City Series: Making a Public Relations Career in Denver

City Series DenverAs a Colorado native, I’m here to tell you I live and work in the best place. That may be a little biased, but the facts below will corroborate that statement.

Let’s start with opportunity.  

Denver’s unemployment rate is 4.2 percent and has even been lower in recent months. That’s more than a full percent lower than the national average. We have a rich and thriving market and jobs are available if you’re willing to invest the time to look. Forbes Magazine ranked Denver first for the 2015 Best Places for Business and Careers. Colorado is also ranked 16 in job growth among the 50 states, according to Forbes. The public relations landscape is as open as our prairies and as high as the Rocky Mountain peaks.

Colorado and Denver attract a vibrant energy and environmental sector with a strong oil and gas industry. While Denver is the hub of activity and employment opportunities, in actuality the entire Front Range (Fort Collins to Colorado Springs) is buzzing with economic growth.

Agriculture is the third largest economic industry in Colorado, with several large companies providing opportunities to educate the public on critical issues, current trends and emerging technology.

Let’s move on to the marketplace.

Denver offers a myriad of industries and career choices. Whatever the choice, Denver has a vibrant workplace that can challenge your skills in traditional public relations, media relations, community relations, digital media, content development, event planning, marketing communications, business-to-business (B2B) and many other options in the bioscience arena at Baxter Corporation, Hach Company and Quest Diagnostics.

The aerospace industry in Colorado ranks second in the nation and is closely followed by telecommunications and technology. There is also a strong healthcare sector from hospital to provider networks and biotechnology to research facilities, including the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Centura Health, DaVita and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Corporate positions at large companies like Encana, CenturyLink, Level 3 Communications, Comcast, Liberty Media, Ball Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, IBM and Sierra Nevada (we’re not talking the beer here!) account for hundreds of public relations positions in Colorado. Likewise, the government sector boasts several jobs with the Federal Center located west of Denver and active municipalities and military installations.

Denver also has a strong nonprofit community from donor-based organizations to trade associations. The Morris Animal Foundation, Mi Casa Resource Center and others offer a chance to test your skills in community relations, special event planning, social media and fundraising. You can add in Denver’s cultural attractions like the Denver Art Museum and Botanic Gardens and every sport available from our professional teams to collegiate athletics.

Professional services also offer a wide variety of opportunities from law and finance to engineering with companies that include Fentress Architects, URS Corporation, Hogan Lovell and 1stBank, Wells Fargo and Great West Financial and others. These public relations positions tap community relations and reputation management skillsets.

Consider the setting.

What’s your pleasure? You can work in the bustle of downtown to business hubs like the Denver Tech Center or trendy, evolving communities like LoDo, LoHi and RiNo. Conduct a Google search of any one of those and you’ll find them ranked among the fastest growing areas in the state and nation.

Have your heart set on an agency? Corporate? Nonprofit? Government? You’ve come to the right place. There are pockets of industry in Colorado, but thankfully, we have diverse settings that cater to a variety of work styles.

While Denver doesn’t feature the large global public relations agencies like New York, San Francisco or Chicago, we have a rich community of mid-size and boutique agencies that cater to national, international and local clientele. They are as diverse as the business world and offer as many working environments.

The largest agencies include Linhart PR, MGA Communications, Groundfloor Media and Metzger Associates who all delve into specialties from technology and crisis communications to hospitality and travel. The public relations community is supplemented by a strong network of boutique agencies like Barefoot PR and the Fresh Ideas Group. Toss in a healthy independent practitioner sector and you have a well-rounded public relations community.

If you’re looking for a product industry, Colorado boasts more than 150 breweries, leading the nation in beer production. From major players like Molson-Coors to local microbrews like Great Divide Brewing, these breweries offer unique public relations positions to challenge your marketing communications skills. So whether you’re looking for the traditional office job or want to test out a creative workspace, Denver can deliver.

Whatever you might choose, Denver has a thriving, energetic public relations community that is active in PRSA, affinity groups, chambers of commerce and a variety of networks. These are just a few of the reasons Denver is a great place to live and work, especially when you’re in public relations.

Jane Dvorak, APR, Fellow PRSA, started JKD & Company in 1989 and has driven strategic communications programs in industries ranging from healthcare to agriculture with energy, creativity and impact. Jane is an accredited member of PRSA, was inducted into the College of Fellows in 2010 and currently serves as the PRSA National board treasurer. You can connect with Jane via twitter @JKDJane, LinkedIn or on JKD & Company’s Facebook Page.

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