Spotlight: Las Vegas

Jackie Poriadjian, SVP of strategic marketing, PR, and distribution at UFC, says collaboration, not competition, helps to boost business in Sin City.

Jackie Poriadjian, SVP of strategic marketing, PR, and distribution at UFC, says collaboration, not competition, helps to boost business in Sin City.

Nestled among Las Vegas' brightly lit casinos and hotels is the Ultimate Fighting Championship - a mixed martial arts organization headquartered in Sin City - which celebrated its 20th anniversary in November. Its secret to success? Collaboration.

"You would think Vegas is fiercely competitive, with every hotel and casino offering incredible shows," says Poriadjian. "But everyone is looking to build synergies with other entertainment properties."

During the UFC's annual International Fight Week, which takes place around July 4, the firm's 20-strong communications department seeks partnerships with local hotels and casino properties, offering fans other things to do during their visit.

The area's abundance of promotional opportunities also works for those outside the entertainment industry, adds Poriadjian.

"There are endless opportunities for companies to get their voices heard," she says. "Everyone is looking for another touch point in the community."

The city is a fast-paced environment where communications pros can don many hats in large organizations, she explains.

Fast Facts

For a power breakfast, Poriadjian recommends Verandah, an Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas (fourseasons.com); and, keeping with the Italian theme, if your meeting is later in the evening, Piero's (pieroscuisine.com) is a must.

Las Vegas has a metropolitan area population of 2,004,800, according to Forbes.

Las Vegas companies on the 2013 Fortune 500 list include: Las Vegas Sands (#244); MGM Resorts International (#292); Caesars Entertainment (#300); and Wynn Resorts (#478).

Vegas is a major hub for conventions. In 2012, 21,615 conventions were held, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The area's unemployment rate in September 2013 was 9.6%, compared with 11.4% in August 2012, according to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation.

The UFC is valued at $2 billion, according to financial analysts. In 2011, the organization signed a seven-year TV deal with Fox for $700 million. Its International Fight Weeks in Vegas net the city an economic impact of more than $100 million each year.

"PR practitioners here get to work live events, pitch media, and at the same time organize press conferences and become spokespeople," she adds. "They get lots of exposure that they would not get in bigger markets working with large agencies."

Vegas has a bounty of land and space available with no income tax to boot, so it's no coincidence that businesses are popping up in the region, says Poriadjian.

"There is an emergence of gentrification downtown with successful companies - such as online retailer Zappos - dropping anchor in the city."

Zappos' CEO Tony Hsieh and his partners are leading a $350 million Downtown Project, and have allocated $50 million to invest in Vegas-based tech startups through the VegasTechFund.

Since the project's launch last year, 60 tech companies have been funded, including Zirtual, an online service that matches busy professionals with virtual executive assistants.

Nevada's unemployment rate is at a four-year low of 9.6%. However, Poriadjian says Vegas' economy is bouncing back, and is teeming with PR vacancies.

"There are more PR jobs right now available than ever before," she says. "It's just a matter of being proactive and making connections happen."

A New Yorker, who traveled the world and spent six years in England, Poriadjian admitted she was apprehensive when the UFC offered her a promotion from its London office to Vegas a year ago. It turns out she got the luck of the draw.

"There is a lot of life off the strip," she explains. "We have a robust cultural spirit and a real sense of community. It's a great home town, as opposed to just a weekend destination."


Reach Out

Local PRSA chapter
(702) 739-9933
www.prsalasvegas.com
communications@prsalasvegas.com

University of Nevada Las Vegas
4505 South Maryland Parkway
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 895-3011
www.unlv.edu

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Association
3150 Paradise Road,
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 892-0711
www.lvcva.com

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