Alabama – Where Hospitality Meets Hustle

June 19 2024

Faces and Markets of PRGN is a new series of blog posts in 2024 that puts PRGN member agencies and their markets in the spotlight.

Each week, expect to read about a market from an economic, business and communications point of view, brought to you by the very people living and working on the ground in that country, state or region.

The blog pieces illustrate the vast amount of in-depth knowledge of business, media, communications and marketing PRGN brings together having presence in more than 40 countries and 70 cities on six continents through its member agencies globally.

In this week’s blog post, Louise Oliver, APR, President of PERITUS Public Relations, describes the business and communications environment in Alabama and offers advice to businesses navigating her home market.

Alabama business environment

Alabama is well-known for many cultural stereotypes, but those lucky enough to grow roots here know it’s a best kept secret with an affordable quality of life surrounded by deep community engagement, outdoor recreational treasures, an emerging innovation sector and iconic Southern hospitality. Yes, you may be surprised to learn that Alabama is more than meets the eye.

Birmingham Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama | By Designpics

Praised for its business-friendly regulations, Alabama ranks sixth overall for business friendliness in the U.S. and is among the top 10 states for fostering a competitive labor environment. As the number one state for manufacturing, Alabama is home to more than 425 foreign-based companies from over 30 nations, and major international companies in the aerospace and auto industries including Airbus, Boeing, Mazda, Toyota, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz. But Alabama’s legacy is richer than manufacturing and agriculture. Innovate Alabama (proudly a Peritus client) is helping lead the charge to modernize the state’s economy by bringing together private sector leaders and Alabama’s highest-ranking elected officials to drive innovation, entrepreneurship and technology throughout the state.

You may know Alabama’s contributions like George Washington Carver’s peanut inventions and the Saturn V rocket that put man on the moon, but every day Alabamians are continuing to develop world-changing research and technology thanks to concerted efforts by Innovate Alabama and its partners like the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.

As the fourth ranked U.S. state for its rich biodiversity, Alabama is also an emerging destination for outdoor recreation. Alabama is not just a place to grow a business, but is a destination for jump-starting new business ventures for folks looking for value and quality of life beyond the almighty dollar. We don’t want to be the next Silicon Valley—we want to be the best version of ourselves, because Alabama is a great place to build a business and a life.

Each of the core regions below offers its own distinct blend of cultural, social and economic values that makes Alabama a great place to call home and do purposeful work.

Central Alabama: From its industrial roots, Birmingham is evolving into a tech and innovation hub with expanding startups like Shipt choosing to relocate its national headquarters to the “Magic City.” Montgomery, the state capital, is home to Hyundai’s manufacturing facility. Both Birmingham and Montgomery are iconic international destinations for civil rights tourism.

North Alabama: The city of Huntsville is renowned for its ties to the federal government with defense contracting, aerospace industry and NASA presence. In 2022-2023, Huntsville was ranked as the No. 1 U.S. City to live in by U.S. News & World Report or the city’s thriving job market, low cost of living and high quality of life. With an incredibly skilled and educated workforce, “The Rocket City” boasts one of the highest PhDs per capita in the United States. In recent years, Huntsville has dedicated significant resources to leveling up the region’s cultural and lifestyle offerings, introducing new music venues, and launching a new music festival coming September 2024 by the planners of Austin City Limits.

East Alabama: The Eastern portion of the state is an outdoor recreation hub centered around key outdoor anchors including the Pinhoti Trail, which rests at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and may one day become the Southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, as well as the Chief Ladiga Trail connecting Alabama to its Eastern neighbor, Georgia, through a Rails-to-Trails program.

Coastal Alabama: On the Gulf Coast, the Port of Mobile is a key economic player for Alabama by connecting the region to global trade networks. Mobile, the original birthplace of Mardi Gras, is also the proud home to international employers in shipping and aerospace including Austal USA and Airbus. Tourism and outdoor recreation assets provide a robust economic engine along Alabama’s beach communities which brings an estimated 8 million visitors and an approximate $7.3 billion in economic impact to the state.

