As a Brit who recently moved to Vancouver, I've got an unusual perspective on the PR scene in the city.
Prior to moving here, I was told more than once that Vancouver was “a small fish” in comparison to the PR epicenter of London, my previous home. Having been in the city for a year, I can fairly dispute this: Vancouver is fast becoming a booming hub of PR activity.
Research published by Business in Vancouver supports this. Revenue generated from PR in British Columbia has risen at a rapid rate since 2004, with data from Statistics Canada showing that total industry revenue increased by an impressive 21% in 2010 to $63.9 million.
Why is this happening? More head offices are coming to Vancouver. Some company headquarters have moved to the city, such as TELUS. Other companies have been founded in Vancouver – for example, Avigilon, Hootsuite, Lululemon, and Arc-teryx.
Vancouver is a hot spot for innovation. CIBC would back my theory: its recent report names British Columbia as having the most start-ups across Canada with 3.7% of the working population being part of a start-up, an amazingly high figure.
With Vancouver's history steeped in the gaming industry, it's not surprising to discover that tech firms are leading the way in Vancouver. As a tech aficionado, I'm delighted with this trend and proud to hear the city being increasingly referred to as the “Silicon Valley of the North.”
I have a second theory as to why Vancouver's PR industry is booming. As all good realtors say, it's all about “location, location, location,” and that's true in the PR industry, too.
Not only is Vancouver in a beautiful spot - it's the reason I moved here - but it's also well-located to offer PR support to the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region. Many European firms focus their growth on the East Coast of the US. West Coast cities like Vancouver are well-placed to strengthen ties with Asia-Pacific, which is projected to grow 6.5% in 2012. In fact, partners of our firm are traveling in the region to increase our connections.
Something should also be said for the globalization of businesses as a whole. Since living in Vancouver, I've found myself pitching to a wide array of titles from all corners of the world – UK, US, New Zealand, and Australia, as well as across Canada - and as a place with six different time zones, this is no easy feat.
Ultimately the way of working with media – regardless of where you are in the world – follow some basic rules. If you have a story that's timely, well-presented, and relevant to a publication's readership, you're likely to gain interest. The only real barrier is language, and there are ways of overcoming this, for instance hiring people with multi-lingual skills.
Vancouver has a strong PR scene, and it's growing. Admittedly the budgets available are sometimes smaller, but passion, creativity, and hard-work thrive here, so it shouldn't be dismissed as a serious player. It's a city that's cultivating innovation and whatever is created – whether it's a new tech product or a new service – needs publicity. If you're in doubt, come for a visit and check it out.
Charlotte Sherry is an account director at Peak Communicators, western Canada's largest independent PR firm. She is also the marketing and communications manager at Women in Leadership.