High-profile media attendance and coverage for State of Open Con




The challenge

OpenUK is a not-for-profit organisation that represents the UK’s Open Technology sector.

Amanda Brock set the ambitious task of delivering the UK’s first open technology conference. With diversity, equity and inclusion at the heart of the event, she wanted the conference to be unique and more than just a series of  talks about technology. OpenUK aspired for the conference to be like no other, bringing together the open source community and supporting the UK’s technology sector leaders.

At the time, in-person events weren’t quite back to the peak they once were before the pandemic. And with general economic uncertainty and thousands of layoffs, it was a turbulent time for the tech industry. 

These circumstances alone proved challenging, but with less than ten weeks from confirming the venue and conference dates (not to mention a Christmas break in between) through to the actual event taking place, the scope and ambition for the show was huge. Alongside the teams managing logistics, onebite embarked on the formidable task of running the press office for the event.

One additional challenge for this strategy was that a lot of the companies involved did not have fully fledged PR teams themselves, so the media strategy and co-ordination for all the companies involved could fall back on onebite. This was a nice problem to have, but still added considerably to the overall workload.

The thinking

There were three core aims for the media coverage:

  1. To build awareness of the conference itself through pre-event media coverage with relevant trade publications. The aim was to drive attendee registrations and to attract funding via sponsors.
  2. To work closely with conference speakers and sponsors to extract relevant stories around open software, hardware and data. This would lead to potential stories for the media as part of the pre-event and mid-conference promotions.
  3. To secure media attendance at the event. This involved working with individual journalists to connect them with the speakers or companies that were of interest to them for news, features and podcasts.

With more than 120 world-class speakers and 16 sponsor organisations, there were a lot of conflicting priorities, individuals to manage and stories available. What’s more, the programme for the event was constantly shifting with additional speakers and sponsors changing on an almost hourly basis!

The onebite team was mindful that the event was taking place at a time when the tech industry was facing a lot of instability due to economic and business conditions. At the same time, the team was conscious that the sector was still navigating what the best practices for in-person events should be.

The execution

The onebite PR team had to work tirelessly to weave out the most compelling stories, all while juggling internal priorities around sponsors or spokesperson availability. High profile speakers included Camille Stewart Gloster (Deputy National Cyber Director for Technology & Ecosystem), and Anjana Rajan (Assistant National Cyber Director for Technology Security, Office of the National Cyber Director from the White House), as well as Chi Onwurah, Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, and Jimmy Wales, Founder at Wikipedia.

onebite needed to collaborate closely with journalists at both technology trade publications and national business outlets to connect them with the various stories and to help them get the material they needed to create captivating coverage. Each one had their own interests, schedules and requirements, from those that wanted tens of interviews to those that had limited time and resources at the show.

For organisations that took out sponsorship packages, assistance with generating earned media exposure was included, so this was also part of the planning and execution.

The results

onebite was able to secure high-profile attendees at the event, including a number of prestigious national outlets such as The Telegraph, The Evening Standard and the BBC, alongside a range of technology publications and journalists, and several dedicated podcasters and content creators. 

With 48 pieces of media coverage, onebite was able to grow awareness of the event in the build-up and during the conference itself. Many of these articles were in-depth features about the future for open source, including the UK Government’s role in open source and OpenUK’s work on supporting government, business, and education in adopting open principles and open technology. Other highlights included a podcast with BBC Digital Planet and a podcast series on company founders recorded at the event.

Coverage to showcase:

OpenUK – State of Open Con
OpenUK – State of Open Con
OpenUK – State of Open Con

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