In the past year we have worked with BT Ireland, organisers of BTYSTE, Europe’s largest STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and. Mathematics) event, to turn the 57th year of the event into a virtual success. The vision of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) is to stimulate a passion for STEM within young people and, in a year that a global pandemic dominated our daily lives, it clearly highlighted how important STEM is and how the BTYSTE could help and support the young people of Ireland by providing a positive outlet and project to work on.
In March 2020, the courageous decision was made to go ahead with the 57th BTYSTE in a virtual format. This was not done lightly and virtualising a tried-and-tested programme of events that had been in operation for 56 years was a major challenge.
A combination of innovation and adaptability ensured that the event retained its special status. It was a true display of the pivotal role technology now plays in our lives and reflective of the resilience displayed across Ireland throughout the pandemic.
Creating a virtual portal, a virtual judging process, a virtual press office and live opening and awards ceremonies were some of the most challenging and interesting aspects of the campaign.
Every element of our communications approach was ‘digital first’; how we ran the event, engaged with students, teachers, parents, media and the public over the course of the twelve-month campaign.
The BTYSTE 2021 was a huge success. Over 1,350 projects were submitted by students from across Ireland with over 550 of these projects qualifying from 213 schools to take part in the event.
The three-day event attracted more people than ever before, with 105,000 unique visitors to the portal from 77 countries, far exceeding our target objectives. Seven million hits were spread across the portal and website; content was accessed from 54,000 devices and over 250,000 minutes of video were watched. The final PR reach for the campaign was 61,060,112.
Media coverage for the entire campaign culminated in 1,246 noteworthy pieces across regional, national and international outlets.
The BTYSTE occurred during a time when Ireland fluctuated between the lowest Covid-19 rate to the fastest growing numbers in Europe, while the media cycle was dominated by lockdown 2.0 and the realisations of Brexit. It was fantastic to bring much-needed, light relief and positivity to homes and media around Ireland.
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