Black Belt Region: The Black Belt region of Alabama is a distinctive geographic and cultural area that stretches across the central part of the state, characterized by its dark, fertile soil. Historically, it was primarily agricultural, but today, faces various socioeconomic challenges and educational disparities. Despite that, efforts are underway to revitalize the Black Belt region through economic development initiatives, community empowerment programs, and cultural preservation efforts. These initiatives aim to address systemic issues and promote equity and opportunity for all residents of the area.

Alabama communications, media and PR landscape

Fragmented Media Landscape: The media landscape in Alabama has continued evolving to less reliance on traditional news media with print newspapers drying up and a rise in digital consumption. As a largely rural and politically conservative state, Alabama is also home to small-town newspapers that directly target a significant Republican voter base.

Communications Agency Talent: With a metro population of only 1.1 million, the City of Birmingham punches above its weight with robust communications agency talent helping Alabama businesses. The Magic City is home to 13+ agencies ranging from large ad and creative firms with 50-100+ employees to small and mid-sized traditional public relations agencies.

Nationally Acclaimed College and HBCU Network: Alabama is the proud home to top-tier higher-education institutions and the largest network of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the country. Alabama is also home to more Historically Black Community Colleges (HBCCs) and HBCUs than any other state. Alabama’s 24 community and technical colleges add $6.6 billion to the economy, supporting one out of every 27 jobs in the state.

Peritus PR market expertise

Peritus PR is an Alabama-based communications firm dedicated to providing strategic counsel when the stakes are high. Whether advising clients during a crisis, advocating for policies and issues that move our region forward or amplifying authentic stories, we guide our clients to help them navigate the best path forward through communications. Our core specialties are:


  • Media, Crisis & Messaging Training
  • Strategic Planning
  • Crisis Management


  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Policy Campaigns
  • Issue Management


  • Media Storytelling
  • Internal Communications
  • Executive Positioning

Top advice for foreign companies looking to navigate the communications environment in Alabama 

Highlight collective culture: In Alabama, communication emphasizes the cultural values of family and community bonds, deeply rooted in residents’ lives. Messaging should prioritize connection, reflecting Alabamians’ deep sense of pride in tradition and engagement for those who enjoy affordable but meaningful community experiences. Even Alabamians who challenge the state’s status quo are eager to share why they love Alabama.

Emphasize potential and progress: Alabama’s narrative highlights its untapped potential and ongoing progress. The state celebrates its growth and attracts major corporations and innovators looking to build businesses and improve their quality of life, setting the stage for future success. Messaging shouldn’t gloss over Alabama’s past but emphasize the driving force of our public and private entities creating opportunities for all Alabamians. For young people and emerging professionals, Alabama is a place where you can quickly make a name for yourself and drive meaningful impact without losing steam.

Meet people where they are: Acknowledging Alabama’s diverse communities, messaging must resonate with residents on a local level in metropolitan and urban communities. By incorporating their voices, messages can better reflect their perspectives and aspirations, fostering a sense of authentic ownership in moving the state forward. Alabamians are generally skeptical of external influences because we’re self-aware about how we’re perceived around the world and want to be seen for who we really are, not a caricature.

Alabama’s cultural significance 

Southern Hospitality: Alabamians love to feel connected to one another and have a deep sense of pride in tradition, family focus and engagement.

Civil Rights History: The state has a deep historical significance with landmarks across Alabama that played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. The tradition of organizing and grassroots advocacy remains strong today with contemporary social issues.

College Sports Ecosystem: There is a fervent college sports culture, especially football, with passionate fan bases rallying behind institutions like The University of Alabama and Auburn University.

Civil Discourse: Alabama is known for its conservative politics, with values often reflecting traditional Southern beliefs. However, civil discourse is the norm here, and apathy is not in our vocabulary.

Outdoor Recreation & Biodiversity: Alabama’s diverse geography, from white sand beaches to rugged mountains, offers abundant outdoor recreation opportunities, ranking fourth nationally in the U.S. for its high biodiversity.

Alabama’s most influential media for consumer communication

  • (Alabama Media Group): Alabama Media Group hosts content from Alabama newspapers in Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile with comprehensive coverage of local and state news. It also operates a lifestyle brand, “This is Alabama,” sharing favorite places and pastimes across Alabama with a large online and social presence.
  • Montgomery Advertiser: Owned by Gannett, this is the daily online and print news publication for the state’s capital city in Montgomery.
  • Tuscaloosa News: Also owned by Gannett, this is the daily online and print news publication for Tuscaloosa and the West Alabama community.
  • Alabama Public Radio: A network of public radio stations that primarily serves the western half of the state.
  • Alabama TV Stations: Major broadcast networks across the state serving as affiliates for NBC, ABC, FOX and CBS.
  • Bham Now/Bama Buzz: Modern lifestyle outlet geared toward a Millennial and Gen-Z audience with significant online presence.

