Could Advertising and Public Relations Save West Virginia

By: Desirae Lindow

The advertising and public relations (Ad/PR) industry in the United States is expected to grow rapidly over the next five years and is expected to surpass $630 billion U.S. dollars in 2024 (Guttmann). Not only is this industry growing, but it also has a positive impact on the economy. “Advertising contributes to wider economic growth through its ability to support competitiveness. It provides consumers with information on products and services and helps to increase their choice of goods and services” (Deloitte). 

Could Ad/PR save West Virginia? West Virginia has a history of economic hardships due to prominent industries relying on natural resources. According to CNBC, in 2017, West Virginia was named the worst state for business with the lowest ranked economy, one of the lowest ranking workforces at No. 49, and was one of only seven economies that had a decline in state GDP (Cohn 2017).  Due to West Virginia’s economic hardships, it’s not a desirable location for large businesses, making the success of small businesses essential. 

According to U.S. Bank, “78% of small businesses fail because they lack a well-developed business & marketing plan. Unfortunately, too many businesses don’t have the time, marketing expertise or analytic skills,” (Why Small Business Marketing Fails So Often). Growing up in West Virginia, there are many small businesses I have grown to love, but I don’t see them reaching their full potential. I believe that Ad/PR could save West Virginia’s economy through creating brands that consumers can identify with and become loyal to; however, it can be difficult to market towards consumers in rural areas because they are psychographically and demographically unique. 

In an effort to better understand this audience it’s important to respect them and their locality. According to research by ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, “96 percent of rural Americans feel that small-town innovation deserves more recognition, and 87 percent said they would rather support a small, local brand than a tech giant or conglomerate” (Comcowich). This shows how important small businesses are to rural Americans, and it should serve as a stepping stone to success. When I think about successful small businesses in West Virginia, it’s always the ones that have the best Ad/PR efforts that come to mind: Poky Dot, Peace Love and Little Donuts, Pies & Pints, Tip Top Coffee, etc. If Ad/PR were more prevalent in West Virginia to support local businesses, they would have the ability to flourish.

I want to see Ad/PR save West Virginia. I’m tired of seeing the state I grew up in fail, and I’m ready to see small businesses succeed. I’m ready to see this state have major Ad/PR firms, grants for Ad/PR students to assist with campaigns for small businesses, and offer opportunities for small businesses to learn about the significant impact Ad/PR can have on their brand. It’s past time to save West Virginia, but it’s my belief that Ad/PR will play a crucial role in doing so. 

Works Cited

Cohn, Scott. “In an Economic Death Spiral: West Virginia Is America’s Worst State for Business in 2017.” CNBC, CNBC, 12 July 2017, 

Comcowich, William. “How PR and Marketing Can Reach & Influence Rural America.”, 11 June 2018, 

“Did You Know That Every Euro Spent on Advertising Powers a Seven-Fold Boost to the Economy? That Advertising Encourages Innovation, Supports Employment and Helps Fund Vital Services?” Value of Advertising, Deloitte,,choice%20of%20goods%20and%20services

Guttmann, A. Topic: Global Advertising Market.,526%20billion%20dollars%20in%202023.&text=On%20a%20global%20scale%2C%20ad,percent%20in%20the%20measured%20period

“Why Small Business Marketing Fails So Often.” Sales Renewal, 29 Oct. 2020,,that%20leads%20to%20successful%20growth.

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