GFaL cafe staff attending to a customer

Effectively communicating safety and reassurance messages

As Government restrictions were eased after the first Covid 19-19 lockdown the University undertook the complex and multifaceted task of safely reopening the campus to welcome back its students and staff.

Ensuring everyone was aware of social distancing guidelines, fully informed and safe during their time back on campus was the key goal of the communications produced and coordinated by the FD Sales, Marketing and Communications Team.

The team’s communications goals were threefold:

  • Ensure staff and students were updated about the buildings reopening
  • Provide comprehensive and reassuring information videos on how staff and students could use the campus safely
  • Communicate safe practice, and inform customers of the behaviours and standards required to keep everyone safe through effective signage

Throughout, the team worked together with colleagues from the University Communications Team, Student Education Services, Estates, Cleaning Services, Security Services, Campus Support, Procurement and Wellbeing, Safety and Health to deliver the communications requirements for safely re-opening campus.

To support building managers to safely reopen buildings a detailed communications plan was produced which gave guidance to all building managers on when and how to produce coordinated communications for returning staff and students. Templates for emails and notices assisted managers to save time and ensure communications were clear, consistent and effective. As buildings started to reopen, a bespoke webpage which detailed buildings and specific rooms to be re-opened along with estimated timescales was created and regularly updated.

A series of videos were produced to effectively communicate the significant work undertaken to make the campus Covid 19-secure. Working across the University, and service areas in the FD, to assess the needs of various customers, the team created four videos (one general student safety video and three customer reassurance videos for catering, sport and accommodation customers) that showed footage of cleaning and safety measures as well as new procedures.

The success of the videos became evident quite quickly as social media engagement exceeded all University benchmarks. The general video, showing COVID 19-19 safety measures on campus, had over 30k views and became the most shared content ever made on the University’s official Instagram account. The three videos for accommodation, sport and catering generated over 18k views.

In creating effective signage solutions to ensure everyone followed safe practice when back on campus a ‘simple is best’ approach to messaging, language and visual style was adopted. Early in the process, communication took place with cross-University groups (set up to deliver reopening) that a university-wide signage system would be developed in the form of an agile and flexible, user friendly ‘one-stop-shop’ signage catalogue.

In collaboration with the Procurement and Print and Copy Bureau, the system was designed to create a fit-for-purpose, online ordering system. Potential external suppliers were also identified to enable order timescales to be met. The team successfully met all deadlines, delivering the first draft concept within one week, with the full online ordering system and catalogue going live within three weeks of the project’s start. Engagement with relevant, expert professionals and key stakeholders from across the University ensured all signage on campus was clearly understood and followed by users.

This was a truly University-wide initiative undertaken from the outset, it was agreed the team would be timely, open, honest, and transparent in all communications which resulted in the successful communication to users about the safe reopening of buildings in an effective and organised manner. The team were praised further by other University-wide colleagues for producing communications plans and videos which they could use for their customers.

Read about our customer focussed services, 2020 to 2021