The Open University is currently the largest academic institution in the UK with 173,889 students. Since the OU’s launch in 1969, 1.89 million people worldwide have achieved their learning goals by studying with them.

In 2007, the OU published a range of journals for its staff, students and alumni and also provided a number of electronic media resources. The portfolio of communications was expensive and time consuming to maintain.

GlowWorm Marketing was commissioned to undertake qualitative and quantitative research to gain a thorough understanding of what it was that staff, students and alumni wanted from the OU in terms of communication, and what were the most appropriate and useful media to achieve this.

42,300 surveys were sent to representative samples of staff, students and alumni and their findings analysed. The information gleaned clearly mapped out readership and desire for each publication amongst each of the various groups and sub-groups.

Next, 17 focus groups were undertaken, to determine why the publications were or were not required, what else was needed and how each would add to the over OU brand and the staff, alumni or student’s ‘experience’ with the Open University.

The results enabled the Communications Team at the Open University to decide where to focus their resources to best communicate with each of the key staff, students and alumni audiences.