University of Leeds:
Exploring the messaging around the pandemic

This final report will identify changes in communication channels used, comprehension of information and behaviour traits during the pandemic, both nationally and by segment.

The School of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds wanted to explore the messaging around the COVID-19 pandemic and understand the awareness among the general public.

They wanted to identify levels of understanding and claimed adherence to the rules, to ascertain ways to improve it. The School applied for funding from the UK Research and Innovation Council who put forward money to research different aspects of the pandemic. Savanta ComRes were selected to be included in the bid as the polling partner for this work, based on our expertise of researching public perceptions throughout the pandemic on our Coronavirus Tracker.

The Challenge

The University of Leeds commissioned Savanta ComRes to conduct longitudinal public polling. Their primary objective was to understand how people receive, make sense of and act upon communications about the pandemic. Secondly, to explore different values and personality traits among the public and understand the relationship these had to COVID communications.

The main challenge for the research was ensuring a robust, representative sample of the general public and providing results in the timely manner. The research process had to be flexible to allow quick adaptations to constantly changing Government guidelines.

Our approach

Our approach offered 10 waves of polling, each collecting a sample of 1000 nationally representative UK adults between August and December (10,000 overall). After the first three waves (3000 respondents), our statisticians conducted a factor analysis to segment the public based on their values and attitudes to COVID-19.

Our approach assumed a set of tracked questions repeated over the 10 waves, with some flexibility to ask 5-8 new questions each wave. This meant that the university could look at change over time whilst still being able to collect awareness and perceptions of new communications as the situation developed.

The outcome

The university used our research and analysis to write a report on each segment’s behaviours during the pandemic and their approach to communications. In January 2021 we’ll conduct a deep dive of the longitudinal data. This final report will identify changes in communication channels used, comprehension of information and behaviour traits during the pandemic, both nationally and by segment. The university will use this to set out recommendations for improving government communication strategies in the future.


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