The 2014/15 annual research project returns to the topic of resources and structures for reputation management in the world’s best universities. We first visited this topic in the early days of the World 100 Reputation Network, back in 2008, sending out surveys to the most senior people in communications and marketing, and those managing international offices. Back in 2008, there wasn’t really any social media, ‘internet of things’, blogs or citizen journalism, and rankings were pretty new.

How has the passage of time along with innovations in approaches to international relations, the rise of social media and the development of global rankings affected top tier universities’ approaches to prioritising and resourcing reputation management? Have all these innovations and technologies affected the size, style or seniority of teams, and made reputation management more strategic, or better funded? The research reports explore the findings from our surveys of 47 directors of communications and marketing and 22 international directors in world-class global universities spanning 18 countries.

Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used, with the research consisting of recorded video interviews with senior Directors from top global universities, qualitative interviews with senior directors on international, marketing and communications to form a series of case studies, and online surveys for the same groups to share their views.

The first main report includes the finding from surveying Directors of Communications and Marketing, whilst the second report focuses on the surveying of Directors of International, with reference to the first benchmarking of these directors’ roles back in 2008 throughout.

Senior Directors were asked about:

  • The activities the lead is responsible for
  • The size of the main central communications department and number of other staff with a communications, PR or marketing role
  • If the University has a communications strategy and its relationship with the University strategy
  • The University's top communications priorities
  • How important and well-resourced communications is in the University
  • Annual income of the University
  • Salary of the lead comms professional
  • Annual budget for university communications
  • Stakeholder groups that have the most influential opinions
  • Methods for evaluating or benchmarking communications
  • Characteristics most important for a university's reputation
  • The biggest challenges faced in terms of enhancing the University's reputation

A few key findings

As reputation management grows in importance, so does influence

The final version of the reports from the research, Reputation Management: Priorities, structures and resources in world-class universities, were published in February 2016. Members of the W100 Network can access the reports, which include one summary and two main reports, from the news and resources page, plus those involved in the research can also download their individual reports.

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The World 100 Reputation Network is a group of the best universities in the world, delivering research that enhances reputation and offering leaders the chance to develop their own careers on a global stage. Members benefit from events and study tours, training, monthly media monitoring, and unique reputation research to provide institutional advantage.

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