Introduction and purpose
Stockholm University’s communications policy is a framework for all communications within all operations. The policy establishes Stockholm University’s views on the purpose and importance of communication; responsibilities and roles in the communication process, target groups and channels. The communications policy is complemented by a communications platform, guidelines for visual identity, a manual for the visual identity and Web guidelines.
The communications platform is a foundation for everyone working with information and communications within the organisation. It describes a long-term commitment and the main messages that should form the basis for Stockholm University’s profile and image.
The University’s visual identity contains guidelines for logotypes, colours, fonts, graphic elements, profile images (image concept), language (tone and official names), graphical hierarchy and co-branding.
The manual for visual identity contains instructions for the communications’ visual design on printed matter, stationery, signage, the Web, etc.
The Web guidelines provide standards for colour and design, interaction principles, accessibility and content.
  • A free and mutual exchange of information and documentation is of fundamental importance to new knowledge – within the University as well as in the world around us. The University’s mission is to communicate the core activities – education and research – as well as cooperation and collaboration with the surrounding community. The University partakes in intensive national and international cooperation and seeks to expand national and international collaboration. Communication is an important tool in this undertaking. Efficient communication should contribute to achieving the mission objectives. The information and communications aspect should be considered prior to any general decisions made by the University Board, Vice-Chancellor, Deans and Faculty Boards, Heads of Department or equivalent, and managers in University administration.
The Head of Communications and Communications Office play a coordinating role in the University’s internal and external communications and should be informed and/or involved in University-wide decisions. The Communications Office will then decide which information efforts and channels to use.
The aim is for communication to be proactive, which means that the it when, by whom, how and why information and communication are required should be anticipated. With good planning, the right information and communication can be developed and distributed in an appropriate manner at the right time.
Communication is a two-way process and involves two or more parties giving and receiving information in dialogue with each other. This means listening to the other party, as well as delivering one’s own message.
Information is a message intended to increase knowledge.
Efficient internal communication at Stockholm University will ensure that different opinions are heard, and that the views and ideas of the staff are utilized. Internal communication is thus a prerequisite for staff members’ participation and pride in their own work. Internal communication should be used to secure the University’s educational and research mission, direct the organisation’s way of conduct and increase work efficiency. Internal communication is very important for reaching, and recruiting, groups outside the University through the staff. In the same way, efficient internal communication also lays the foundation for good external communication, in which the staff functions as University ambassadors in the community.
The main purpose of external communication is to build trust and support for, as well as increase awareness of, the University’s education and research. The external communication should convey an accurate and comprehensive view of the University, its capacity and distinctiveness. External communication includes educational and research communications, media relations, marketing and branding. Whenever possible, external communication should always be preceded by internal information and support.
Stockholm University’s communications are characterised by transparency, relevance and coordination.
- Transparency strengthens confidence in the operation and is a prerequisite for new knowledge, and thus also for new knowledge to be converted into practice at the University and in the outside world. The principle of public access to official records places special demands on a public institution, and Stockholm University must always observe the rights of internal and external interested parties to gain insight into the University’s operation.
- Relevance. Communications must provide accurate information and be relevant from the recipient’s perspective, but also be adapted to the target group in terms of message, language and form of address.
- Coordination. All external and internal communications should, as far as possible, be planned and carried out in harmony and with a common focus.
Target groups
All communications should be adapted to the target group, that is, be based on the intended recipient’s interests, knowledge and experience.
The target group of the University’s internal communications is the staff.
The target groups of the University’s external communications are current Swedish and international students and researchers, potential Swedish and foreign students and researchers, other potential staff, alumni, interested parties, policy makers in the public sector and industry, philanthropists, journalists, and Swedish and foreign universities and colleges.
Communications based on dialogue and interaction should be prioritised. Channels and combinations of channels are defined on the basis of target group definitions and objectives, and are specified in the annual plans.
The channels for the University’s internal communications include Stockholm University’s central staff website, staff magazine, the physical campus environment and signs.
The channels for the University’s external communications include Stockholm University’s central website, the Internet, personal dialogue at exhibitions, events and seminars, the media, newsletters, management newsletters, direct mail and advertising, the physical campus environment and signs.
Each staff member is responsible for communications related to their own areas of responsibility. In accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, staff members are also required to promptly – i.e. the same day or the next, unless agreed otherwise – respond to questions about their activities and provide official documents to the public. Several occupational groups are active in the University’s communication, and communication is an important task for, for example, student counsellors and directors of studies. Some departments/equivalent and units have communications officers on staff. They have the operational responsibility for their own department/equivalent or unit’s information work.
