A decade ago, if a startup company wasn’t in Silicon Valley it would struggle to secure media and investor attention. Today’s startups have an expanded, legitimate and thriving list of options on where to set their roots. A report from the Progressive Policy Institute earlier this year detailed how the startup economy has spread in the past decade due to various factors including technology, economic dynamism and the job growth potential associated with startups. Now with hubs as diverse as Austin, Boston, Seattle and Silicon Slopes in Utah, there’s no shortage of startup headquarter options.

This trend also extends to PR and marketing. In the past, prospects would arrive with very specific coastal preferences, based on the old axiom “location matters.” That axiom no longer fits the reality of media. Many reporters are remote and technology enables the relationship to develop outside of the traditional hubs of San Francisco or New York.

Just as a company can be headquartered wherever it makes sense, a potential PR partner can also be located away from the coasts. Good story telling has no geographical limits. If you know the reporter, their likes/dislikes, and have the right pitch to share with them, they don’t care that you’re not sitting across the street.

At SHIFT Austin, we have clients in the lone star state but also in cities around the country and as far as Israel. Not being in the same city hasn’t put these client relationships at risk or at a disadvantage. In fact, we’ve found it can often be a strength. Clients are benefiting from our ability to think outside their geographical bubble and bring unexpected perspectives. Here are a few key tactics on making the most of location for geographically dispersed clients.

  • Making a more significant effort around face time. Sometimes when you have the luxury of meeting weekly, it devolves into tactical conversations and both the agency and client can become lax. Without that fallback, each in-person meeting creates urgency and can result in deeper brainstorms, strategic conversations and face time with executives that aren’t regularly available. Breaking these up quarterly or every six months can make a real difference to a PR program. Also, diversifying the location between agency and client site can help reset the meeting dynamics.
  • Leveraging video chats for shorter meetings. For those weekly calls or one off campaign conversations, make sure to use the video component of GoToMeeting or Skype. Conference call audio delays create awkward exchanges. With video, you’ll see each other and benefit from non-verbal communication, which is usually sited as making up 50% or more of overall communication value. Also, seeing clients in their own environment – be it at work or home – can help round out your perspective of them.
  • Take advantage of more than just email. Productivity/collaboration platforms like Slack can help keep communication efforts on the level for both teams. Being able to have a firm showcase ownership helps track workflow and highlights the team’s value beyond media coverage.

Is Silicon Valley no longer relevant? Absolutely not. There will always be an abundance of talent, entrepreneurism and potential sprouting from the Bay Area. But opportunity is growing just as fast, if not faster, elsewhere. Just as there’s a huge growth potential in numerous markets for new and innovative businesses to meet the demands of the digital technology age. PR and marketing is following suit. Let experience and skill sets guide your agency search, not just the local zip code.

Ben Waring
Account Director


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