West vs. East: Differences between PR – and life – on the Coasts

By David Cumpston, Director, Landis Communications Inc.

I just returned from a weeklong trip to New York, more than four years after my last visit. Being the urban aficionado that I am, I didn’t mean to stay away for so long – life just took hold and I ended up visiting several new places instead of hitting up those “been there, done that” locales.

During my visit, I noticed the evolution of both “life” and of the communications industry that’s taken hold in both San Francisco and New York. Here are a few takeaways from my observations:

  1. Life at the epicenter of tech – I often explain to people visiting San Francisco that it sometimes feels like we’re living inside the Internet. My point really hit home during conversations with colleagues at CooperKatz & Company, a sister agency to LCI through the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN).

 

One person was curious to know what all the hubbub was about regarding the multitude of luxury, double-decker buses operated by myriad tech companies and roam our streets for hours upon end every day and night. (According to a report from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, there are so many of the large, privately owned shuttles operating in the Bay Area that if they all fell under a single agency, they would be the seventh-largest transportation provider in the region in terms of ridership.)

Another person asked how press in the Bay Area covered tech-related companies, as opposed to the national perspective they’re typically exposed to. The headquarters (and/or at least a large subset of offices) for several of the heavy hitters including Uber, Twitter, Google and others are within a 2 to 3-mile radius of our offices. Therefore, local press outlets report the news that makes national and international headlines – but they also cover how these companies are impacting daily life for Bay Area residents. From the above-mentioned shuttle buses to the occasional protests that wreak havoc on our already overcrowded streets, there’s never a dull moment when living in the shadows of the tech behemoths.

  1. The love/hate relationship between PT and ET – One thing I’ve always appreciated about being able to work East Coast hours while actually on the East Coast is that I feel somehow more “connected” to my New York compadres. Although I wouldn’t change my residency from sunny San Francisco if you paid me (less than a handsome sum), I’ve got to say how nice it is to hop on the phone with an East Coaster, morning coffee in hand, and have a conversation right then and there. Conversely, I can empathize with those who must wait until after lunch to reach one of us “Best Coasters,” due to the short – but long – three-hour time difference. It seems that no matter how much technology has improved our lives, we’re still waiting on that silver-bullet app which helps alleviate the trials and tribulations of time zones.

 

  1. Reporter musical chairs – It was interesting (and a bit disconcerting) to learn how the media landscape is changing in New York just as it is in the Bay Area. Over the past couple of years, it’s become increasingly difficult to keep track of which local reporters are covering which beats. For instance, a reporter who used to focus solely on retail is now tasked to cover not only retail, but perhaps real estate and economic development – all at the same time. Based on conversations I had with folks at CooperKatz, the issue has become just as prevalent on the East Coast, too. Fewer people charged with more responsibility makes it that much more difficult to grab their attention when it’s needed the most.

  1. Inter-agency camaraderie – One of the best things about working at LCI is the opportunity to engage with other PR professionals in PRGN. While in New York for a short vacation, I decided to tack on a few days of work, which gave me the opportunity to bond with the CooperKatz staff and share some best practices. The images above are from a get-to-know-you lunch they hosted in my honor, and it was during this time that we discussed a wide range of topics. Any time you get a chance to strengthen relationships is highly recommended. Be it with your family, your friends, journalists or like-minded PR pros, success and opportunity spring from the relationships you build and maintain.

 

What differences and similarities do you experience between the coasts? Please share your thoughts below or feel free to contact me directly at [email protected].

7 thoughts on “West vs. East: Differences between PR – and life – on the Coasts

  1. David,
    It sounds like you had an incredible “workcation” in NYC. As an East Coast defector, I can totally relate to the 3-hour time difference. For me, it’s one of the most challenging issues to deal with in PR and being based on the West Coast. My solution is to prep emails at night, set my alarm for 6 a.m., hit “send, send, send,” and then catch a few more z’s. 🙂 Glad you’re back!
    ~Ashley

  2. I remember reading about the Google bus controversies before I moved out this way. I am slightly jealous when I see those buses whizzing past on the motorway while I’m standing in a packed BART car!

  3. David, great blog. Well, let’s see if I can start a firestorm here. I used to think that East Coasters, especially New Yorkers, were the hardest workers in the nation. I no longer do. After having worked the 24/7 hours (and the time zone differences) that Silicon Valley demands, I believe it’s West Coasters who now hold the mantle for hardest working pros. OK, let me know what you think! Cheers, David (Landis)

  4. Great blog, David. You captured some of the real challenges of working on opposite sides of the country. Personally, having east coast and west coast (and international) PR experience, I can easily confirm that west coast, specially SF leads the pack.

  5. David,
    The biggest difference is the breadth and depth of industries NY media covers via media companies headquartered there. West Coast media covers tech, entertainment and ag industries quite well. Other industries are covered too, but not to the extent that NYC / East Coast media.
    Sean

  6. It was wonderful to host you here at CooperKatz, David! Everyone enjoyed the dialogue and there truly is nothing like actual in person, human interaction to counter-balance our hyper-digital world. That’s one of the things I really value about our PRGN network. Come back and visit again, anytime!

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