Pittsburgh, the new Silicon Valley?

First there was Google, now there is Facebook. Just as Google is celebrating their 10th year in their Pittsburgh office, Facebook announced that they will also begin building an office in the Steel City.

Pittsburgh, which has been ranked in the top 60 best places for business and careers by Forbes, is well known for its rich art and culture. However, originally known for its steel and manufacturing industry, (hence the name the Steel City), Pittsburgh is now known for their technology, education, healthcare and financial services industries.

In addition, with close to 35 colleges and universities surrounding the Pittsburgh-area, it’s no wonder these tech giants are attracted to adding the city of Pittsburgh to their office geography, even if the weather can be unpredictable at times.

So why does this matter to the field of public relations and communications? Well, the new Facebook office in Pittsburgh will be dedicated to its Oculus Research virtual reality system, which the company acquired in 2014 for $2 billion.  The virtual reality market, which has seemed like an unusual concept of the future, is already affecting how professionals communicate to their target audiences in marketing campaigns.

An example of virtual reality currently being used is illustrated in the Marriott’s latest campaign, #GetTeleported, according to Holtz. The Marriott is using Oculus Rift technology to transform the travel industry, by using it as part of their campaign to fully immerse consumers in their first-ever virtual travel experience. Even though the campaign is still considered to be in prototype phase, the Marriott is taking full advantage of the virtual reality technology by developing an entire marketing campaign focused around it.

In addition, Slippery Rock University is using virtual reality to allow prospective students to “visit campus” using a computer or smart phone, according to the school’s website.

By connecting consumers through augmented reality, through the creation of realistic holograms, Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Research, will be one piece of advancing technology that those in the Steel City will get to watch develop in their own backyard.  They will be able to have first-hand experience on Facebook’s continuing advancements in communication, especially when it comes to virtual reality technology.

The possibilities are endless and it will be interesting to see what Facebooks success will look like in the next few years.


Amanda Hardt is the Renaissance Awards co-chair for 2016. She currently is the marketing assistant at Schneider Downs and loves to attend PRSA events. In addition, Amanda likes to push her personal boundaries by training for a 50K race in March, but she also likes to relax with a good movie. Feel free to connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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