Strategy and Communications: one year in – EMBL Communications

EMBL Communications

Informing, inspiring, and engaging society with EMBL’s research, services and training

Strategy and Communications: one year in

Last week, Dan and I got a chance to present the work of the Strategy and Communications team to EMBL’s senior management, at the meeting of the Scientific Strategy and Management Advisory Committee (SSMAC) in Hamburg. It’s approximately one year since the Strategy and Communications team was formed, and it was a good opportunity to both look back at some of the work completed and to look forward at some of the projects that lie ahead. If you’d like to see what we presented, download the presentation [PDF – 1.7MB].

Here’s the outline of the presentation:

Team structure

We spent much of last year restructuring, moving people into new functions and recruiting into new roles. We also established new processes and we’re now kicking off some major projects. We are now structured around these broad areas:

  • production (digital, editorial and design)
  • stakeholder relations
  • outreach and local communications
  • strategy and analysis

We have 12 FTEs based in Heidelberg and 6 FTEs based in Hinxton. With the introduction of an internship programme we should also have a steady level of around 6 interns at any given time. There’s a lot more detail about these functional areas as well as individual roles in the presentation.


We now have a lot of projects to deliver, including:

  • Communications strategy / core message development
  • New corporate identity
  • Proactive media engagement
  • EMBL-wide internal communications
  • Social media strategy
  • Strengthening local communications
  • Developing communications with the scientific community
  • Communications services and consultancy for the organisation
  • New websites

We went into more depth on how we are approaching two of these: corporate identity and websites.

New corporate identity

We’re going back to basics with our corporate identity, looking at what kind of brand we want for EMBL. Should it be a tightly controlled ‘master’ brand, or should we give sub brands the space to bloom in an ‘umbrella’ brand model? The answer, we think, lies in doing a bit of both. Tabea, EMBL’s Art Director, will be kicking off a design sprint in June to look at this area and will report back via this blog.

New websites

We’ve been tasked with rebuilding EMBL’s websites. We propose breaking this down into the following areas:

  • a new intranet for the whole of EMBL
  • a new public-facing website, embl.org
  • a new website for the services that EMBL offers the scientific community
  • a framework for developers of EMBL websites

The way we are approaching these projects is to work on them in an iterative, consultative way over the long term. We have just begun research for the intranet project and will be moving along with the others in due course.


Finally, we pitched the idea of setting up a steering committee to inform our work and to gain input from across EMBL. This is in recognition of the fact that our work touches on the interests of almost everyone at EMBL. We’re going to need your help and input along the way.

That’s it in a nutshell. For more detail,  download the presentation [PDF – 1.7MB].