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National Geographic link-up wins 2013 EUPRIO Award

EUPRIO’s new look award scheme created quite a buzz at the Kent conference with delegates helping to pick the winning entry after a poster session during one of the lunch breaks. A bit like Eurovision, the views of delegates were combined with the judging panel and this year’s top prize – an all-expenses paid invitation to attend and present at next year’s annual conference in Innsbruck – went to Universiteit Antwerpen in Belgium.

EUPRIO Award winning TV series from Antwerpen

EUPRIO Award winning TV series from Antwerpen

Their ‘turning a recruitment campaign into a National Geographic TV series’ was the overwhelming favourite of EUPRIO members and beat off tough competition from Aarhus University in Denmark, the runners-up, and the University of Borås in Sweden, which took third place.

Jan Dries, director of communications at Antwerpen, pictured at the launch, said: “We’ve been working hard for the last five years, not just to recruit more high quality students to our science programmes, but also to build our reputation as a strong research university. We know we are the home of some excellent researchers who are the absolute top in their field of research, but getting the word out to the people that matter: the high school pupils, their parents and others in positions of influence proved a challenge.

Recruitment campaign to TV series

“So we started looking for a credible partner to find a good way to tell about our research. Fortunately we knew that National Geographic Channel had plans to start with local productions in Flanders and was looking for local content. So in NGC, we found the most credible and popular source for science information on the planet. Talk about a win-win situation.”

In all, a series of five TV programmes were screened by the new National Geographic Flemish-speaking channel under the banner of ‘Behind the Science’ – all looking at groundbreaking research taking place at Antwerpen Universiteit.

  • Hidden Masterpieces 21/03/2013
  • Sewer Drugs 28/03/2013
  • Between The Atoms 04/04/2013
  • Renewable energy 11/04/2013
  • Eco-economies 18/04/2013

Watched by 700,000

Supported with a paid-for media budget of €300,000 to promote the series through posters, ads, TV spots, radio, online and through PR and a website the TV series was watched by more than 700,000 people in Flanders (out of a population of 6.5 million).

Jan says the paid-for PR and awareness-raising campaign also benefitted from more than three times as much worth of publicity and social media positive mentions, via Facebook, Youtube, Spotify, etc.,

“Our open days promoting science have attracted a third more visitors than before the campaign. We believe it really got the attention of future scientists – our key target audience.”

Jan says that by September, all the programmes can be seen in English on our website For the moment, you will find only the Dutch versions there.

Proud to have won

“Of course, we are proud to have won the EUPRIO award. Especially since this is the judgement of the communication professionals of all the higher education institutions of Europe.

“It was not only the opinion of the jury about our project that that we were delighted about, but also about the many votes of the participants.

“The beautiful glass EUPRIO award is now circulating on all the desktops of the colleagues of the department of communication of the University of Antwerp.”

Runner-up promotes entrepreneurship

The runner-up in this year’s awards was Innoside at NorthSide – a campaign to promote student entrepreneurship at a music festival in June 2012) entered by Signe Schou, communications manager at Aarhus University Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI).

Installation at the Aarhus Innoside lounge.

Installation at the Aarhus Innoside lounge.

Signe explained CEI’s aim is to promote and attract more students to entrepreneurship and enterprise creation in higher education. “We wanted to show how students can create value in society with their academic knowledge. So, in collaboration with the local music festival NorthSide, we created Innoside – a lounge at the festival for student entrepreneurs to exhibit their work and an opportunity for us – the university – to interact with the audience. We wanted to show instead of tell what academic knowledge can lead to by means of creativity, innovation, new ideas and start-up businesses.

Talking to students outside university walls

“The festival was an interesting venue for us because 40 % of the audience are students and we really managed to do something different in our effort to promote student entrepreneurship. So it was in essence an internal campaign to promote entrepreneurship in higher education – it just took place in a very different context outside the walls of the university, and therefore gave us an opportunity to engage in different types of conversation with our audience.”

The result was a 100% increase in applications to the University’s Student Incubator in the second half of 2012. And secondly – and as important for us – full corporate buy in from corporate AU to facilitate Innosode 2.0, which took place at the festival in June 2013, explained Signe.

Facebook birthday scholarships

Third place went to Martin Karlsson from the University of Borås in Sweden, for their ‘Gilded Bonus Scholarship’ – 12 micro scholarships worth 50 Euros each awarded to students to mark the University’s fifth year on Facebook.

“We wanted to celebrate our fifth birthday, create activity on our page, gain new followers among our 14,000 students and give something back to current students – who can feel neglected in the focus on prospective student”, said Martin.

Supported by ‘guerrilla marketing placed flyers on bikes, lunch trays, in books, on walls and in elevators, 329 applications were received. The 12 ‘winners’ were officially revealed one-by-one where they received likes and appreciation from their peers.

The campaign saw a 56% increase of Facebook traffic to the university page and generated a lot of goodwill, with a four-fold increase in “likes” to the page over the two-week campaign period.

Martin said he had a great time at the EUPRIO project presentations, answering questions and, hopefully inspiring others to think differently about social media content and audiences.

Getting into the spirit

Christine Legrand, director of communications at CPE Lyon, and chair of the EUPRIO judging panel, said: “I was delighted that all the winning entries really got into the spirit of what we were trying to achieve. They not only prepared good posters, but they took the time to explain to delegates about what their campaigns had achieved in person.

“I am really happy that it worked so well even though we only had 11 entries. Next year, we hope to get more entries, but I am confident that this is a winning formula to use and I’d like to thank all the delegates who voted and all the entrants who took part.”

* You can download the three winning posters for the EUPRIO Awards at

Story by Nic Mitchell