Though somewhat geographically isolated, Denver has emerged not only as a competitive local media market, but also as the location for a surprising amount of huge national stories.
"In the past 30 years, we've seen Denver go from this vast wasteland of news to a market where there's a lot of activity and the capability to cover that activity," notes Peter Webb, president of Webb PR and a former Denver TV reporter. "Not only is there strong local TV, but CNN and Fox have bureaus here, and The Philadelphia Inquirer [and] LA Times, as well as The Wall Street Journal, all have reporters or stringers."
Denver is also one of the few remaining cities that can boast of a truly competitive newspaper market. "The Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post have been referred to as the last great newspaper war," says Michael Roberts, media columnist for the city's alternative weekly Westword. "These guys really don't like each other and try to beat each other on stories on a regular basis."
That acrimony remains strong even though the papers have operated under a joint operating agreement for five years, says Roberts.
Scott Harris, president of Harris Communications, notes that the competition ends up being a boon for local PR. "You have those two strong business sections, and you also have the Denver Business Journal," he says. "Outside of a few large companies like Qwest and Xcel, Denver is made up of small to midsize businesses, and the Business Journal really supports them."
Ironically, given Denver's reputation for quality of life, the one area where the city had been lacking was lifestyle coverage, as numerous outlets tried and failed to fill the niche. But that changed with the mid-1990s launch of 5280.
5280 editor/publisher Daniel Brogan suggests that part of the magazine's appeal is that it literally has something for everybody and covers topics aimed at both families and singles. "I think the joy of a general interest magazine such as ours is that we do get to bounce around," he says. "One month we can be a pet guide, and the next month it can be shopping, and the next month is can be politics."
But like in many cities, Denver's media growth going forward may be seen in the suburbs. "Places like Littleton or Inglewood have papers with solid readerships, and so our clients like the Colorado Department of Transportation are increasingly using those outlets to reach specific audiences," says Greg Morton, group account director for PRACO Advertising and Public Relations.
Denver is a truly competitive newspaper market, so leverage that by offering up exclusives to one paper or the other
Don't forget that Denver has a well-established and still growing Hispanic population, so look to target the small number of local Spanish-language outlets geared toward that audience
The one thing that seems to unite Denver residents is a love of pro sports, so keep that in mind, and avoid scheduling events that conflict with the Broncos, Rockies, Avalanche, or Nuggets