The University of Leipzig is considered one of the leading think tanks for strategic communication in Europe. Here you can find out more about the most important key data, the chronicle and the Hall of Fame of the Communication Management research area.

At a Glance

An overview of focal points, research projects, publications and people is provided in the current annual report of the research and teaching area Communication Management.

The University of Leipzig is considered one of the leading think tanks for strategic communication in Europe. In the Communication Management teaching area of the Institute of Communication and Media Studies, a team of four university professors and several research assistants is committed to the topics of communication management, online communication and public relations, more than at any other university in the German-speaking world.

The research and teaching area is part of the Institute of Communication and Media Studies, which looks back on a history of more than 100 years, making it the birthplace of the discipline in Europe: in 1916, the national economist Karl Bücher initiated the Institute of Newspaper Studies at the Alma Mater Lipsiensis, which was founded in 1409; in 1993, the Institute was completely reorganised after the reunification of Germany.

International partnerships with universities in the USA, Asia and Europe, the management of international research groups and journals, lecturers and honorary professors with many years of practical experience, as well as close cooperation with the management levels of corporate communications in the German economy characterise Leipzig's profile.

Numerous competence centres, partners and networks ensure that research is applied and enable targeted knowledge transfer. In the Academic Society for Corporate Management & Communication, around 40 global companies support research in the field of corporate communication. The Center for Research in Financial Communication (CRiFC) provides an institutional basis for university research and teaching in the field of financial communication. Other topics are addressed by the Center for Entrepreneurship Communication (CEC) and the Center for Digital Participation (CEP). The Günter Thiele Foundation for Communication & Management supports research, knowledge transfer and internationalisation at the Institute. 

The European Communication Monitor, the world's largest study on strategic communication, in combination with parallel studies in Asia, North America and Latin America, provides empirically supported insights into the status quo and development trends of communication management in over 80 countries every year.

More than 90 book publications by the professors, including the standard works "The Routledge Handbook of Strategic Communication", "Handbuch Unternehmenskommunikation" and "Handbuch Investor Relations", over 700 specialist articles and studies in several languages, the editorship of the "International Journal of Strategic Communication" and the organisation of international specialist conferences underline the Leipzig Institute's contribution to theory development. An important role is played by the young researchers with successful doctorates and successes through best paper awards and awards at international conferences.

The spectrum of research topics is broad: numerous projects are carried out in the fields of corporate communication, communication control/evaluation, entrepreneurship communication, non-profit communication, online communication, international communication, political communication, financial communication, as well as communication science and PR research.

Since the mid-1990s, the University of Leipzig has been regarded as the top address for academic training in the field of communication management and public relations. Over 750 alumni have started their careers at the institute. Many of them hold leading positions in business, society and academia - from DAX communications bosses to agency owners to professors.

Every year, the Master's programme Communication Management offers 30 students with first-class Bachelor's degrees from universities all over Germany and practical experience the chance to qualify for a career in companies, corporate and communication consultancies as well as in academia (doctorate). The duration is four semesters (full-time), plus a semester abroad or practical training if necessary. In the most recent BdKom occupational field study, for which 1,553 communication managers throughout Germany were surveyed, the programme once again took first place among the universities, followed by the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the universities of Hohenheim (Stuttgart), Münster and Mainz.

The Institute's Bachelor's programme in Communication and Media Studies offers A-level students a broad basic qualification in the theories and methods of the subject. The focus on communicator research imparts knowledge of communication management and journalism through lectures, theory, method and application modules in a total of six semesters (full-time). Integrated semesters abroad and internships are possible. The degree enables students to start their careers or apply for Master's programmes in Leipzig or at other universities.

Study programmes at a glance

Since the mid-1990s, over 750 students majoring in communications management/PR have graduated from Leipzig - they now work throughout the German-speaking world and internationally. Many of them are organised in the LPRS Leipziger Public Relations Studenten e.V. - the subject's largest student and alumni organisation with regional groups throughout Germany and London.

Leipzig students have won numerous awards in recent years. Already 24 times, prizes for the best thesis in the field of communication management and PR in Germany or Europe have gone to Leipzig. In addition, there are awards for contributions at scientific conferences or for conception projects, such as the DPRG Junior Award. This is top-notch throughout Europe and testifies to the quality of Leipzig's education.

The "Hall of Fame" of the award-winning master's and master's theses as well as dissertations is available here.

