SETsquared is a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, which specialises in supporting and developing high-tech, high-growth potential start-ups through its incubation programme.
It was previously ranked as the top university business incubator in Europe and second best in the world by UBI Global, whose UBI Index is the first to benchmark the performance and best practice of university business incubators.
When SETsquared was crowned with the global top spot at the most recent rankings, Carswell Gould's PR and social media team was on hand to obtain quality coverage across target media to raise awareness of the announcement.
Research, planning and strategy
Following the announcement, Carswell Gould instantly set about gaining column inches to shout about the ranking, and developed a campaign plan with SETsquared. The campaign centred around two events that also acted as showcases for specially-chosen SETsquared companies:
• The UBI Index announcement on 25 November 2015
• A parliamentary reception at the House of Commons on 4 February 2016
The campaign objectives were to achieve one quality hit of coverage in the national media (including industry publications) and coverage in regional media per each event for each area SETsquared operates in.
To maximise coverage following the global number one announcement, Carswell Gould was in close contact with journalists in a number of industries, from enterprise editors at broadsheets to higher education publications, to regional business and political editors.
SETsquared supports around 260 start-ups at any one time and as well as its university centres, it also runs an innovation hub in Basingstoke. Success with this campaign would put SETsquared in a prime position for further opportunities to work and share best practice with organisations, start-ups and entrepreneurs globally as well as in new regions of the UK.
SETsquared’s original plan was to hold the parliamentary reception with a minister present the following day, but as this would not be possible following the Autumn Statement it was rebooked for February to give a higher chance for take-up. The event on 4 February was attended by Jo Johnson MP, minister for universities and science.
For an extra angle with the media, we tied it into the news that SETsquared companies had raised over £90m of investment in 2015 – the highest amount yet. We used this extra hook to arrange interviews between SETsquared and key journalists as well as inviting broadcast media to meet the companies and film demonstrations.
Carswell Gould used Twitter to invite high-profile guests, such as MPs and Lords, to the event as an opportunity for them to have photos with SETsquared companies and be seen to support UK innovation. We then drafted press releases for these guests to be distributed following the event.
UBI Index announcement
• Total potential coverage reach: 4,210,669
• Coverage in five national and industry titles including The Telegraph and BBC Online
• Regional coverage in all six areas SETsquared operates in
• Tweet announcing the UBI global number one ranking had racked up 983 impressions and received 213 engagements 24 hours after the announcement
• Coverage on a day when the business and financial news was kept busy with the Spending Review and Autumn Statement
House of Commons reception
• Total potential coverage reach: 2,438,111
• National coverage in Times Higher Education
• Regional coverage in every area SETsquared operates in, including on BBC South Today and BBC Oxford
• Attendance from MPs who were invited via Twitter