Heads of Department/equivalent and managers in administration are responsible for their own department’s/unit’s internal and external communications, as well as for the department/unit following the University’s communications policy, communications platform, communications plan and manual for visual identity.
Deans are responsible for their own faculty’s internal and external communications, as well as for the faculty following the University’s communications policy, communications platform, communications plan and manual for visual identity.
The Vice-Chancellor is responsible for university-wide internal and external communications. This responsibility is delegated to the Communications Office, who is responsible for development, implementation and monitoring of the communications policy, communications platform, communications plan and manual for visual identity. This responsibility also involves operational work with, among other things, the staff magazine, website, mass media relations and brand. This work is managed by the Head of Communications.
Media-related communications
The media have a key role in the communication process and in developing the University’s brand. Journalists have a key role when it comes to what research findings will reach the general public, how the University’s education programmes are perceived, what issues are discussed and what messages are conveyed. Media reporting thus affects what research areas will receive funding and what courses students choose.
The principle of public access to official records permeates the University’s dealings with the media. The public – represented here by journalists – is entitled to full insight into what the University does. As a public institution, the University should demonstrate great openness and, as far as possible, assist journalists in their contacts with the University.
Stockholm University should work to make sure that communication between journalists and staff is characterised by respect and understanding for each other’s goals, purposes and attitudes. Researchers, for example, may find the relationship with journalists complicated due to the different ways they express themselves. The researcher may be concerned about being misinterpreted if he or she does not give the complete picture of their research, including the existing doubts and reservations. The journalist, on the other hand, would like to have a straight and direct answer that can be understood by as wide an audience as possible. The University and the Communications Office should, therefore, seek mutual understanding of the journalists’ and researchers’ mission and working methods. The Communications Office contributes towards a proactive and forceful media effort through press releases, press conferences, handling routine contacts with the press, etc.
The University has an operational role in the media-related information and communications work – a Press Secretary. Together with the Head of Communications, the Press Secretary is responsible for strategic planning, implementation and evaluation of the University’s media-related communications.
Journalists should be able to reach the Press Secretary at Stockholm University even outside of office hours. Questions and inquiries to the Press Secretary, in which journalists are seeking contact or information from researchers and/or other personnel, should preferably be answered in accordance with the media’s working conditions, i.e. within 2-3 hours or less. If this is not possible, the journalist should be informed of this within this time frame.
All members of staff at Stockholm University are covered by the statutory right to inform, which means they have the right to provide information to the media. It is unlawful for superiors and colleagues to investigate who contacted the media. However, the right to inform does not mean that all members of staff have the right to speak in the University’s name, or to represent the University in the media.
Questions from the media pertaining to research conducted at the University should be referred to the researcher or team of researchers with expertise in the field. The Press Secretary and the relevant Head of Department/equivalent have joint responsibility for coordinating this.
In urgent matters that may attract a lot of attention from the media, the Head of Department/equivalent should inform the Press Secretary or Head of Communications. Then it is the responsibility of the Press Secretary or Head of Communications to suggest who should speak to the media in the matter, think about what questions might be raised, gather facts and monitor the matter as it progresses in the media, and subsequently evaluate the publicity and how the matter was dealt with. The Press Secretary is responsible for coordinating the communications with the media while the matter is being dealt with.
In other matters, unless otherwise agreed, the following order of media spokespersons is used:
– The Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor are spokespersons for university-wide issues.
– Deans are spokespersons for faculty issues.
– The Director of Administration/University Director is the spokesperson for administration issues.
– Heads of Department/equivalent and managers in administration are spokesmen for the department’s/unit’s issues.
The Press Secretary and Head of Communications generally do not speak to the media, since they usually do not have the expertise or power to make a decision in the matter. During a period of intense media pressure, however, the Press Secretary/Head of Communications may answer questions from the media in order to reduce the burden on the management and/or concerned department/unit.
Legal framework
There are many laws and regulations that apply to both internal and external communications:
- The Constitution and Freedom of the Press Act regulate everyone’s right to freedom of opinion, freedom of expression and freedom of information.
- The Administrative Procedure Act regulates service obligations to the people.
- The Higher Education Act specifies the obligation of universities and colleges to cooperate with the community and provide information about their activities.
- The Higher Education Ordinance regulates the right to information on education.
- Even copyright law, the Personal Data Protection Act, the Equal Opportunities Act, the Equal Treatment of Students Act and the Law on Industrial Co-determination have an effect on information and communications in the University’s field of operations.