BetaDen: Communicating the Future

Launched in July 2018, BetaDen is Worcestershire’s technology accelerator. The 9-month programme provides a package worth £50k including mentoring, business coaching, networking and office space. Encore was initially appointed to deliver PR for BetaDen between June 2020 and November 2021 – covering two cohorts of founder businesses.

• Increase awareness of BetaDen among the Worcestershire business community;
• Build BetaDen’s profile to aTract talented founders;
• Communicate BetaDen’s success with wider stakeholder groups e.g. politicians, development partners 

and investors. 

With a small budget equating to just over one day per month and an in-house management team of two people, use of resources had to be optimal. Cohort businesses and the technologies being developing were key to telling the BetaDen story so, following an initial ‘getting to know you’ meeting, Encore instigated monthly ‘drop in’ PR clinics to identify stories; adding value by providing media relations advice to help founders pitch their own stories where budgets were maxed out. Distinctive messaging was developed to help BetaDen stand out from the sea of incubators, accelerators and Government R&D programmes. The campaign also needed to communicate why technology innovators should choose BetaDen to develop their technology: why Worcestershire not London, Birmingham or Cheltenham; and why BetaDen over sector-specialist or university-linked providers. A ‘placemaking’ thread weaved through the programme, making a virtue BetaDen’s USPs.

The variety of target media required to reach all stakeholders represented an opportunity and a challenge: Encore had to find ways to bring extremely technical information to life for consumer- and general business press, while demonstrating sufficient technical expertise to identify good stories and secure specialist reporters’ trust. The team’s versatility across a range of sectors came to the fore; identifying what made each technology relevant to different publications and translating messages and technical information to resonate with their audiences.

Tactics included news stories, profiles, interviews, proactive features and providing comment for scheduled features, as well as piggy- backing the wider news agenda with timely, value-add comment. To help BetaDen punch above its weight and become part of industry conversations, Encore also developed a thought leadership thread, creating opportunities for BetaDen’s CEO to discuss the UK’s tech ecosystem and drawing attention to issues (e.g. equity) differentiating BetaDen from its competitors.

The campaign delivered over 150 pieces of media coverage, with a potential readership of over 4.4 million and over 125 social shares. (For context, the population of Malvern is 29,626; Worcestershire 592,158; West Midlands region 2.928 million). Coverage included national newspapers, local newspapers, regional business media, technology and enterprise press, trade publications across 14 sectors, and broadcast interviews as far afield as Cornwall and the Scottish Highlands.

As well as traditional media, Encore developed relationships with trade organisations, tailoring stories to demonstrate why BetaDen was pertinent to them and securing coverage in hard-to-reach-for-non-members newsletters.

The quality of applications to join BetaDen Cohorts 4 and 5 has improved year-on-year, including a European business joining Cohort 4 as a result of coverage in a manufacturing magazine. Cohort founders are also now using media coverage secured through the campaign as part of their investment pitch decks and several businesses have since employed Encore to deliver their communications activities.

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