After the roundtable, and subsequent cocktail reception for a larger portion of the PR community (sponsored by Waggener Edstrom Worldwide), I was struck by a few characteristics of the region. One is that Microsoft and Boeing still run the corporate scene, in spite of the presence of other major companies, and Boeing's corporate HQ move (to Chicago) a few years ago. Virtually all conversation included mention of one or the other.
Seattle has stong connections to Asia, not surprising given its proximity to the region. In fact, with the presence of the two giants, as well as Starbucks, Seattle has a real global profile. Kind of strange to think that in 1999 the city was the focus of global attention during the WTO protests, dubbed the Battle in Seattle. Some we spoke to in Seattle said the coverage of this was overblown, but it's clear that this was a difficult spotlight for the city to be under at the time.
The talent war is an issue that comes up constantly on roundtables. Somehow I felt that it wasn't as problematic in Seattle as in other markets, though it was still important. One roundtable participant mentioned the presence of Microsoft spouses as a recruiting pool. Considering their ranks come from around the world, perhaps that's not surprising.
Traffic is evidentally an emotional issue for Seattle residents, though I have to say I never found myself caught in any big traffic jams. But it's definitely a car city.
More to come in the transcript of our roundtable. We had a number of great visits with various firms, including Publicis Dialog (the test kitchen is everything you hear about and more), Wongdoody (why are ad agency offices so cool?), and Text 100 (the newsroom sensibility lives in all their offices).