Matter Chatter

PR: Is Proximity Relative?

As the newest team member at Matter Communications in Portland, OR, I take time to reflect on the words of one of the most influential voices of my generation to help make my transition as seamless as possible:

“When opportunity knocks, you better let him in. Sit him on down and try to be his friend.”

I’ve taken Coolio’s words to heart during my first month with Matter and the weeks leading up to my start date. Yes, Coolio AND the Space Jam soundtrack referenced in my first Matter Chatter.  I stick by my “most influential” claim. #noregrets.

Throughout my career, I’ve been a part of numerous PR campaigns ranging from basic US-based media relations to global product launches and reviews. I’ve worked in agencies on the east and west coasts and have come across opportunities with clients down the street and half way around the world.

Many times, potential clients, who are not necessarily within driving range of the office, will question the reliability or ability of an agency to meet their needs. Are time zones really that big of an issue? Of course, it may be inconvenient to be in our Portland office on a call at 6AM, but if the work is done satisfactory and in a timely manner, should that be an issue?

Whether we like to admit it, a PR professional is on call at all times. In this day and age of constant connectivity, do the miles really make a difference? Will a potential client in the Bay Area pass over the most qualified or affordable agency if they’re not in San Francisco? Will a Seattle company be more content with an agency headquartered in Newburyport, MA who has an office down I-5 in Portland?

Matter is the second bi-coastal agency on my resume and I’ve seen the time zone bias play on numerous occasions. But with that, I’ve also been on a 7AM call with European contacts. The work gets done, clients are happy and we’ll occasionally get a good night’s rest!

When it’s all said and done, I think the experience, willingness to adjust and success of a company should be the ultimate measure of a deal. Hey, there’s always a seat on the red eye if the clients back east want to thank you for your work in person!

There are so many opportunities out there to increase the success of your campaign, but to a PR professional “home” is wherever you can connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot. We can make it happen on the road during a trade show, in the office or on the couch at midnight. If the opportunity to develop a communications plan for a company outside of your city limits arises, reinforce the quality of work rather than your ability to take them out to lunch!

Seth Buchwalter, Senior Account Executive, Portland, OR