University of Sheffield communications team wins gold at CIPR awards

The Media team from The University of Sheffield with their award

The University of Sheffield won an unprecedented four awards at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Yorkshire and Lincolnshire PRide Awards in Leeds last week (1 December 2017).

The University's Corporate Communications team won gold in the Education Communications Campaign category for its work leading the higher education sector-wide #WeAreInternational campaign celebrating the cultural, social and economic benefits international students bring to the UK. It also won gold for Best Use of Social Media inspiring young scientists of the future through a campaign, and subsequent film, about its successful search for an eight-year-old girl who wrote to one of its academics but failed to leave a return address.

The University’s Media Team was also named Outstanding In-House Public Relations Team and Media Relations Officer Amy Huxtable was named Outstanding Young Communicator during the ceremony at Leeds Town Hall.

CIPR Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Chair Stefan Casey said: “The Yorkshire and Lincolnshire PRide Awards are an opportunity to show just how much creative, professional PR activity is happening in our region. The individuals, teams and agencies honoured have demonstrated the highest standards of professional practice.”

The #WeAreInternational campaign, launched by the two Presidents of the University of Sheffield and its Students’ Union in 2013, celebrates the huge contribution that international students bring to the UK and is urging the UK’s government to reinforce this in word and deed through positive policies and rhetoric.

The campaign is now supported by more than 160 universities and organisations across the UK and highlights the importance of the diverse international student and staff communities in higher education.

The CIPR judges praised the “timely campaign” regenerated and refreshed to achieve results in a post-Brexit era.

Crowing it the Best Education Communications Campaign, they said: “The judges were impressed by the way in which video was used as the hero of this campaign, achieving global results and inspiring others to take action.”

Aisha’s Letter was a social media campaign to find a schoolgirl who wrote to Professor Tim Birkhead, of the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, but forgot to leave her address. Once she had been found - through a social media search supported by Professor Brian Cox - the University invited her to meet Professor Birkhead and told the story of her visit as an example of the University’s vital outreach and engagement activities.

The judges said: “The challenge of getting women in to STEM industries is very real - and so the initiative taken here to reach out to a young girl and to hopefully inspire the next generation of women scientists is commendable.”

The University’s Media Team was praised for its positive impact on boosting the University’s influence globally.

The judges said: “Media coverage has increased substantially year on year and the team are exploiting different tactics to successfully support the University’s research profile. Their work is well planned and delivered demonstrating a clear commitment to strategy-led results.”

Media Relations Officer Amy Huxtable, named Outstanding Young Communicator, was praised for the direct impact her work has had on influencing attitudes to transparency, ethics and measurement.

The judges said: “Amy demonstrated real passion for the expertise of her colleagues and a strong desire to elevate the people she works with through strategic communications campaigns.”