Unlike a lot of cities that attract new residents because of economic opportunities or culture, the lure of Phoenix has always been its weather and lifestyle, which has had a major impact on the local media.
Phoenix is now the fifth-largest city in the US in terms of population. That's triggering plenty of new news outlets. "It seems we have a new magazine starting up every month," says Beth McRae, principal of The McRae Agency. "While some are specific to particular areas around Phoenix, almost all of them are lifestyle reads."
"The media here are certainly keeping pace with the growing population in terms of what are the cool restaurants to go to and where to buy the latest thing for your garden," adds Sarah Fenske, a Phoenix New Times columnist. "A lot of the people here are transplants and never develop an interest in local government or businesses."
Nowhere is this more evident than in the struggles of the city's Gannett-owned daily, The Arizona Republic, which recently experienced a major restructuring, replacing entire sections with more community-specific reporters.
"It's been difficult if you're in PR because there's been a lot of shakeups at the paper and reassignments of beats," notes Cathy Planchard, PR group director for Mindspace. "But it's also creating new opportunities because, rather than pitch the big paper, you have a better chance with the reporters at the community bureaus."
But even those reporters tend to look for "feel-good" consumer news rather than traditional business stories. "On the business side, some [titles] in Phoenix have struggled, though The Business Journal is a big force here, especially for development and redevelopment stories," she adds.
Julie Rodriguez, public information manager at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, stresses the importance of having a communications strategy that appeals to a wide variety of outlets. "The parenting publications might be interested in family travel tips, while business reporters want details on the record number of passengers going through the airport," she says.
Ruben Ramos, Arvizu Advertising director of public affairs, says the city's large and growing Hispanic population is creating a demand for information beyond the white-hot immigration debate.
"The issues that are important to the general market - families and education, housing, and job opportunities - are the same issues that get covered in both the Spanish-language press and English-language outlets aimed at the Hispanics here," he says.
Phoenix is a lifestyle-driven market. You'll succeed more with consumer-centric pitches, especially those with a family or home angle, as opposed to looking for issue-driven or company coverage
Local Spanish-language media is booming, but much of it is radio and TV. Print is just now catching up with the growing Hispanic population
Phoenix is experiencing a major downtown development, but a lot of media's focus remains on the surrounding communities