Research Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic
From the Nominator
In early January 2020, Oxford’s researchers were already meeting to discuss approaches to the emerging novel coronavirus. By the time the virus was sequenced on 13 January, a vaccine team was ready for action.
As the pandemic spread, hundreds of researchers across more than 50 departments were contributing to a lifesaving vaccine and new drug treatments, engineering new ventilators and tests, investigating the mental health and social impact of lockdowns, tracking government responses, and working directly with national and international bodies to ensure research had immediate impact.
Oxford’s research was world-leading, and this media relations campaign aimed to ensure it had the right impact. This work moved quickly, and the university’s media relations team pivoted immediately to produce a global coronavirus media relations strategy as part of a wider integrated campaign. Our approach focused on telling a powerful story about Oxford’s research excellence and its practical application to help address the global challenges created by coronavirus.
The campaign was driven forward and achieved global awareness of Oxford’s key messages through a people-focused approach to scientific storytelling, profiling the researchers behind the science combined with timely, accurate, and easily digestible information on Oxford’s coronavirus research and public health messaging, including specific work to combat disinformation.
The campaign ran over 12 months from January 2020 to January 2021. By the time the WHO declared a pandemic, the team was deploying nearly one major news story a day, with all content produced in house and nearly all reach earned or owned.
From the Judges
Most of the entries were about COVID this year, so it was hard to stand out in that crowd. This entry set itself apart with its comprehensiveness, scale, and results.