Strategy & Support

We expect higher education to transform lives and change the planet. And this public accountability becomes visible through the work of its communications teams. Our job is to resolve the priority and resource pressures that many teams experience.

To help clients shape and deliver more effective communications and engagement, we provide:

  • Communications strategies, both broad-reaching and audience-specific.
  • Public consultation planning for new projects and campus developments.
  • Communications strategy workshops.
  • Communications team structural and operational design.
  • Performance measurement and target setting.
  • Crisis communications planning and response.
“Since we implemented Justin’s recommendations, our Media & PR team has gone from strength to strength. His experience and insight were invaluable in guiding me and my team through the changes we needed to make.”
Will Marsh, Deputy Director of Communications, University of Bristol

The issue

The University of Bristol, like many others, was attempting to share its wide range of research and expertise with a small Media and PR team. Hardworking, but overwhelmed, the team decided to take stock. It needed to revisit its strategy and objectives, review its processes and resources, and find the headspace for greater creativity in its work.

How we worked together

We took a three-stage approach.

First, we did the research to fully understand the situation. We interviewed the team and its internal customers, including senior executives. We explored its challenges in detail. And we asked team members for their ideas and suggestions.

Next, we benchmarked the team against similar universities. Drawing on our sector knowledge, we recommended strategic changes that addressed workload, priorities, resources, expertise and team structure.

Finally, we supported the team in making the case for a revised structure. Press officers refocused their efforts on specific aspects of the university’s work. The team recruited a number of new colleagues, securing experience that matched its strategy.

The results

The team laid the foundations for its people to fulfil. And with the structure, staff and clarity in place, it was ready to be responsive and proactive as the pandemic began. From March to October 2020, the team achieved 112% more coverage than the previous year. 40% of it mentioned COVID-19, meeting the media’s thirst for expert perspectives and promoting the university’s incredible work in this area.

With greater capacity, the team is finding new ways to share stories about the university’s teaching work, the student experience and topical public issues, as well as its research. And it’s able to measure and report the impact of its more innovative approach and its day-to-day focus.

Back to top