Campus media teams reveal strange requests

Scholars have asked university communications departments to publicise their birthdays and businesses as well as academic conferences

May 7, 2015

An academic who asked a communications director to publicise news of their birthday in the national press was one of the more surprising results to come out of a survey of university media teams.

Asked to name the most unusual things that researchers had asked them to publicise, other managers volunteered “attendance at a conference”, “an internal workshop”, a “trip abroad to visit another university” and “their own business”.

But these examples of academics not understanding what communications departments are paid to do were the exception rather than the rule, with only one in 10 of the directors questioned by Gerard Kelly & Partners, a public relations agency, describing their academic colleagues as being unsupportive.

The survey asked 36 communications directors what their team’s priorities were, with aiding domestic student recruitment coming out on top. It was classed as very important by 80 per cent of respondents.

Promoting research was not far behind, on 68 per cent, followed by overseas recruitment on 63 per cent. Other popular choices were internal communications (53 per cent) and public engagement (46 per cent).

The survey found that communications directors are honest about their department’s limitations. While 60 per cent felt that they generally did a good job of telling their institution’s stories, 29 per cent did not, and 77 per cent believed that their university could improve.

Some 86 per cent of respondents said that the single biggest thing holding their team back was a lack of staff. When asked what frustrated them most in their job, 63 per cent cited a lack of budget.

Gerard Kelly, a founding partner of GKP, said: “It’s good to see that most academic colleagues value their communications teams, despite complaints over the past few years about the growth of managerial roles. Nevertheless, most directors are clearly feeling that they are being asked to do a lot with insufficient staff and resources.”

There was, however, agreement on one issue: 83 per cent of the communications directors said that it was important “for our vice-chancellor to have a strong media profile”.

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Professor in Music and Performance UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH WALES
Professor of Storytelling UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH WALES
Professor of Creative Industries UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH WALES
Postdoctoral Position in Modelling of Farming Systems SWEDISH UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES SLU

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest