Universitas 21 is a global network of leading research universities which aims to encourage international collaboration. It wanted to use a research paper, providing a ranking of the world's tertiary education systems as a platform for debate on the importance of creating a strong national environment for HE, as well as the value of international links to a strong HE system.
It also wanted to raise its own profile as an expert commentator in this area, especially to those who may have limited knowledge of its mission, membership and activities. Communications Management was appointed to deliver a global media relations campaign linked to the launch of its first global ranking of HE systems at the Universitas 21 conference at Lund University, Sweden, on May 11 2012.
Our experience of delivering results with a reasonably small budget led us to focus most closely on 20 key countries to maximise the quality of our results. We developed tailored activity plans and media materials for each of these target countries, using our experience of English-language international media (there was no budget for any translations) and our network of international associates' contacts to ensure the maximum impact, in the HE sector specifically in our target markets.
Our strategy also included the use of social and digital media to generate awareness of the research and Universitas 21.
The initial target of 120 pieces of international coverage was exceeded very considerably with 400 pieces of international coverage being achieved at the time when the post launch monitoring ended.
This included media coverage, in: BBC News, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Nature, The Guardian, The Times, Financial Times, and major news outlets in India, Australia, Canada, Japan, Ireland, Singapore, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Israel, Vietnam, Denmark, Ukraine, Malaysia and the Netherlands.
The coverage is still ongoing, achieving the aim of creating the U21 ranking as a reference point for journalists, commentators and researchers over time. During the campaign U21's presence on social media was significantly enhanced with their number of followers on Twitter more than doubling.