Debunking the location myth: New York or bust

January 1, 2012
an excerpt from PR Week
by Erin Allsman

Ahead of us is a year that will surely be marked by continued innovation and accelerated methods of communication. As PR professionals we’re keeping pace with these advancements, yet we seem unable to escape certain antiquated notions that linger from days past.

Over the course of this week I’ll focus on debunking common myths about PR and social media that can hold us all back. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts, including things I might have missed or additional ways to change the conversation.

First up is that age-old battle of location discrimination.

Myth: For great PR, my agency needs to be based in New York City.

Fact: Thirty-six of PRWeek’s top 50 agencies are headquartered outside of NYC. For a host of reasons, a New York firm can be the right fit, but for companies outside the Big Apple, it’s likely there is great PR happening in your own backyard.

Here are four reasons why the playing field is evening out across the country.

1. Media relationships aren’t bound by geography. Reporters respond to relevance. We communicate digitally and build relationships based on our ability to bring the right story to the right person, not our ability to meet for coffee or drinks. In today’s digital world, PR is flat.

2. We can be more customer intimate. Unlike above, this is a matter of geography. When we’re physically close to a client we can respond faster, have more face-to-face meetings and generally connect better, which can ultimately lead to better work. It’s especially crucial in a crisis situation when distance can be devastating.

3. We have an underdog mentality. We know New York has led our industry for years. We even know it’s sexier to say you work with a PR firm in New York than one in Philadelphia, or Minneapolis, or dare I say it, a suburb. So we’ll fight harder. It means something to us that local companies support the creative economies in our towns. It’s a value thing, and we think that’s worth more than a 212 area code.

4. We have local market expertise in a media landscape that’s trending toward hyper-local. As the hyper-local media trend continues to gain momentum, many companies can benefit from a local market component to their PR strategy. From large corporations to nonprofits it helps to be tied into the surrounding community, and smaller outlets with limited staff and demanding content requirements are desperate for trusted local resources.

Select an agency based on strategy, experience, and cultural fit. If it happens to be located in Boise, so be it.

Erin Allsman is VP of PR and social media director at Brownstein Group in Philadelphia. Find her on Twitter @ErinAllsman.