Case study::

Digital training for the University of Cambridge

Education | Training

The University of Cambridge, founded in 1209, is the fourth-oldest surviving university on Earth, an academic and financial behemoth. Its contribution to culture is impossible to overstate, churning out 118 Nobel Laureates and 15 Prime Ministers over the centuries.

As well as being a world-leading centre of education, it also retains close links to sectors like healthcare, technology, and even the arts. University researchers pioneer new treatments for disease, industry benefits from proximity to Cambridge’s iconic ‘Silicon Fen,’ while outlets like the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Cambridge Botanic Garden are major tourism draws.

The challenge

However, the University is not one united institution. 31 constituent colleges straddle more than 100 departments, arranged in turn into six schools.

The overall structure translates into roughly 1,600 online communications channels, with more than 400 people running them. For an extra layer of complexity, these people range across all levels of seniority, from heads of communications to fellows and undergraduate students.

This ancient, labyrinthine hierarchy makes it tricky to stay on top of best practice in digital.

Sookio training at the University of Cambridge

What we did

After a few piecemeal enquiries about training for individual faculties, departments, and colleges, we approached Barney Brown and Fred Lewsey of the University Communications Team.

What we proposed was a series of training sessions open to anyone in charge of a University-affiliated comms channel. With everyone receiving the same standard of training, Barney, Fred, and the team could be sure everyone was communicating in a clear, consistent way without losing control of the information they were putting out there.

Our first session, attended by staff from a range of University bodies went so well that we were asked to run another. Then another. Then another. Our first series of workshops consisted of six sessions, training a total of more than 150 people.

Since then we’ve returned to lead sessions on all aspects of digital comms:

  • social media

  • writing for the web

  • email marketing

  • communications strategy

The outcome

Each group within the University is made up of world-leading experts in their field, imparting invaluable information and promoting events of global significance on an almost daily basis.

Now, thanks to our training sessions, they’re imparting that wisdom in a way that’s accessible to an ever-widening set of audiences. Not only that, they’re doing so while retaining the University’s authoritative, respected tone of voice.



  • 25 sessions
  • 75+ hours of training
  • 400+ people trained
  • 302 slides
  • 150 fun activities!

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  • Cambridge Enterprise: Copywriting
  • Trinity College, Cambridge: Social media consultancy
  • CSaP: Content strategy and creation
  • Wolfson College, Cambridge: SEO and copywriting consultancy
  • University Museums Group: Social media training, blogging strategy

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