Promoting High-Tech Industry Growth in Florida with “Faces of Technology”

Challenge

The Florida High Tech Corridor Council is a regional economic development initiative of the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida and the University of Florida, with a mission to grow high-tech industry and innovation in a 23-county region known as The Corridor.

Curley & Pynn has managed marketing and public relations efforts for The Corridor Council since its inception in 1996. In 2008, we introduced a “Faces of Technology” program to showcase availability of talent in the region for growing companies and to exhibit the availability of viable career opportunities for a highly skilled workforce (our two target publics). Profiles on each of the “Faces of Technology” were included in the organization’s editorial-style magazine and annual report, florida.HIGH.TECH, and we crafted news releases to secure coverage of the honorees in each of the region’s major media markets.

Initially a response to anecdotal research, the program was validated in its first year by findings from Florida’s Innovation Benchmark Study. In the study’s 41 interviews with economic developers, university research officials and private-sector company representatives, “human capital and talent development” was cited most often as a weakness.

In 2018, ten years after the “Faces of Technology” program was introduced, we were challenged to maintain its success in a dynamic environment where competition for talent remained fierce and the influence of traditional print media had waned.

The Strategic Firm® Approach

With a goal to increase the program’s reach and overall awareness of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council across the region, we consulted secondary research about the ways impressions of a community are formed. A study by the Development Counsellors International shows internet research and media coverage were among the top seven ways job seekers found this type of information. We knew from experience that site selectors and hiring managers were also influenced by these mediums.

Equipped with new insight, we set out to accomplish several objectives:

  1. Secure at least three media placements in top regional markets (Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville);
  2. Secure at least three media placements in alumni publications; and, as an indirect result,
  3. Increase total views of the “Faces of Technology” channel on YouTube by 10% from the prior year.

Our focus centered on media coverage as a primary method of communication; since most stories would be published in both print and online editions, we knew they would populate in an internet search.

Curley & Pynn selected the 2018 “Faces of Technology” to represent a diverse sampling of The Corridor Council’s 10 key industries targeted for growth, as well as showcase the diversity of Florida’s population. This dually served as an opportunity to highlight individuals from major media markets who offered a compelling story.

The 2018 “Faces of Technology” were highlighted as part of a two-tiered editorial strategy for florida.HIGH.TECH, which would feature nine individuals in the print and digital editions distributed at the beginning of the year, and three others in a digital-only update published in July, resulting in a total of 12 feature stories.

Once the subjects were identified and their participation in the program secured, our team interviewed each subject for written and video profiles. These were conducted intentionally to highlight the professional’s business and their role in the development of its innovative product or service. We also asked about affiliations with The Corridor’s university partners, whether their company had taken advantage of resources such as research grants or incubator programs, and what they would share with professionals outside the region who aren’t aware of its high-tech activity.

We drafted the written profiles and managed production of each video in-house, including travel to the workplace of every subject for their video shoot. The first nine written profiles and videos were published in florida.HIGH.TECH in February 2018.

To secure media coverage, we drafted a series of news releases tailored for each of the region’s major media markets, in addition to one release featuring all nine “Faces of Technology” for The Corridor Council’s website. This process was repeated again in July, when three additional “Faces of Technology” video profiles were published and the written profiles were added to the digital update of florida.HIGH.TECH.

Results

Curley & Pynn exceeded all objectives:

  1. After the initial launch in February, we secured four placements in top regional markets, including coverage by the Orlando Sentinel, Orlando Business Journal, Tampa Bay Business Journal and Gainesville Sun. We also secured coverage in the Orlando Business Journal and Daytona Beach News-Journal after the update in July.
  2. Six alumni publications covered news about the “Faces of Technology.”
  3. Total views of the “Faces of Technology” channel on YouTube were up 24% from prior year.

In total, the program generated a total 46 placements in traditional and social media, with the potential to reach 36 million readers. This award-winning media relations effort was honored with a Commendation in PRSA’s 2019 Sunshine District Radiance Awards and an FPRA Orlando-Area Chapter Image Award of Distinction.

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