City Series: Public Relations Industry Booming in the Silicon Hills of Austin

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Photo courtesy of Tran

When one thinks of the state of Texas, images of cowboy boots, “Friday Night Lights,” and the best brisket you’ve ever tasted come to mind. While Austin does have all of the above, it has become the Boomingest Big City of all, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

With events such as South by Southwest (SXSW), “Austin City Limits” (ACL), Austin Food + Wine Festival, and home to company headquarters like Dell and branches like Google and Facebook, Austin is a leader in everything from food to tech.

Dynamic Growth

Among the 25 largest cities in the country, Austin has experienced a 12 percent population growth since 2010, and the numbers just keep on rising. What is it about the city with the motto “Keep Austin Weird,” that keeps people coming and wanting to stay?

Part of it is the growing job market, which includes the public relations industry. With a nickname such as the Silicon Hills, it comes as no surprise that Austin’s main source of public relations work revolves around the technology industry and the start-up community. In other words, Austin is becoming a more affordable, micro-San Francisco.

Ask for Mentorship

Because of the bustling variety and increased need for public relations for these new businesses, public relations students have the opportunity to learn from mentors at tech giants and start-up tycoons. As a student at The University of Texas at Austin and a member of the Alan Scott Chapter of PRSSA, I’ve been able to learn from PRSA Austin professionals who are leaders ranging from blue-chip companies to boutique agencies.

This past year, our Chapter increased our interaction with the PRSA Austin Chapter by developing a mentorship program that allowed current PRSSA members to have a professional mentor. The year kicked off with a mentor/mentee mixer at a local Austin eatery, which allowed both parties to meet each other in a casual setting. Throughout the year, mentees are encouraged to meet up with their mentors or email about professional advice.

If you’re a growing public relations professional who is interested in a city with a great personality and a budding job market, Austin is calling your name. If you’re ready to pack your bags, consider the following:

  • Make a list and contact the people you already know from your PRSSA/PRSA network that live in Austin.
  • Reach out to PRSA Austin members to further understand the public relations landscape.
  • Consider working at a growing start-up company housed in incubators like Capital Factory.
  • Reach out to public relations professionals in the areas you’re most interested in and ask to buy them a cup of coffee — we love our local coffee.

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Vi Tran serves as the 2014–2015 PRSSA president at The University of Texas at Austin Alan Scott Chapter. Upon graduation in May 2015, she will start her full-time role as a management analyst with Accenture, based out of San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter @viitrannn and LinkedIn.

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