When searching for a job in public relations, St. Louis is probably not at the top of your list. Often overshadowed by nearby Chicago, St. Louis is truly more than “flyover country” and has much to offer both young and seasoned professionals. It’s more than the home of America’s largest monument, the Gateway Arch, or the 11-time World Series champions, the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s more than the birthplace of Anheuser-Busch and Sweetie Pie’s, and famous greats like Joseph Pulitzer, Maya Angelou, T.S. Eliot, Max Factor, Tina Turner, Chuck Berry, Yogi Berra — and more recently, Jon Hamm, Jack Dorsey, Rusty Wallace, Nelly, Kimora Lee Simmons, Karlie Kloss. It’s so much more!
Some pertinent points to ponder about the greater St. Louis metropolitan area:
- The second largest global public relations agency, Weber Shandwick, has a flourishing office here.
- FleishmanHillard, the third largest global public relations agency, is headquartered here.
- PRSA St. Louis hosted the largest PRSA Midwest District Conference in recent history (in 2015).
- We have a growing — and nationally recognized — technology startup community.
- Nine Forbes Fortune 500 companies call St. Louis home. Some of the Fortune 1000 companies include Energizer, Panera Bread Co., Caleres (formerly Brown Shoe), Monsanto, Emerson Electric, Express Scripts, Edward Jones Financial, Centene, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Nestlé Purina, Peabody Energy and Ameren.
- St. Louis hosts a multitude of boutique and specialty agencies specializing in public relations, marketing, advertising, content, digital, visual and social — both B2B and B2C — with global and national clients on their rosters.
- It offers a growing and diverse young professionals community.
- St. Louis has a vibe all its own. Not quite the south, definitely not the north nor east or west coasts, but a Midwestern familiarity and friendliness that’s completely unique.
In an effort to provide helpful insight into the current St. Louis job market, I requested input from a few PRSA members and member companies. In addition, I asked Dave Collett, Weber Shandwick executive vice president and general manager of the St. Louis office and former FleishmanHillard vice president, to offer some additional observations.
What advice do you have for someone trying to break into the St. Louis market?
“[Despite being] one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, the marketing and communications community in St. Louis can be quite cozy and connected. Everyone knows everyone — and friendships abound. As such, there are lots of opportunities to network among professionals — using each meeting to generate the next one. By doing this right, it shouldn’t take long for opportunities to pop up — many times through direct referral.”
I would add that, with nearly 250 members, getting involved in PRSA St. Louis is an excellent way to rapidly expand your network!
What do you think is important for someone moving to this area to know about the culture?
“St. Louis has a sort of modesty that can hide its true size and scale. The adage of a ‘big small town’ is true — and people here really value volunteerism and an individual’s personal commitment to the community. Getting involved with one of the many worthy organizations is a great way to dive into what really makes St. Louis special — and a great way to make lasting personal and professional connections.”
An overall cost of living about 10 percent below the national average (with a significantly lower cost of housing) and a multitude of free (or inexpensive) entertainment, historical and arts-related venues make St. Louis an affordable place to live, work and play!
Tressa Robbins is implementation vice president at BurrellesLuce where she works with major accounts to ensure successful onboarding and perform web portal training on media monitoring, media outreach, social media and reporting/analytics. She is the technology director for PRSA St. Louis (and past president), Professional Adviser to the PRSSA Chapter at Southeast Missouri State University and a proud Champion for PRSSA. Robbins was a speaker at the PRSSA 2016 National Conference and speaks at various local and regional industry-related events. Find Tressa on LinkedIn or connect with her on Twitter @tressalynne.