Alabama’s most influential media for corporate communications (B2B)

  • Business Alabama: Online and print publication (and well-respected podcast) covering business, large and small, in all sectors of the Alabama economy. From emerging technologies to vital manufacturing clusters, and everything in between.
  • Birmingham Business Journal: This online and print publication features the latest breaking business news, updated throughout the day, each week’s top stories, and a variety of local, state and national business newsletters. 
  • Yellowhammer News: A conservative leaning online publication that specializes in political coverage and business news around the state.
  • Alabama Political Reporter focuses on political news and analysis. It is a central source for local and state governmental news. 
  • AlabamaNewsCenter: Digital news outlet sponsored and managed by Alabama Power sharing the stories of the people and businesses powering our state.
  • Made in Alabama: Not a traditional publication, it acts as the Alabama Department of Commerce’s website and features in-depth articles highlighting business, political and innovative updates in Alabama.

Alabama’s most important international events in 2024

Field of Dreams Game 

  • Rickwood Field in Birmingham on June 20, but various events are held throughout the year.
  • The San Francisco Giants will play the St. Louis Cardinals
  • Rickwood Field is the oldest surviving professional baseball park in the United States, with a rich history dating back to 1910.

Hangout Music Festival

  • Gulf Shores, Alabama, on May 17-19, 2024
  • Features a diverse lineup of music genres, including rock, hip-hop, electronic and indie.
  • Known for its beachside setting and laid-back atmosphere, it attracts music lovers from across the country.

Talladega Superspeedway

  • Various events held throughout the year, including the NASCAR Cup Series in April and October.
  • It is one of NASCAR’s most iconic tracks, known for its high speeds and thrilling racing action.
  • The Talladega infield is famous for its party atmosphere

Juneteenth Parades

  • Dates: Normally the weekend prior to Juneteenth
  • Juneteenth commemorates the day when 250,000 slaves in the state of Texas, which became the last bastion for slavery during the final days of the Civil War, were declared free by the U.S. Army
  • Alabama cities host cultural festivals promoting awareness and education resources. 

Sloss Tech

  • Birmingham, Alabama on June 27, 2024
  • The Southeast’s premier tech conference, bringing together the best of today’s tech entrepreneurs
  • Promotes local tech companies and fosters talent through education and professional development opportunities. 

Mardi Gras

  • Mobile, Alabama, on Mar. 5, 2025
  • Mardi Gras is one of the oldest Mardi Gras celebrations in the U.S. dating back to the early 18th century when French settlers founded the city. 
  • The city also hosts numerous masked balls, parades, and elaborate street parties throughout the season.

Alabama by the Numbers*

Population 5.04 million
Languages spoken (official) English, no official state language
Religions Most Alabamians identify as a Christian denomination.
GDP per capita $55,000 (2023)
(Real) GDP growth rate 0.8% (2023)
Inflation rate 3.9% (2023)
Unemployment rate 2.5% (2023)
Key sectors and industries (% of GDP) Agriculture (5.1%), manufacturing industry (16.21%), commercial/food industry/hotels (40.61%) – 2023
Internet users (% of population) 83.8% (2023)
Corporate profit tax 6.5% (2023)
Rate of consumer tax or VAT 8% (2023)
Louise Oliver, APR
President, Peritus PR

Louise Oliver, APR, started Peritus PR to help organizations during high-stakes issues when communications matters. Under her leadership, the firm’s client base and dedicated staff have continued to diversify and grow each year. She received both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in public relations from The University of Alabama; named by PR Week as the nation’s top PR program. Louise has accumulated a wealth of experience and relationships in both policy and public relations. Louise is a previous PRSA Alabama president and has been honored as Birmingham Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 honoree, PR News Top 30 Under 30 Rising Stars of PR and Birmingham Business Alliance’s Young Professional of the Year finalist.

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