Branding and Positioning the Florida High Tech Corridor Council

The Challenge: 

Creating national recognition for Florida’s most technology-rich region through a coalition of otherwise natural competitors – three of America’s largest research universities, the University of Central Florida (UCF), the University of South Florida (USF) and the University of Florida (UF) – and branding their economic development initiative to attract, retain and grow high tech industry and the workforce to support it throughout the 23 counties they serve.  Curley & Pynn was charged not only with creating the brand identity and positioning it through broad public relations strategies, but also managing a process to bring together an alliance of competing local economic development partners, community colleges and workforce boards.

The Solution: 

Initially chartered as the “I-4 High Tech Corridor,” the program had outgrown its geographic moniker with the addition of the University of Florida, and needed both regional and national recognition as host to 70 percent of the state’s high tech employment.  Other areas of the state were branding themselves as hotbeds of high tech activity, i.e., South Florida’s “Internet Coast” initiative focusing more on a single area of technology than the Council’s commitment to 10 areas of high tech activity.  The program was saddled with a photographic image taken from the space shuttle – a vision of the region at night showing the brightly lit corridor – as its logo, an illustration that spoke clearly to residents “in the know” but was unlikely to catch the eye of outsiders to whom the Council was marketing the area served by the three universities.  Curley & Pynn recommended a name change from “I-4 High Tech Corridor” to “Florida High Tech Corridor” because the move would position the region as the state’s only high tech corridor. 

Curley & Pynn not only developed a comprehensive strategy that included graphic standards, extensive use of Web technology, print collateral, traditional media outreach targeting national business and trade press, and social media tools, we also partnered with the Maddux Business Report to create an annual magazine devoted to the region that has for 10 years served as a corporate capabilities brochure in editorial format that is used as a broad tool for fulfillment in web-based promotions, direct mail outreach and trade show distribution around the country.

From the outset in 1996, Curley & Pynn admonished competing economic developers, university and community partners to “leave your logo and ego at the door” for the common good of the region.  Creating a graphic standards program that mandates all use of a new logo created for the Council always identifies the three universities speaks to their role in supporting high tech business.  An aggressive marketing communications and public relations program included a totally revamped Web site and advertising in key business and economic development publications. 

We actively track media in 10 key high tech sectors, develop trade show materials from booths to collateral, create an annual theme for advertising, enter key programs managed by the Corridor for awards that generate awareness not only by the nomination, but through publicity and obviously through winning awards from prestigious bodies such as the World Technology Network (www.wtn.net), CoreNet Global (www.corenetglobal.org) and the International Economic Development Council (www.iedconline.org).  Roger Pynn personally helped create that initiative and Curley & Pynn has been intimately involved to the point that we provide all of the management support services in addition to marketing communications and public relations.  Each year we update comprehensive public relations and marketing communications plans for the High Tech Corridor that address:

Brand Development

  • eNewsletters
  • Publications (annual magazine)
  • Strategic use of trade shows
  • Social media outreach
  • Awards & industry recognition
  • Advertising

Publicity & Media Relations

  • National
  • Regional
  • Sector-by-sector trades
  • Research media
  • Academic media

Positioning & Participation

  • Public speaking opportunities
  • Conference & event sponsorships
  • White papers

We have developed several online resources for the FHTCC: 

Web site … www.FloridaHighTech.com (due to undergo a complete design overhaul this year but still generating 14,000 hits a month and THE place you’ll find if you Google florida + high tech, which is the basis of our SEO program since our research showed years ago that was how site selection professionals were doing their searches.)

Virtual Visit … www.VisitTheCorridor.com (unable to afford familiarization trips for writers or site selection consultants to a 23-county region, we built this online “place” where they could send people, and we conduct annual mailings to target audiences as we update it with new content from the partners.  It is a pretty simple graphic platform but we get 1,000 visits per month and local EDO partners report they get traffic from it.)

Social Media … http://www.youtube.com/user/facesoftechnology is our YouTube channel where we promote the people of the region because feedback for EDOs is often that Florida is not perceived to have any high tech community; and you can become a Facebook fan of the Corridor here:http://www.facebook.com/FloridaHighTech, where you’ll see daily posts we push out to the Facebook and Twitter communities.

The Results: 

The Council adopted the new name and a clean, contemporary logo that has been uniformly used since July 2001 on every single piece of collateral, across all pages on the Council’s Web site and on the pages of two ancillary Web sites that market the Council’s main missions … attracting new industry, retaining and growing existing industry, and nurturing the workforce they need.  The graphic identity is also prominent in all Council advertising.  And, the story of the mission and the Council and region’s successes is told through an aggressive public relations program.