West Midlands ICT Cluster

The West Midlands ICT Cluster represents the interests of the West Midlands’ ICT business community together with those organisations which can provide a range of support services to the ICT sector.  It funds a number of projects to encourage innovation by technology companies and also the adoption of ICT by non technical companies. As an IT PR agency based in the Midlands we were well placed to generate awareness of the ICT Cluster as we understand both technology and the regional media.

Issues

The West Midlands has traditionally been a manufacturing led region. However, while the manufacturing base is declining, the region is looking for new opportunities to provide growth and prosperity to the region.

Challenge

The West Midlands ICT Cluster, which is funded by Advantage West Midlands, has run the annual ICT Conference and ICT Excellence Awards since 2005.  Each year it aims to attract delegates and award entrants.  As the event and awards are aimed at SMEs, it is often difficult to get them to commit to spending time away from the office for the conference or dedicate time to enter the awards. In 2008, the aim of the conference was to attract over 400 delegates and increase the award entries by 50%.

We have achieved coverage across the region for the West Midlands ICT Cluster including in the following publications and broadcast media:

Birmingham Mail logo       BBC Midlands Today logo

Hereford Times logo

Birmingham Post logo

Worcester News logo

Insider.jpg The Sentinel logo

Express and Star logo

Solihull Times logo

Solihull News logo

Coventry Telegraph logo

Campaign

Vitis PR conducted a public relations campaign which aimed to demonstrate what value the awards had brought to previous winners and also why the conference was a must attend technology networking event in the region.

The campaign was multi-pronged and worked to build credibility for the organisation. Through previous award winner case studies which gave information on how 2007 winners had used their award wins for marketing purposes, Vitis Public Relations was able to reach out to regional print and online media. editors and ensured that each case study press release had a local angle to it to ensure media coverage.

To raise the ICT Cluster’s profile in the run up to the conference, Vitis PR also targeted The Birmingham Mail with a regular monthly column for SMEs that were looking to adopt ICT or technology focused SMEs that were looking for advice.  Vitis PR secured regional media sponsorship of the awards from the Birmingham Mail to complement The Daily Telegraph‘s national sponsorship.  Vitis PR worked with the Birmingham Post to secure a double page spread on the conference and awards and distribution of the newspaper at the event.  The public relations consultancy also set up meetings and calls with regional business editors to introduce the ICT Cluster manager to them.

Results

  • There was a 73% increase in award entries in 2008 (compared to 2007) with a total of 29 shortlisted companies.
  • Final conference attendees were 420.
  • Media coverage appeared in all regional newspapers including Coventry Telegraph, Express and Star, The Sentinel, Solihull News, Solihull Times, Hereford Times and the Worcester News.
  • A BBC Midlands crew came to film some of the innovative companies which were exhibiting at the conference.

What the ICT Cluster says about Vitis PR:

“Vitis PR has been involved with the ICT Cluster since late summer of 2006 and was brought in at very short notice to generate some PR for the ICT Cluster Conference and Awards. Vitis PR’s responses and reach of articles were very impressive and enabled the Cluster to promote itself around the region in a way not previously done.

Vitis PR has worked with us ever since. Her knowledge, efforts and contacts continue to result in articles reaching the regional press and are enabling us to build quite a collection of printed articles and links on the soon to be released new cluster website.”

Lynne Wroe, Regional ICT Co-ordinator | Business Link West Midlands I West Midlands ICT Cluster