Going Organic in the Silicon Forest

By Matter

Portland thrives in the Silicon Forest (Photo courtesy of backpacker.com)

Although I am one of the newest team members with Matter Communications, I have been doing this PR thing for while—eight years to be exact. During my early years in PR I saw the emergence of the smartphone app, the dawn of the very painful 2008 recession, and the rise of social networks like Facebook and Twitter. I learned early on that having a Swiss Army knife full of skills will make you invaluable to both bootstrapped clients and to your own firm. Part of me feels like I grew up in Silicon Valley. It’s where I first fell in love with consumer technology and really learned how to be a great PR person. I took my first steps as a professional there and learned the industry in and out, but like most hometowns in order to keep growing, sometimes you have to leave the nest.

The first time I heard someone mention the “Silicon Forest,” it piqued my interest. From big data number crunchers to companies like Urban Airship and Simple, some cutting-edge trends were springing up in Portland, and many of tech’s most influential players were opening offices all over the Pacific Northwest.

After a few visits, I knew it was for me.

Working in Silicon Valley for almost a decade taught me a lot about hustle. I learned the power of forming authentic relationships and how to spot the difference between a brilliant idea and a brilliant pitch. Still, something was always missing for me—something never fit quite right. When I started meeting professionals in Portland—everyone from reporters and startup founders to deep thinkers and unicycle riders—things really started to click for me. (Not that the latter two are mutually exclusive!)

Having been in Matter’s Portland office for just over two months, I can honestly say that I am continually impressed and excited about what makes the Silicon Forest thrive. Portland’s tech scene offers all of the core things that made the Valley special, and so much more. In the Pacific Northwest, environmental sustainability isn’t an afterthought and important conversations around diversity in tech come up organically. Startups aren’t just creating fun products—they’re creating culture and real change. It’s really a beautiful thing!

Establishing myself as a PR professional in Portland’s lush Silicon Forest has been a remarkably natural process, some could even say it’s been very organic. During my time in Portland, everyone I’ve encountered in tech has shown a genuine eagerness to connect me with their circles, and forge real connections over a local pour-over cup of coffee.

For me, that drive to form authentic, organic relationships is what really sets Portland’s Silicon Forest apart.

People here love genuine. They love real conversations and getting to know you, your company, and how you might be able to make something together. And I love genuine too.

Sure, I might have been swayed by the abundance of delicious craft beers and artisan donuts, but Bridge City is definitely for me!