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Welcome to Valley View: PR Buzz in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley. Now I get it and it only took me six years in Bay Area PR.

I was born and raised in Massachusetts. Got my Bachelors at Bentley in Waltham, had all three of my kids there and spent most of my young adult life in and around the Boston area, including my first 8 years at Schwartz MSL.

My first trip to the Bay Area was in 2001 with the CEO of IONA Technologies on a media tour, and though I fell in love with it immediately and would move here less than five years later, I still didn’t really understand what made it unique from a technology, innovation and PR standpoint. The Boston area has MIT, Harvard and many more top universities, along with a host of great VC and private equity firms. The risk appetite tends to be a little lower, with a lot of innovation and investment success focused on medical devices, healthcare IT and technology infrastructure, which has served it well during boom and bust technology cycles.

There are a lot of similarities between the Bay State and Bay Area, including political leanings, great seafood, an innovation economy and a high concentration of brilliant people. But there is one major difference beyond climate: the local celebrity culture.

In Boston, the athletes are our celebrities. When Josh Beckett golfs before missing a start or Kevin Youkilis marries Tom Brady’s sister, it is big news not only in the sports section, but in tabloids, on the airwaves and in the lifestyle section. Bob Lobel, Glenn Ordway, Peter Gammons, Dan Shaughnessy are sports journalists you love or hate. But everyone knows their names.

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In the Bay Area, technologists and VCs are the celebrities. First it was Bill Gates, Jerry Yang, Steve Jobs, Scott McNealy and Larry Ellison. Today, it’s Eric Schmidt, Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Marissa Mayer and Mark Zuckerberg. Everyone knows the names of John Doerr, Paul Graham, Vinod Khosla, Peter Fenton and Marc Andreessen, along with Michael Arrington, Sarah Lacy, Om Malik and Don Clark. In Boston, the minor leagues are in Pawtucket, Providence, Lowell and Portland. In Silicon Valley, they are Y Combinator, HAXLR8R, SVTC and the other accelerators helping technology’s prospects reach the big leagues.

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Boston has Yawkey Way, Gillette and The Garden. The Bay Area has Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley and SOMA. In Massachusetts, Larry Bird could be governor. In California, Meg Whitman tried.

With the launch of this new blog, Valley View, we’re going to periodically offer perspective on big goings on in Silicon Valley, mainly from a PR standpoint but also some free-form posts. We’ll try to get the perspectives of technology industry movers and shakers, industry insiders and journalists on the big things happening here that will impact the rest of the country and the world. We’ll blend people who were born and raised in the Bay Area, and those who bring the perspective of having lived elsewhere.

Can Marissa Mayer turn around Yahoo!? Who will win the patent fight between Apple and Samsung? Will Facebook and Zynga figure out the mobile revenue model? Will a team foolishly claim Beckett on waivers before August 31 and if so, will the Red Sox just let him go?

Okay, maybe that last one doesn’t fit, but you can’t spell parochial without PR.

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Jason Morris

Jason Morris

Executive Vice President at MSLGROUP

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