Once considered a Rust Belt city in a slow, but perceptible decline, Pittsburgh is undergoing a quiet renaissance that, in many ways, is carrying the local media along for the ride.
Not only is Pittsburgh one of the few markets to have successfully added a newspaper over the past 15 years, with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, it's also seen growth in local radio/TV news programming, as well as lifestyle-centric Web sites like the e-zine Pop City. "There's been a huge resurgence in Pittsburgh," says Shari Boyle, VP of PR for full-service communications agency Marc USA.
"There are actually more jobs here now than during the height of the steel industry," she adds. "The city is among the leaders in fields like robotics and tissue engineering, and the emerging trend in the media here is to cover that, though we still have to push them a bit."
The city's surprising affordability is also triggering a boom in arts and culture. Pop City's managing editor Tracy Certo says one of the reasons for the year-old site's launch was that much of this new cultural resurgence was being underreported; but she quickly adds that Pop City strives to do more.
"We're very much a showcase for positive stories about the things moving the city forward," she says, "so we also focus on things like technology and real-estate development news."
Many of the things that drive Pittsburgh's current growth also play a role in keeping journalists in town. "Some reporters come here with aspirations to move on, but end up liking it and staying," notes Mary Ann Miller, a 26-year area PR veteran who recently left as executive director of Jack Horner Communications' Pittsburgh office to form her own agency. "It's a competitive media market, but at the same time, very collegial - it's also very cosmopolitan, and the cost of living is relatively low."
Miller adds that because PR pros and media tend to remain for the long term, there's added importance in relationship building. "Pittsburgh has two degrees of separation, if that," she says. "So if you can develop a good reputation, you do [very] well here."
Katie McSorley, Euro RSCG Magnet EVP, says the local business community gets plenty of coverage from the weekly Pittsburgh Business Times, as well as the daily Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review.
She adds, "It's always been a huge local talk-radio town, and TV talk is coming back to Pittsburgh in a big way, so those are providing additional opportunities for area clients."
Though the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is considered a better get, the Tribune-Review may be easier to pitch, especially with a strong community angle
Pittsburgh is drawing more retirees with its abundant culture and low cost of living. Stories aimed at aging baby boomers will find a growing audience
Though it doesn't quite rival Boston or Silicon Valley, Pittsburgh is emerging as a tech center, especially in fields like robotics, so the area media are interested in technology-themed pitches with strong local hooks