Spotlight: Seattle

Waggener Edstrom Worldwide CEO Melissa Waggener Zorkin talks about Seattle's growth and its coffee-infused innovative culture.

Waggener Edstrom Worldwide CEO Melissa Waggener Zorkin talks about Seattle's growth and its coffee-infused innovative culture.

Rain might be the first element that comes to mind when you think of Seattle, but the largest city in the Pacific Northwest is also an energetic place with a passion for doing social good, says Waggener Edstrom Worldwide CEO Melissa Waggener Zorkin.

Seattle is home to major international players including Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, and Boeing, as well as the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and US retailers REI and Nordstrom.

Fast Facts

1. Zorkin's favorite place in town for a client power lunch: Café Champagne, 1600 Post Alley, or Mistral Kitchen, 2020 Westlake Avenue
2. Seattle's warmest month is July with an average temperature of 65°F. The coolest is January with an average temperature of 41°F
3. The commercial real-estate market in the Puget Sound area was one of the most active in the US during fourth quarter 2012 according to Cushman & Wakefield.'s move took up just under 1 million square feet of space and helped push the vacancy rate to 16.5% from 19.5% at year-end 2011
4. Seattle ranked sixth on Trulia's list of the country's healthiest housing markets for 2013
5. The average starting salary for PR pros in the Northwest is $40,000 – the highest starting salary of any region in the US, according to a survey by PRWeek and Bloom, Gross & Associates. The median annual salary for PR pros in the Northwest is $92,500
6. The top five Fortune 500 companies in Seattle by revenue are: Costco Wholesale, $88.9 billion; Microsoft, $69.9 billion;, $48.1 billion; Paccar, $16.4 billion; and Starbucks, $11.7 billion

Trailblazing work from such organizations - along with a citywide coffee craze - fuels a culture of innovation. "I travel the world," Zorkin says, "but I always come back to Seattle."

"Our community is made up of people who are driven to make a difference," Zorkin notes. "Businesses aren't just interested in the bottom line, but also in how they can contribute to the community. This is a huge undertaking. Many organizations need direction for how they can be socially responsible while making good business decisions."

Besides the Pacific Ocean breeze and mountain view, Seattle is a good work environment for PR pros because of the city's creative spirit. "Perhaps it's our frontier mentality here or our effervescent coffee culture," says Zorkin, "but people and companies here are energized to try something new. Innovation is constantly around us."

While Seattle is known for its strength in the technology and coffee sectors, the medical industry is also growing, and the merging of tech and healthcare will open further opportunities for communicators, Zorkin explains.

The distance from industry hubs such as New York or Chicago might create some challenges for PR executives working in Seattle, but the city also attracts a high caliber of talent because of its proximity to "world-changing businesses," Zorkin notes. Of course, the city's lifestyle is a draw, too.

"People here know how to live, play, and work, and most of us love to be outside as much as possible," Zorkin says. "What we find is that when people come to Seattle, they want to stay."

Reach out
Mayor Mike McGinn
Mayor's office, City Hall, 600 4th Avenue (206) 684-4000

Local PRSA chapter
Puget Sound
(206) 623-8632

Major media outlets
The Seattle Times, KIRO-7 CBS, KOMO-4 ABC, KING-5 NBC, KCPQ-13 FOX, and Seattle Magazine

Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce
1301 Fifth Avenue, 25th floor, (206) 389-7200

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