Our Projects

Aiken PR

What we do

BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition

The BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) is a world class STEM exhibition attracting entrants from secondary level schools throughout the island of Ireland.


  • To provide a platform for Northern Ireland students to enter their ideas into a competition that has the potential to change their lives
  • To raise awareness of the opportunities that careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics can bring
  • To highlight BT’s investment in fostering home–grown talent in Northern Ireland
  • To encourage the public to experience one of the world’s leading school science and technology events and recognise the talented youth from NI

Research and planning

Aiken defined the target audience, gathered insight and developed an always–on campaign multi–channeled to consistently tell our story. Using secondary research from the Department of Employment and Learning and QUB, we developed clear and concise messages to ensure we reached all target audiences.

Through stakeholder mapping and tracking we identified influential businesses, MLAs and politicians with a vested interest in STEM and who were champions and supporters; which ensured we were targeting the right people, in the right manner and at the right time. We mapped key audiences in terms of their favourability towards STEM, which also included reaching out to relevant media and influential bloggers to achieve maximum impact across digital and traditional media platforms.


Strategy and Tactics

Using our insight and research, we developed the strapline ‘Wake Up to Science’ and developed a multi–faceted campaign identifying the many opportunities that science in its broadest remit offers.

Tactics included:

  • ‘Wake Up to Science’ launch
  • Proactive stakeholder and media engagement
  • Sustained media relations campaign

Aiken PR developed a targeted engagement approach that involved engaging with business, education and technology journalists across digital and traditional media platforms. The campaign ran between June 2014 and January 2015 and included the following activity:

Campaign Launch

  • Coordinated campaign launch stakeholder event at QUB
  • News release was developed to highlight the importance of fostering greater engagement in STEM subjects.
  • Launch photography captured and featured Wellington College students which achieved widespread cut through across national; regional; social media and online press.
  • Briefing packs provided to stakeholders and MLAs to encourage them to engage directly with schools within their constituency; included key messaging to drive social media engagement via #BTYSTE
  • Department of Education Sub Committee attended event; members endorsed the activity which resulted in extensive positive interaction on social media; with tweets and images posted directly from the event using #BTYSTE.
  • Guest speakers included Principal Marie Lindsay from St Mary’s College & NI past student participants to convey transformative experience of being involved in BTYSTE; Education Minister John O’Dowd and Professor Tom Millar, QUB.
  • BTYSTE video was compiled and played at event; video hosted on YouTube and shared across social media platforms to further build awareness.

Wake Up Coffee Mugs

  • Developed and distributed ‘Wake–Up’ branded coffee cups to each Head of ICT/Technology/ Science across NI schools.
  • Factsheet included for teachers and students with reminder about entry deadline.
  • Teachers tweeted out images when they received the cups using #BTYSTE

Media Moments

  • Accommodation grant –news release to announce accommodation grant available to NI students and extra Department of Education funding.
  • Survey – social media survey driven out amongst NI students demonstrating that STEM subjects offer the best career opportunities.
  • Number of entries – PR and photo call featuring Education Minister John O’Dowd alongside NI pupils to convey benefits of BTYSTE in helping schools meet STEM objectives.
  • Qualified projects – news release and photo calls coordinated with participating NI students.
  • Special guest – photo call announcing W5 as one of the special acts at the Exhibition. 

Building & Sustaining Momentum

  • BBC Documentary – Aiken PR pitched and sold in a BBC documentary which will be aired in 2016 and will feature a range of NI students participating in the 2016 BTYSTE exhibition, hosted by mentalist and illusionist David Meade.
  • Leadership article – placed a feature in the Belfast Telegraph to educate teachers, students, businesses and policymakers about the benefits of STEM and to drive footfall to the Exhibition.
  • Irish News competition – to create additional traction we partnered with the Irish News and setup a school competition to run over two week period to drive brand affinity and bolster visibility in lead up to Exhibition. Competition featured in paper and was strongly supported on social media.
  • Social media – developed social media calendar to ensure content was proactive and reactive to engage directly via Twitter/ Facebook with MLAs; politicians and NI schools. This helped build momentum and reach new audiences on a weekly basis. To drive more traffic to the BTYSTE website, we provided links in posts encouraging web traffic to BTYSTE website.

Exhibition Week

  • Interviews during Exhibition Week featured on BBC Newsline NI; BBC Radio Ulster Talkback and Saturday Magazine Show.
  • Eye–catching NI projects identified for press photographers that showcased innovative STEM ideas.
  • Real time updates on social media during the closing ceremony.
  • Winners PR developed and distributed with extensive newspaper and online coverage.
  • All of the NI’s daily papers featured photography and new stories from the exhibition.


  • Sustained PR campaign offered multi audiences to talk about BTYSTE and to encourage participation.
  • Number of school projects increased with fewer schools entering more projects.
  • Schools actively engaged in the BTYSTE website
  • Weekly tweet schedule was implemented driving engagement amongst science teachers and schools. 
  • First ever attendance by BBC NI TV and radio at Exhibition
  • Education Committee attended Exhibition and tweeted out images with students from their local constituencies.
  • Other MLAs attended the event and tweeted out support for Northern Ireland students
  • Business leaders from leading NI STEM businesses attended the exhibition and used various social media feeds to send encouraging and congratulatory messages to all NI participants.
  • Attendance by NI schools at the exhibition increased 13%