It’s uplifting to see that, with all the awfulness that COVID-19 has brought with it, people are finding reasons to celebrate. The amazing work done by NHS staff and frontline workers has inspired all of us. The education sector is pulling together, too, to collaborate on exciting solutions. 

With academic teams working so hard, they deserve a little bit of time in the spotlight. Your university comms team is perfectly placed to give them a platform to showcase their outstanding work. 

Here at The Brand Education, research content is a big piece of the puzzle when we’re working to raise your academic profile. Finding the crucial work that’s happening at your institution and getting it noticed in the right circles is the key to building global recognition for your academic brand. When this work is situated in a compelling narrative – especially one as universal as the global pandemic – people take notice. 

This week, we wanted to show you how universities are doing a great job of this right now. It’s also an excuse to celebrate some of the amazing efforts made by individuals across the UK. Here are three great ways you can promote your academic teams with real-life examples.

National PR Outreach

Example: Professor Sarah Gilbert, Vaccinology

Whenever we speak to universities about the work they’re doing, we’re often surprised at how little of their research they believe to be newsworthy. Especially at a time like this, reporters are hungry for engaging content that inspires their readers. As an institution undertaking important research, the chances are you’ll have stories in spades. Right now, universities are doing a great job of getting them into the hands of journalists.

Check out this story about Oxford’s contributions to a COVID 19 vaccine. What makes this story great is that it’s pertinent, timely and picks out the human side of the narrative by focussing on the first individuals to test the vaccine. It also brings one of the lead researchers –  Professor Sarah Gilbert – to the fore, giving a platform to showcase her contributions.

And don’t think for a second that it’s only universities like Oxford that get all the attention. Dundee University has done an equally good job of getting their fantastic work into the hands of journalists. 


Example: Professor Judith Breuer, Division of Infection & Immunity

Not all of the work you do is as newsworthy as developing vaccines. Sometimes, the hard work goes on behind the scenes, managing supply lines, developing infrastructure and improving public knowledge. It’s just as important to highlight this fantastic work.

UCL has published an expose on all of the work that they’re doing on a consultancy basis. Consultation projects with the British government or other public institutions are powerful tools in the battle for brand recognition. The sheer volume of projects and work that UCL showcases here is overwhelming and highlights the depth of their institutional connections to UK industry.  However, UCL still does a good job of highlighting specific academics like Judith Breuer, who is advising the government on the use of viral genomics to understand the virus’ interaction with people’s bodies.

Social media

Example: Prof Doreen Cantrell, School of Life Sciences

Last week, we mentioned how universities are sharing content under the #WeAreTogether hashtag to show unity and support during the crisis. However, only a few universities are taking the opportunity to highlight specific academics and their work. Returning again to the University of Dundee, we’re taking a look at Prof Doreen Cantrell’s work studying the biomarkers of acute respiratory distress syndrome. This is especially powerful messaging because it highlights how Dundee is working alongside Scotland’s Chief Scientist Office to produce breakthrough research.

Don’t forget, though, there’s always something your institution can do to contribute to the fight against COVID-19. Even if you’re not supporting groundbreaking research or winning national funding grants, something as simple as sewing scrubs for health workers can show how much the safety of students, staff and the public at large means to your organisation. 

If your staff are accomplishing something amazing during the COVID-19 crisis, get in touch with us here at The Brand Education. We’ll show you the best way to get the word out to raise your profile in the academic community.