Don’t look as it as scary – look at it as an opportunity! What do you make?

  2. It is hard when you have a full time job to go ahead and start a business. I am not where I want to be yet. But with GOD as my guide I know that with my husband and family I will. It can be “scary” to make that move to leave the day job because it supports your business. And this is so true that you need to talk to people and network. Share what you know, it will lead you to more opportunites to meet even more people. Doing craft shows is a start for me until I am able to make the items I want that will sell full time online full time.

    And yes, I will get remarks that come from someone whose criticizes negatively. Oh well, I consider the source and move on. I love what I do. And then there are those who will buy what I make whatout blinking an eye and tell me what beautiful work that I do. And buy the item what out thinking twice! The good out weighs the bad every time.

    Congrats to Ms.Humphrey and her suscess. It is good to see people happy at what they do and to be successful at it as well!


  1. Irresistible Links: Week of March 21, 2011 |

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