Request for information on your sponsored facebook advertisement regarding Jeremy Corbyn's recent visit.

Peter Thompson made this Freedom of Information request to University of Worcester

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear University of Worcester,

A Facebook sponsored post promoting an album entitled "Corbyn on Campus" was recently visible to students applying to university. This raised the following questions.
(1) Can you confirm that there was payment for the sponsored post?
(2) Were university funds used for this?
(3) if not, what was the source of the funds?
(4) have any other politicians’ visits been highlighted in the same way?
(5) What demographic was targeted, please provide age group and keywords used?
(6) Did Jeremy Corby, The Labour Party or any other body request the promotion of the album?
(7) What is the role of the university officer who authorised this promotion?

Yours faithfully,
Peter Thompson

Helen Johnstone, University of Worcester

3 Attachments

The University of Worcester received a Freedom of Information request from
a Mr. Thompson on 6 August, 2017, which asked a series of questions about
a post on our University Facebook page. The post was published on July 12,
2017, and consisted of  short text and a gallery of 13 photographs of a
visit by the Rt. Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of Her Majesty’s Official
Opposition to the University on the 8^th of May, 2017. The link to the
post is below. The text accompanying the 13 photographs reads, in its
entirety: “Corbyn On Campus – University of Worcester students put their
questions to Jeremy Corbyn during his recent visit to campus.”

 

[1]Facebook Album: Corbyn on Campus

 

This post, was subsequently ‘sponsored’ on Facebook by the University at a
cost of £150, in order to generate increased awareness of the University
and its courses, traffic to the University’s website and interest in the
University’s social media channels and work generally.

 

We are pleased to publish this detailed, considered response to the FOI
request received. It fully answers the questions posed. The answers
necessarily deal with wider matters concerned with the University’s
responsibility and commitment to encouraging engagement in the democratic
process, as well as matters connected to the University’s approach to
communication.

 

The University’s legal form is that we are a charity whose principal
objects are education and research. In common with all universities in the
UK we are an independent institution committed to democratic values and
public benefit. We are regulated by charity law.  The University has no
party political affiliation. During the recent general election period the
University’s communications team paid scrupulous attention to the very
helpful guidance circulated by UniversitiesUK on 3 May, 2017, which is
attached here.

 

Early in the recent General Election campaign, The Rt. Hon Jeremy Corbyn
MP, Leader of HM Opposition, asked if he could visit the University of
Worcester. He particularly wished to meet with students studying nursing.
We acceded to his request, and, as always, informed our constituency MP,
Mr. Robin Walker MP of this request and upcoming visit.

 

The University is long accustomed to visits by Ministers and Parliamentary
leaders throughout the year. We welcome such visits as it helps us
discharge our responsibility to promote democratic discussion and debate
and generates public interest in the activities of the University.

 

There is a long history of such visits. Mrs. Thatcher, visited the
University, then a College, in the early 1970s and stayed overnight in the
then ‘Principal’s House’.

 

Much more recently the University has welcomed the then Chancellor of the
Exchequer then Alistair now Lord Darling; the former Chancellor of the
Exchequer the Rt. Hon. Kenneth Clarke MP; the then Education Secretary,
the Rt. Hon. Nicky Morgan MP; the then Universities Secretaries; the Rt.
Hon Greg Clark MP who is currently Secretary of State for Business, Energy
and Industrial Strategy and then David now Lord Willetts, among many
others including David Laws when he was the Schools Minister. Lord
Willetts visited the University twice – once when Shadow Universities
Minister and once when Universities Secretary.

 

On these occasions, the University has typically photographed and reported
on the visit on its own website and we have also sent press releases to
the media. The more recent of these visits have also been posted on social
media sites, as the University has become more active on these channels.
Further details about a selection of these visits are given below. All
this material is in the public domain and freely available on the
University’s website:

 

[2]http://worcester.ac.uk/discover/educatio...
   

[3]http://worcester.ac.uk/discover/universi...

[4]http://worcester.ac.uk/discover/kenneth-...

[5]https://www.worc.ac.uk/discover/schools-...

[6]http://worcester.ac.uk/discover/universi...

 

In the case of Mr. Corbyn’s visit, there was a great deal of
contemporaneous media interest and the University did not itself publish
any material at the time. This interest included TV coverage. Mr. Corbyn
subsequently referred to his visit to the University at the beginning of a
clip published by Channel 4 which has been viewed 2.4 million times. This
clip in the form of a Facebook post is available below:

 

[7]https://www.facebook.com/Channel4NewsDem...

