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Case Study: Communicating from the inside out

FPL Advisory was engaged to assess the external communications activity of a university-based institute that was looking for a new approach on a path to going global.

Communications Analyst, Catriona McNaughton, updates us on how scratching the surface and delving into the internal environment provided an acute reflection on the external activity.


A university-based research institute was looking to understand where and how their communications resources could be best deployed to expand their external profile and visibility. The institute sought support to understand their external communications activity, benchmark this against peer organisations in both domestic and international markets and identify barriers or missed opportunities to execution of external communication.


Moving from a straight-forward project brief, it quickly became clear that this work needed to contribute to a broader discussion about the institute’s future direction, examine how external communications could support this ongoing journey to achieve real change, and that there were significant strategic internal matters that need to be resolved prior to any major communications reform.

The project was primarily built on interviews with a significant number of staff across all levels and areas of the institute as well as from the broader university marketing team. These interviews followed a semi-structured approach and were adapted on a case-by-case basis to gain the best insights from each individual and aimed to unpack the challenges that had been identified.

In addition to examining the range of internal factors that contributed to the broader disengagement with marketing and communications activity, we undertook a high-level review of comparative organisations which assessed their relative strengths and potential learnings for the institute to provide a holistic assessment of engagement channels and their relevance to the current resourcing and functions of the institute.


The project and the subsequent report grew significantly beyond what we all may have originally envisaged and developing the final recommendations required numerous and involved conversations in the office (and with innocent third parties from the broader FPL Advisory team). We wrangled the disparate threads and range of issues into a cohesive matrix of recommendations that stepped out quick-wins that could be delivered under the existing structure and resources as well as long term considerations to be delivered on completion of the institute’s strategic planning process and the resolution of internal strategic matters. We provided a clear and actionable pathway that was fit for delivery despite the ongoing internal flux and changing dynamics at play.

FPL Advisory supports clients across many industry sectors to resolve risks, create opportunities and support government engagement.