#PRAwards 2021 highlight: How SGInnovate built its reputation in the deep tech scene via storytelling

Taking home the coveted gold award for Best PR campaign: B2B at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's recent PR Awards was SGInnovate. Together with IN.FOM, the company succeeded in imparting knowledge and providing meaningful insights to engage and broaden the deep tech community. Find out how its campaign successfully garnered interest in the subject.

Challenge

SGInnovate believes that deep tech, which is based on scientific research, has the power to change lives. The world has hard problems to solve and "hard tech" answers are needed. Yet, the path that takes deep tech solutions from lab to market is never easy. SGInnovate's mission is to help entrepreneurial scientists build and scale successful startups.

While deep tech is slowly gaining ground, it is but the start of a long journey. According to SGInnovate, more work needs to be done to move the needle on a broader scale and encourage more people to take the road less travelled – as investors, entrepreneurial scientists, ecosystem supporters, and talent, among others.

Its leadership recognises that communications play a critical role in enabling SGInnovate to be the authority synonymous with deep tech in Singapore and the region. Hence, the communications team, along with SGInnovate, decided to bet on a new strategy to power up its storytelling capabilities. Tapping into the vast knowledge network that it has built over the past three years, it opted to produce its own content to help demystify deep tech in a running series called SGInnovate Insights. This then became the blueprint for the stories it told throughout the year.

Strategy

Centred on original, meaningful content that spoke to our stakeholders, the team created the SGInnovate Insights series – a collection of reports and thought-leadership content that examined the most current deep tech topics today. SGInnovate Insights form the backbone of the deep tech stories that the company wants to tell in Singapore and the region.

An integrated communications approach was applied, tapping on a spectrum of communications activities, beyond traditional media, across digital and social channels and community events, as well as partnerships, to reach beyond a niche community to different target audiences.

The key campaign objectives were to:
1. Entrench SGInnovate’s position as a key leader, investor and catalyst in the deep tech space;
2. Deepen conversations with local and regional deep tech ecosystem players;
3. Create sustained awareness on the SGInnovate mission and commitment to add
tangible value to the deep tech ecosystem in Singapore and the region;
4. Galvanise the business and research communities to get involved in the
Singapore’s deep tech ecosystem; and
5. Attract and develop more deep tech talent.

The target audiences included researchers from STEM disciplines, deep tech startup founders and entrepreneurs, investors, industry associations as well as government organisations. 

It had four main campaign strategies, with the first being creating relevant, insights-driven content. The SGInnovate Insights series was launched to sustain conversations revolving around deep tech, from deep tech trends to COVID-19 deep tech solutions, and supply chain digital transformation.

Drawing upon the SGInnovate Insights series, a variety of bite-sized content pieces were developed and amplified across its digital and social media channels – the SGInnovate Blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

The next strategy was to engage the community through direct touchpoints. Community events are a key component of its outreach activities. Hence, the Insights Paper launches were accompanied by panel discussions with experts providing in-depth exchange aligned with the focal areas. When COVID-19 struck, the team moved its events online. It used digital platforms to its advantage for boundless access to global speakers and reach to audiences beyond Singapore.

Meanwhile, it made sure to maximise platforms with consistent messages. The campaign was fully integrated with SGInnovate's marketing, digital, community, and partnership platforms to stretch resources and budgets while ensuring consistency of messages. Content sharing on owned and earned media also helped to further drive the deep tech conversation.

Lastly, it also worked with the right media and ecosystem partners to provide quality insights, by tapping on their network and capabilities. According to SGInnovate, this widened engagements to extend impact beyond the usual deep tech audience and helped us reach out to broad business, talent, investor and industry verticals.

Execution

A multi-pronged, integrated communications approach was adopted to reach out to its target audiences. When it came to content planning and creation, topics were carefully selected to cover deep tech from various perspectives to interest scientists, investors, talent, corporates, and industry players. The content was also always aligned with the latest trending developments.

When COVID-19 hit, it shifted its content focus to explore how deep tech plays a part in the fight against the pandemic and the future world, and to provide the community with useful knowledge and industry trends that they need to navigate the new normal.

sginnovate content planning 1

The SGInnovate Insights Papers are available via gated downloads on the SGInnovate website. Additional content was constantly developed for the SGInnovate blog platform to maximise impact and reach.

Leveraging its partnership, it launched a new video interview series "The Digital Feed" with the UNDP Global Centre for Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Development in Singapore, to discuss the latest developments, trends and insights in agrifood tech space. Similarly, content cuts and excerpts were shared on the SGInnovate blog.

sginnovate owned media

On the community events front, SGInnovate leveraged its strong community network to organise events and panel discussions for the Insight Papers. These provided opportunities for deeper discussions and interactions. Partners or interviewees for the Insights Papers were often tapped on as moderators or speakers during community events.

Consistently planned and packed monthly events were held at SGInnovate venues before pivoting to fully virtual events postCOVID-19 to build and engage the deep tech community in Singapore and beyond. The ability to line up credible speakers to these events also establishes SGInnovate as the authority on deep tech in Singapore.

sginnovate community events

High impact media interviews and byline placements for SGInnovate spokespersons to share insights and viewpoints were garnered for building organic mindshare. The media event and panel discussion held last February before COVID-19 event restrictions, launched SGInnovate’s “Understanding the Science and Technology Talent Landscape in Singapore” study, which was published as part of its talent-focused Insights Paper.

The launch was attended by 10 media and landed 13 stories. Beyond media events, SGInnovate also leveraged key moments throughout the year to continue recording quality stories aligned with SGInnovate Insights eg. on World Food Day, our senior leader spoke on the topic of agrifood tech on live radio.

sginnovate traditional media

LinkedIn was used to scale the SGInnovate Insights content directly to relevant business contacts, while content sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram effectively engaged the community. To extend the reach of community events, the team created #SGInnovateTakeaways, short posts that are easily digestible to highlight key observations and insights shared by industry leaders who spoke at the events.

Recordings of most virtual community eventswere also shared on our YouTube channel. In addition, stories of its deep tech Daredevils, including young talents, were showcased through the #DeepTechinSG series and deep tech founder features.

sginnovate social media

Results

Between 1 December 2019 and 31 December 2020, the team achieved over 1,300 media stories, including front- and cover-page features on The Business Times and Lianhe Zaobao as well as various interviews and bylines on key broadcast and regional media such as CNA, CNA 938, Nikkei Asian Review and DealStreet Asia.

Its posts on the Insights Papers and related content alone generated an average of 1,920,981 social impressions across LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Average organic engagement rates for social media posts related to SGInnovate Insights is at least 2.8 times higher than that of regular posts.

There were also a 141.5% increase in total page views to more than 76,700 on the SGInnovate blog page from 2019 to 2020. This included 19,500 page views on the SG Innovate Insights Papers and blog articles. The Insights Papers had over 1,900 downloads. According to the company, it oragnised over 120 community and virtual events, attracting over 18,000 participants across the deep tech ecosystem.