Milestones since 1993


As part of the reorganisation of the Institute for Communication and Media Studies at the University of Leipzig after German reunification, the first Chair for Public Relations in the German-speaking world is advertised in 1993.


The chair is filled on 1 April 1994 by Professor Dr Günter Bentele, at the time Professor of Communication Studies with a focus on journalism at the University of Bamberg. This creates a teaching and research focus at the University of Leipzig which today occupies a leading position in Europe. Start of the highly demanded major in PR/Public Relations as part of the Master's degree programme in Communication and Media Studies (KMW).


The well-known agency founder Jürg W. Leipziger becomes honorary professor for public relations. In the same year, the "Leipziger Skripten für Public Relations und Kommunikationsmanagement" (Leipzig Scripts for Public Relations and Communication Management) are launched, followed in 1996 by the "serie öa/pr" series published by Vistas-Verlag, which from 2000 onwards is complemented by the series "Organisationskommunikation. Studien zu Public Relations / Öffentlichkeitsarbeit und Kommunikationsmanagement" published by Westdeutscher Verlag (later VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften or Springer VS). In February, the first academic conference on PR research takes place: a joint working conference of the German Network for Business Ethics (DNWE) and the DGPuK's working group "Public Relations and Organisational Communication" on the topic of "Dialogue-oriented Corporate Communication". Further conferences followed in 1996, 2002 and 2004.


Founding of the research and communication agency LiSA GmbH, which is close to the Chair, active from 1999 to 2014 and coordinated by Dr Tobias Liebert.


Establishment of the Foundation for the Promotion of PR Science at the University of Leipzig (SPRL) in the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany. The foundation supports research and teaching projects at the University of Leipzig. In 2015, it merged into the legally independent Günter Thiele Foundation for Communication & Management. The non-profit foundations support research and teaching at the Institute with more than 1.5 million euros over the following two decades and have a long-term commitment to Leipzig.


In the summer semester of 2002, the newly established B.A. programme in PR/Communication Management begins at the Institute, making it possible for the first time in Germany to study the subject as an undergraduate degree at a university. In May, Günter F. Thiele is awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Leipzig.


In July, seven students found the LPRS association, which organises its own events, puts on an extremely successful alumni weekend in 2006 and is internationally networked. Motto: "Nicht meckern, machen".


In the winter semester 2005/2006, the Corporate Publishing Academy (CPA) began with a lecture in cooperation with the research agency LiSA and Trurnit Verlag. This is why the part-time Master's programme "Corporate Media" was later created under the direction of Professor Bentele. It was offered by the Leipzig School of Media and the University of Leipzig from 2009 to 2018.


Professor Dr Ansgar Zerfaß, appointed to the endowed professorship "Communication Management in Politics and Business", begins his work on 1 July. On 9 November, the academic symposium "Communication Management in Politics and Business" with Prof. Zerfaß's inaugural lecture takes place in Leipzig's Old Town Hall. Participants in the discussion are Professor Dr Kurt Biedenkopf. In the same year, Dr Bernd Schuppener is appointed honorary professor for communication management.


In June, the Communication Leadership Forum is launched by Professor Zerfaß as a new form of knowledge transfer. Around 20 communication managers from the first management level of global corporations and innovative brand companies meet once a year in Leipzig with internationally renowned PR researchers. In autumn, the first Master's programme in Communication Management starts in Germany.


More than 450 prominent guests from business, science and the media accepted the invitation to the symposium "Trust and Communication" at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig on the occasion of Professor Bentele's 60th birthday. Among the speakers at the symposium are Deputy Government Spokesman Dr Thomas Steg, BASF Head of Communications Dr Felix Gress and Professor Dr Betteke van Ruler, University of Amsterdam. Afterwards, there will be a lively party at the Moritzbastei.


The European Communication Monitor, led by Professor Zerfaß since 2007, has established itself as the largest annual international study of the professional field. With eight books and numerous professional articles, the scientific output of the research field is more extensive than ever. The practical orientation is also right: A communication concept "Studying in the Far East" conceived by students with Professor Zerfaß wins 100,000 euros in a competition of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. An annual report of the Research and Teaching Department is published for the first time.


