Doing PR in Pittsburgh – Tim O’Brien

posted on October 26th 2015 in Blog with 0 Comments

Submitted by Tim O’Brien / O’Brien Communications

From its own special language, Pittsburghese, to an exceptional pride in its sports teams and a yellow ”terrible” towel, Pittsburgh is unique.  With this in mind, doing PR in Pittsburgh carries with it some very region-specific challenges and characteristics.  Here are ten:

  1. Unless it’s Steelers-related, never plan an event on Steelers’ game day. I’ve been told that the best time to do your grocery shopping in Pittsburgh and avoid the crowds is when the Steelers are playing. If you want to verify, just ask all of the people who’ve done this – both of them.
  2. If you live in Pittsburgh and you meet someone from Pittsburgh, chances are you know someone who knows that person. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon has nothing on three-degrees of Pittsburgh.
  3. When planning an outdoor event have a tent. It rains here. A lot.
  4. Business news matters most when it involves jobs. Ever since the decline of Big Steel in the region nothing matters in business news more to Pittsburghers than new jobs, saved jobs and lost jobs.
  5. Nothing newsworthy happens after 6 p.m. That’s when the next day’s news deadlines hit. Unless it’s a shooting, a car accident, a fire, a broken water main, or a shouting match at a school board meeting.
  6. Pittsburgh media are more likely to travel 39 miles to Portersville than 39 miles to Steubenville for a story. State lines are an issue sometimes. This has more to do with “media market” boundaries than distance.
  7. If you want to be interviewed for a “people-on-the-street” interview, go to Market Square. That seems to be the place where TV crews have questions for you.
  8. Pittsburghers don’t just embrace you, they take pride in ownership.  Just ask Primanti’s or A.J. Burnett.
  9. As a writer, it’s important to know that even beyond Pittsburghese, our formal names aren’t pronounced always the same as other places.  North Versailles is pronounced (Ver-sales) not the way the French originally intended (Vair-sai).  And it can be important to know that one person’s Washington’s Landing is another person’s Herr’s Island.
  10. Steelers’ players are “news” 24/7, 365. That also applies to Pittsburgh Penguin Sydney Crosby, Pittsburgh Pirate Andrew McCutchen, and an increasing number of Penguins, Pirates and former Steelers’ players, too.

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