 

Taking into account this background, the Director of Communications and
Participation, decided that it would generate increased awareness of
opportunities to study nursing and other subjects at the University if the
University published a series of the photographs that were taken during
Mr. Corbyn’s visit.

 

At the time, the University was running an awareness-raising campaign,
ahead of A Level Results Day. Social media was a key channel in this
campaign, which was optimised for a demographic that aligns with the
profile of the University’s current undergraduate population. As well as
creating new content, the University trialled ‘boosting’ existing content,
based on popularity. The post relating to Mr. Corbyn’s visit generated
substantial organic traffic, which was well above an average post on the
University’s Facebook page.  It was therefore decided to boost this
particular post, alongside several other popular posts, covering a range
of topics, in order to reach a wider audience. The £150 spent on boosting
this post was the same amount as was spent on a number of these other
posts. The total spend on ‘boosting’ was £1,500 of which the spend on the
‘Corbyn on Campus’ post represented precisely one tenth of the total. A
comments section was enabled and a number of users freely expressed their
views, without editorial intervention from the University.

 

There was no request to promote the post by Mr Corbyn, the Labour Party,
or any other organisation or individual. The post and its boosting took
place outside a ‘regulated period’ relating to a forthcoming election or
referendum.

 

This is the first year that the University has operated this type of
social media campaign intensively. The decision to boost this post
featuring Mr. Corbyn’s visit to the University should be placed in this
context. As the digital landscape evolves, we are actively experimenting
and testing new methods to reach our audiences and prompt interaction. We
are currently doing so, with considerable success with, for example, short
videos produced by the University that we have also boosted on social
media.

 

A video featuring Marc Scriven, launched on June 5, has been seen well
over 100,000 times and one featuring Sophie Carrigill launched on July 20
has been seen by over two thirds of a million viewers – including a
quarter of a million in cinemas. Both videos can be viewed on you tube.

 

[8]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EwG_7qq...

 

[9]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xws4Izr2...

 

The University has every intention of continuing to work in the ways
described above. We are delighted that Mr. Corbyn, the Leader of Her
Majesty’s Official Opposition asked to visit the University earlier this
year. We will be delighted to welcome leaders of democratic political
parties represented in Parliament to the University in future; as well as
Ministers, shadow Ministers and other important democratic leaders.  We
will continue to publicise such visits using traditional and modern
methods of communication as we judge appropriate. We will continue to
encourage student, staff and community engagement with the democratic
process as we did during the recent General Election, when  the University
extended an invitation to all local parliamentary candidates and in
partnership with the Worcester Students’ Union, hosted a hustings on
campus:

 

[10]https://www.facebook.com/UniversityOfWor...

 

The specific questions asked by Mr. Thomson were:

 

A  Facebook sponsored post promoting an album entitled "Corbyn on Campus"
was recently visible to students applying to university. This raised the
following questions.

(1) Can you confirm that there was payment for the sponsored post?

(2) Were university funds used for this?

(3) if not, what was the source of the funds?

(4) have any other politicians’ visits been highlighted in the same way?

(5) What demographic was targeted, please provide age group and keywords
used?

(6) Did Jeremy Corby, The Labour Party or any other body request the
promotion of the album?

(7) What is the role of the university officer who authorised this
promotion?

 

I am obliged, under the Freedom of Information Act, to inform you of our
complaints procedures in case you are unhappy about the way in which your
request has been dealt with. 

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been
handled, you can request a review by writing to the University Counsel,
University of Worcester, Henwick Grove, Worcester WR2 6AJ

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint,
you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF.  Telephone: 0303 123 1113 – [11]www.ico.gov.uk

 

Regards

 

Helen Johnstone

 

 

 

 

 

Helen Johnstone

Head of Information Assurance/Manager – University Strategic Projects

University of Worcester

Henwick Grove

Worcester   WR2 6AJ

 

Tel: 01905 855014

https://www.worcester.ac.uk/informationa...

 

[12]UW Logo 2

 

[13]cid:image002.gif@01D2D4B0.84345340

 

References

Visible links
1. https://www.facebook.com/pg/UniversityOf...
2. http://worcester.ac.uk/discover/educatio...
3. http://worcester.ac.uk/discover/universi...
4. http://worcester.ac.uk/discover/kenneth-...
5. https://www.worc.ac.uk/discover/schools-...
6. http://worcester.ac.uk/discover/universi...
7. https://www.facebook.com/Channel4NewsDem...
8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EwG_7qq...
9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xws4Izr2...
10. https://www.facebook.com/UniversityOfWor...
11. http://www.ico.gov.uk/