Nashville, Tennessee – Making Noise in Music City

April 6 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, Lauren Reed Williams, CEO & Founder of REED Public Relations in Nashville, Tennessee, describes the business and communications environment in Nashville and offers advice to businesses navigating her home market.

Business environment in Nashville

Nashville’s rapid growth and diverse economy make it a prime secondary market for business. With a daily population increase of 86 in 2023 and headquarters like HCA, Nissan, VUMC, Amazon, and TikTok, it showcases a strong mix of sectors. The hospitality industry, worth $9.2 billion, highlights its economic vitality, supporting 70,000 jobs. Nashville’s business-friendly climate, absence of state income tax, and support for entrepreneurs, especially women, contribute to its attractiveness as a hub for growth and innovation.

Nashville, Tennesse
Nashville, Tennesse | By Tanner Boriack – Unsplash

Communications, media and PR market in Nashville

Nashville’s PR market is vibrant and growing, reflecting the city’s broader economic expansion and its status as a cultural and business hub. The presence of major industries such as healthcare, music, technology and hospitality allows rich opportunities for partnerships, and Nashville’s unique cultural identity, especially its deep roots in the music industry, offers distinctive opportunities for PR professionals to work on diverse projects, from corporate communications and crisis management to brand building and event promotion. The city’s growth attracts talent and new businesses, making it a competitive but dynamic environment for PR agencies.

Key expertise of REED Public Relations

1. Media & Influencer Relations

2. Marketing Strategy

3. Thought Leadership

4. Brand Filters & Identity 

5. Event Management

Top 3 advice for companies navigating the communications environment in Nashville

1. Understand the cultural and political dynamics of the city, which is often called ‘a blue dot in a red state.’

Nashville’s progressive politics stand out in a largely conservative state, and it’s imperative to pay close attention to current events, lawmakers’ priorities and the ways that local and state elections affect business dealings. In Tennessee, church and state decidedly have little separation. While not all business is political, local politics play a large part in local communications.

2. Learn Nashville’s rich history and watch where the city is headed.

Before there was Music City, there was the Athens of the South. Nashville is a city rich with culture and historical relevance. With the unprecedented increase in business, population and development over the past two decades, it is crucial to learn where Nashville has been to see where it is going.

3. Research the local media landscape and limited coverage bandwidth.

We are fortunate to have many career journalists in Nashville with decades of contextual knowledge and solid reporting under their belts. Relationships are crucial when seeking out valuable earned media coverage, and taking the time to learn media outlets and reporters will be invaluable.

Most influential media for consumer communication in Nashville

  1. Tennessean – Greater Nashville’s major daily
  2. Nashville Scene – Nashville’s alt-weekly
  3. Nashville Guru – An online guide to the city’s best events, happy hours, restaurants, bars, shops and more
  4. WKRN, WSMV, NewsChannel 5 and Fox 17 – Four major greater Nashville broadcast stations
  5. Nashville Lifestyles – Monthly glossy magazine dedicated to restaurants, events, style and entertainment in the greater Nashville area

Most influential media for corporate communications in Nashville

  1. Nashville Business Journal – Nashville’s weekly print and online business outlet
  2. Nashville Post – An online and quarterly print news service covering business, politics and sports in the Nashville metropolitan area
  3. Tennessean – Tennessee’s major daily
  4. Greater Nashville broadcast stations: WKRN, WSMV, NewsChannel 5 and Fox 17
  5. Nashville Banner – Nashville’s locally owned, community-supported civic news organization

Most important international events in Tennessee in 2024

CMA Fest and Bonnaroo – Back-to-back annual summer music festivals that garner more than 170,000 locals and visitors alike annually; CMA Fest began in 1972 and Bonnaroo began in 2002.

Professional sports – Nashville’s growing professional sports presence is punctuated by the hosting of the annual SEC tournament, the premiere of the city’s Nashville Soccer Club and GEODIS Field, and the upcoming construction of a new, state-of-the-art NFL stadium for the Tennessee Titans. 

Steeplechase – A long celebrated annual horse race and fundraiser, Steeplechase is the nation’s oldest, continuously run steeplechasing event, drawing in over 25,000 on race day.

Nashville in Numbers*

Population 727,642 (Davidson County)
Languages spoken English
Religions (% of population) Christian (81%), unaffiliated with any religion (14%), non-Christian faiths (3%)
GDP per capita $52,156.90 in 2022
(Real) GDP growth rate 1.9% (2023)
Inflation rate 3.4% (March 2024)
Unemployment rate 3.5% (March 2024)
Key sectors and industries (% of GDP) Manufacturing, Real Estate and Rental and Leasing, Healthcare and Social Assistance, together represent a combined 41.3% of Tennessee’s GDP (2023)
Mobile penetration (X per 100 people) 62 percent of Nashvillians possess cell phones
Internet users (% of population) 90.9% (2022)
Corporate profit tax 0% (2024)
Rate of consumer tax or VAT 7% (2024)
Lauren Reed Williams
CEO & Founder, REED Public Relations

There was no parachute. When Lauren quit her job as a senior director at a national PR and marketing agency, she jumped without a net. There was no next job lined up. No lucrative book deal signed. No beach villa in St. Tropez waiting for her new life as a trophy wife. Lauren didn’t need any of that. She had faith in herself. Faith that she would stick the landing. No safety net or parachute needed. Within a few weeks – yes, weeks – she’d started REED Public Relations and had a roster of amazing clients. Just like that, the agency was well on its way to making a lasting impact on the Nashville PR scene.

Industry accolades back up Lauren as a rising star. She earned her Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) designation in 2010 and is a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Women Presidents’ Organization, former president of PRSA Nashville and recipient of the PRSA Nashville 2011 Mercury Award, which recognizes the top young PR professional in the Nashville market. Most recently, Lauren was named to the Nashville Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, and its Most Admired CEO list in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022. REED PR has also been named one of the Business Journal’s Best Places to Work, and Lauren has been named to Nashville Post‘s In Charge List in 2021, 2022 an 2023.

Even with all of her awards and the tremendous work she has done, she still says one of her greatest professional accomplishments was creating REED PR’s Be The Good program, which reserves a portion of the agency’s revenue to provide travel grants to individuals who want to do volunteer or mission work at home or abroad.

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