Published on April 3, 2017, at 8:17 a.m.
by Julia Cione.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the opportunities. Whether it’s the portion sizes of food or its booming economy, Texas lives large in all areas of life — including the public relations industry.
According to Forbes’ Best Places for Business and Careers, Dallas ranks 10th and Austin ranks 11th, respectively. With 4.7 million people in Dallas and 2 million people in Austin, the cities are filled with a vast amount of careers that expand across every industry.
Rebecca Winter, public relations consultant for a technology company in Dallas, has been in the PR industry for 20 years. With experience on both the agency side and large corporations, for the past 10 years, she’s practiced PR in Dallas.
“I always say I got to Dallas as quickly as I could. I love living here. And on top of it, the weather is great,” said Winter.
Considering the vast amount of public relations job opportunities and advantages the state’s cities give to an individual, it would be silly to discount Dallas and Austin specifically. Take a look at these categories in which Texas cities thrive:
Corporate or agency — You name it, we have it
FleishmanHillard, Edelman, Richards Partners, Pierpont Communications, SPM Communications and Crosswind Media & Public Relations are just a few of the top-notch PR agencies with locations across the state.
Texas is tied for second in number of Fortune 500 companies. AT&T Inc., Southwest Airlines, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Valero Energy and The American Heart Association are just a few of large companies headquartered or based in Texas.
“One of the things that is exciting, in terms of PR, that people in other industries don’t get to do is we can easily work across different fields,” Winter said. “I went from high tech to retail then back to high tech. There are few professions that give you the opportunity to work across so many different types of industries, and it’s exciting and fun to try new things. Plus, every industry needs PR to compete in the environment here in Dallas.”
Austin is a place with a huge emphasis on music in the city. Sheila Kenny, owner of Right On! PR, has lived in Austin for nine years and works for the entertainment industry.
“Sixteen years ago, I started as an intern at a publicity company in NYC whose specialty was promoting alternative bands,” Kenny said. “I have worked as press agent for bands, music festivals, comedy festivals and currently have a lot of comedians on my roster.”
When asked which side of public relations Winter would recommend (either corporate communications or agency), she said, “Both are great settings for people looking to get into PR in Dallas. I started on the agency side early in my career and would 100 percent do it again. Right off the bat you’re exposed to a lot of different companies and ways to do PR with the various clients, results and ways of writing. There’s lots of young professionals there, so I learn from them as they learn from us. But on the other hand, especially in Dallas, companies like AT&T have tremendous PR teams.”
In both Dallas and Austin, the infrastructure is widening. Lanes are being added to roads because of the explosive expansion in terms of population and business establishments.
“Dallas has a booming economy. Since I’ve been here I’ve seen the industry grow immensely with lots of companies moving here. There are lots of corporate headquarters here and a range of them too, which is a great opportunity because you get to speak with professionals across different industries,” said Winter.
As a PR agent, Kenny believes Austin doesn’t differ much from other cities such as New York City or Chicago.
“A publicist really can work from anywhere as long as there is a phone line and Wi-Fi,” Kenny explained. “However, it’s important to be part of the community wherever you live and also to have relationships with industry in other major markets.”
This working from home trend has become popular in every state when it comes to practicing PR.
“More people than ever are working remotely, and you don’t need to be in NYC or LA to be cutting-edge. Dallas is amazing for that,” said Winter.
Unity among diverse backgrounds
One thing all Texans hold central to their hearts is their love for the place in which they live. Texans love Texas. It’s hard to understand as an outsider, but once you live there you’ll understand.
“When you look at the coasts, Dallas is in the midwest belt of the big-hearted people,” Winter noted. “A lot of professionals here are generous of heart, open and interested in supporting young professionals. And unlike other places I’ve lived, I’ve met people here that are more open to shepherding and guiding young people.”
The unity of this supportive character of Texans expands to all cities, but you’ll never meet the same type of person.
Kenny said, “Austin is an incredible city. It’s beautiful; there is live music every night of the week, plus a huge variety of fun things to do. The city has a very lively and supportive community of entertainment professionals.”
New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C. are known for their endless opportunities but also for their insanely expensive living costs. This is not the case in Dallas and Austin.
“Benefits of living in Austin include a lower cost of living, and that at least a couple of times a year, you are likely to have your clients tour through Austin,” said Kenny.
If your salary remained the same living in Austin compared to New York City, you’d live a lot more comfortably in Austin and still get the big city feel.
“I’ve lived coast to coast, such as the LA area, and those are incredibly expensive places to live,” Winter said. “Dallas gives you that big city feel that those east and west coast cities give you like huge sports teams, big concerts, and a constantly growing economy, but you don’t have to pay those crazy prices to live here.”
As young professionals, of course we want to land the best gig possible. But for many, when weighing out the pros and cons of moving to cities with high living costs, some toss those opportunities out the window.
Winter said, “I’m not in the business of predicting, but Dallas and Austin have a lot of companies moving there. And I mean why not? It’s a great quality of life and affordable, which is reason to believe in opportunity for growth in the coming years.”
In Dallas alone, the city contains top-level universities like University of North Texas at Dallas, Southern Methodist University and Texas Christian University, all of which have incredible PR programs. The city of Austin is home to the University of Texas at Austin, a top 20 U.S. public university according to U.S. News & World Report.
“We have several universities here. From SMU to TCU, college graduates are coming out of great PR programs so there’s a great energy of up-and-coming young professionals,” said Winter.
If you’re looking to get a job and your MBA part time, these cities are perfect for that. Many companies are willing to give financial support while you work and get your degree part time.
So, did you drink the Kool-Aid? As you can see, Texas is a “can’t say no to” state. You simply can’t beat the lively environment, friendly professionals, booming economy and affordable cost of living.
You may hear people say Don’t mess with Texas, but I say mess with it. The opportunities are endless in places like Dallas and Austin.