“Everyone from the Chamber of Commerce to Art Popham is talking about the national press attention stemming from Tacoma’s high-tech growth. A few questions surrounding this national press attention remain unanswered. Who are the national media outlets covering Tacoma and why? More importantly, how can we utilize this press exposure to benefit our community and individual businesses?The list of national magazines and newspapers reporting on Tacoma’s high-tech growth reads like a Who’s Who at the Maggie Awards. Business 2.0, 2000 Maggie Award winner for the best business and finance publication, provided a five-page spread on the Puget Sound and Tacoma as an emerging tech hub this month. Inc. magazine is producing a similar story to run in the fall. Even the most respected national business newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, reported on Tacoma’s high-tech growth. A complete list of articles can be found at www.wiredcityusa.com.Becky Japhet, Economic Development Marketing coordinator for the City of Tacoma, credits Development Counselors International (DCI) for generating the press. DCI designed the logo, Tacoma America’s #1 Wired City and acted as the initial contact with Inc. magazine. Reporters and media consumers are interested in the image DCI created for Tacoma. This interest is explained by trends in pop culture. The media covers stories that are propelled by human interest, which appeals to a broad audience. One popular media trend can be seen on CBS’s Survivor or ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The American public wants to live vicariously through the media’s portrayal of a winning individual or community.Coupled with Tacoma’s classic underdog image, the American public is rooting for Tacoma to partner with Seattle in forming the next Silicon Valley. The media is willing to cover this birth for the same reason the consumer is willing to read it. Their support allows them to ephemerally take part in the world of high-tech. This media coverage is useful and should not be discounted by local businesses. It draws venture capital, entrepreneurial, and consumer attention to the community and local businesses. Individual businesses that contribute to the city’s wired image gain valuable media exposure. An article that describes a high-tech firm in Business 2.0 is more credible than an advertisement costing thousands of dollars. The article is free and gains better name recognition for the company. Andrea Peterson, Sales Associate for Colliers International says, The benefits of media exposure are reciprocal for businesses in general. Colliers International utilizes Tacoma’s #1 wired media exposure to gain name recognition and new customers drawn to move into Tacoma-based Colliers’ real estate properties. Recent coverage from the San Jose Mercury News has a different utility. While this media outlet does help our high-tech community gain name recognition, the primary function is to entice employees to move to Tacoma. Dennis Johnson, Tacoma-Pierce County Media Center Director, describes the benefits of recruiting from the San Jose area, Any worker moving to Tacoma from Silicon Valley is coming from the most highly distilled technology atmosphere in the world. We are able to pick from the best of the best. Jim Crabbe, Director of New Business Development for Web-X Inc. comments on the San Jose opportunity, Web-X has more than tripled its size in the last year and a half in Tacoma. This has forced us to be creative in how we find qualified, experienced employees. Spreading the message of Tacoma’s quality of life, low cost of doing business, and multiple sources of bandwidth, helps to increase the flow of high-tech workers to the greater Tacoma area. We have experienced a lot of success in attaining qualified employees from selling Tacoma’s strengths. Spreading the word to other cities can be nothing but beneficial. The cost to advertise in the Mercury News may be less than hiring a headhunter to fill needed positions. For example, the least expensive headhunter charges 25 percent of a programmers starting salary to fill this position. The median salary for this position is $65,000.00. The cost to fill this position with the least expensive headhunter is $16,250.00. Comparatively, the least expensive cost to advertise in the San Jose Mercury News is $3,410.00. Advertising is a less expensive means to attract your target employee. Recruitment dollars spent on advertising with Mercury News buys the community valuable exposure through advertorial commentary. I encourage you to look into this special advertising feature. Production will continue only if Tacoma’s businesses purchase advertising space to show support. Please call or email Jamie Chase at 253-573-1030, or firstname.lastname@example.org with comments on the following future topics: The Climate of Innovation in Tacoma; Local Government Facilitation of a High-tech Economy; The Relationship between Seattle and Tacoma in the High-tech Revolution; and, The effectiveness of Online Advertising. Suggestions for column topics, comments on technology issues and the column are welcome.Jamie Chase is director of public relations for Nhanced Media, a Tacoma high-tech firm. Chase is involved with the promotion of Tacoma’s high tech industry, and is on the steering committee for PBS affiliate KBTC. She writes a column on high-tech issues in Tacoma, Fridays, in the Index.”
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