Bristol, often dubbed the UK’s ‘hidden gem’ of technology, has quietly fostered a burgeoning tech ecosystem. With its combination of historic charm and cutting-edge innovation, the city is poised for greatness.

However, an entrenched modesty often undermines its potential. To truly compete on the global stage, Bristol’s tech scene must be bolder in its message and embrace assertive PR and communications strategies to amplify its capabilities – and successes.

So, how can Bristol’s tech innovators highlight their roles as trailblazers and demonstrate that they are truly shaping the future of tech?

The quiet revolution

Bristol’s tech industry is far from insignificant. Tech companies account for 36% of the city’s high-growth businesses. It is home to some 216 tech startups and scaleups employing over 10,000 people and reported a combined turnover of £223m in their latest financials.

Bristol and Bath’s tech ecosystem is worth £1.7bn, is home to three unicorns (a statistic only beat by London) and has raised £2.08bn as it seeks to compete with other growing regional tech hubs. In 2021 Bristol, in conjunction with Bath, was recognised as the third largest hub for tech investment in the UK​. This ranking is based on the substantial amount of venture capital raised by tech companies in the area, highlighting its prominence in the national tech landscape.

There is also a thriving demand for tech talent, with Bristol recently being named the UK’s fourth-best city for tech recruitment.

Yet, the cultural characteristics of Bristol side with humility and modesty. It’s a city that’s built its reputation by living within the counterculture. Music, art, hospitality, Bristol has always done things differently.

But when it comes to its dynamic and rapidly evolving tech landscape, this modest approach can prevent accomplishments from reaching a wider audience. In a world where perception shapes reality, underplaying its achievements can limit opportunities for investment, talent acquisition, and collaborative ventures.

So, what tools and tactics should Bristol’s tech pioneers be focusing on?

Telling compelling stories

Narratives have proven to be more memorable and persuasive than facts alone.

The art of storytelling is an effective way to help audiences connect with a brand. Stories about Bristol’s heritage, tradition and a focus on the characteristics that make operating a tech company in the city unique, combined with cutting-edge technological innovation create a compelling narrative that distinguishes the city and its vibrant tech ecosystem.

Highlight the people behind the technology. Personal stories of founders, developers, and employees can create emotional connections and make the innovations more relatable. For instance, showcasing a developer’s journey from a local university to leading a groundbreaking project are powerful. Tell stories that highlight challenges, solutions, and impacts, making the narrative relatable and engaging.

Use case studies and success stories to illustrate how Bristol’s tech companies solve real-world problems. For example, Bristol-based tech start-up, Ensilitech’s technology aims to solve the problem of more than 50% of vaccines worldwide wasted, largely due to failures in cold chain transport and storage. HealthHubble’s core search engine & directory breaks down the typical barriers to self-funded healthcare, making it easier for people to find and contact health and wellness providers throughout the UK. 

Providing Bristol’s tech leaders a platform to be thought leaders by penning articles or giving interviews on topical industry trends. Share insights on emerging technologies, industry challenges, or future predictions.

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Build a strong employer brand

The global tech industry is fiercely competitive, with top talent seeking not just lucrative salaries but vibrant, innovative work environments.

An employer brand relies on clear and consistent messaging that communicates the unique value proposition of the organisation. It should be reflected across all platforms and communications, including the website, social channels, media communications, forums, videos and images. It reinforces what sets one brand apart from another.

It’s vital now to evidence how an organisation cultivates a strong culture and work environment, while offering competitive salaries. Platforms such as LinkedIn and X are particularly effective for reaching a professional audience. Whilst creating engaging videos and photos, such as behind-the-scenes videos or live Q&A sessions with founders, can increase visibility and engagement on channels such as Instagram or TikTok.

It is also becoming more crucial for organisations to publicly support and engage in social, environmental, or political causes. This involves clearly articulating values and taking concrete actions that align with these values, thereby showing dedication to making a positive impact in society. Such actions help build trust and credibility with potential employees who value ethical and purpose-driven behaviour.

Manage online reputations

Actively share positive news, updates, and user-generated content to build a positive online presence. Blog posts, press releases, and social media updates about achievements, innovations, and community involvement can enhance the company’s image.

Encourage satisfied customers to share their experiences online, providing authentic testimonials that bolster the company’s reputation.

Be prepared to counter any negative feedback, reviews or press attention by developing a crisis management plan to address potential issues swiftly and effectively. This plan should include predefined responses, key messaging, and designated spokespersons. A well-prepared response can mitigate damage and restore confidence in the company.

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Foster collaboration

Facilitate partnerships with other tech companies, the wider Bristol community or industry associations, and universities. Being strategic about who to partner with showcases a brand’s credibility, authority and commitment to the success and growth of Bristol’s tech hub.

Partnerships can create additional platforms to showcase business expertise and authority. Create co-branded content with partners, and engage in cross-promotional opportunities, leveraging the power of this third-party endorsement whilst benefiting from the reach and influence of the partner’s network.

These collaborations can lead to groundbreaking innovations and open doors to expanded markets. They can help to reach a broader audience of potential investors who are drawn to success stories, thought leaders, and those seen as trailblazers.

The future is bright

The tendency towards modesty may be culturally ingrained, but it is not insurmountable.

Bristol has all the ingredients of a leading tech hub: a skilled workforce, a collaborative ecosystem, and a culture of innovation. However, to fully realise this potential, the city’s tech companies must confidently showcase their achievements.

The time has come for Bristol’s tech sector to stop being modest and start telling the world its story. The benefits of doing so – ranging from increased investment to a more vibrant tech community – are too significant to ignore. 

Bristol is not just a great place to live; it’s a great place to innovate. It’s time everyone knew.

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