Long-time lecturer Dr. iur. Werner Süss, Chairman of the Management Board of Vattenfall Europe Sales, is appointed Honorary Professor of Corporate Communications and strengthens the department's team. In the following years, he is particularly committed to the internationalisation of the course offerings. In autumn of the year, at an event with philosopher Professor Dr. Peter Sloterdijk in Berlin, the Academic Society for Corporate Management and Communication is founded as a joint think tank of the leading universities and companies in the German-speaking world. The office and management of Professor Zerfass as initiator will be located in Leipzig.


Professor Zerfaß takes over the presidency of the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA) for two years in January and in autumn becomes the first European researcher to receive the Pathfinder Award of the Institute for Public Relations in New York for his contributions to international PR research.

Günter Bentele retires at the end of September after 20 years at the University of Leipzig, but continues to be involved in research. Ansgar Zerfaß turns down calls to the BI Norway Business School in Oslo and to an Endowed Chair at the USC Annenberg School of Communication in Los Angeles and accepts a call to the newly established Chair of Strategic Communication in Leipzig.

Cornelia Wolf is appointed to the newly created junior professorship (with tenure track) for online communication at the Institute. Tobias Liebert acts as a substitute professor for communication management for one year.


Professor Dr Christian P. Hoffmann  will be appointed to the professorship of Communication Management in October. He will assume responsibility for teaching in the area of political communication and systematically expand research on financial communication.

Dr. Christof E. Erhart wird zum Honorarprofessor für internationale Unternehmenskommunikaton ernannt. Im Dezember organisiert der Forschungsbereich eine internationale Konferenz zur Non-Profit-Kommunikation gemeinsam mit der European Communication Education and Research Association (ECERA).


Under the title "100 Years of Communication Studies in Germany", the largest annual conference to date of the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Publizistik und Kommunikationswissenschaft (DGPuK) will take place in Leipzig in April. The occasion is the founding of the host Institute for Communication and Media Studies or its predecessor institution in 1916. The conference with over 500 participants is largely prepared and organised by the Communication Management department.


In May, the day event REFRESH was held for the first time, where alumni and interested practitioners can inform themselves about current research results and exchange ideas. Professor Hoffmann and his team from the Center for Research in Financial Communication, which was founded last year, invite participants to the annual Financial Communication Summit for the first time in September. Numerous heads of investor relations from DAX and MDAX companies follow the call. With the Communication Benchmarking Initiative, Professor Zerfass launches a project that analyses structures, processes, budgets and competencies of communication departments. Around 40 corporations are taking part in the first wave of the survey.


The Triangle cooperation of the department with Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, USA and Hong Kong Baptist University, established in previous years, is extended at a ceremony in Hong Kong. In one-week capstone classes at the three locations, students work together on communication projects and thus expand their intercultural competence. The cooperation will be successfully continued until the global pandemic in 2020.

Professor Dr Alexander Godulla, who was newly appointed to the Institute and represents the subject of Empirical Communication and Media Research, takes over teaching in the area and expands the team.


The Corporate Reporting Monitor is launched by Professor Hoffmann as the first recurring international study on corporate reporting. The topic of start-up communication is studied in depth, among other things as part of the new Centre for Entrepreneurship Communication. In June, the summer academy of the Bundesverbands Deutscher Kommunikatoren is held at the Villa Ida media campus. Leipzig students and industry representatives from all over Germany will discuss current topics, including with the government spokesperson of the Free State of Saxony and the communications director of Rasenballsport Leipzig.


The Corona pandemic poses great challenges to research and teaching at the Institute in the short term, which are overcome together with a great deal of commitment. Although international contacts and field research are made more difficult, 100 publications are recorded as scientific output at the end of the year. In the summer, the world's largest research programme on corporate communication to date, Value Creating Communication, is concluded with an internationally acclaimed sub-project on agility in communication departments. Three alumni of the department are appointed to professorships in Germany, Austria and Denmark. Dr. Cornelia Wolf is appointed university professor for online communication on 1 October after a successful evaluation.


At the beginning of the year, which continues to be marked by the pandemic, results of the Communications Trend Radar are presented for the first time. The project annually identifies developments in technology, management and society with relevance for the management level of communication departments.

The excellence of research at the Leipzig Institute is underlined by awards for scientific contributions at specialist conferences or in journals as well as personal awards for scientists from the team:

EUPRERA Annual Congress (Virtual), Brussels, Belgium
Daniel Ziegele & Ansgar Zerfass

Dissertation Award – PR and Organisational Communication
German Communication Association (DGPuK) & Springer VS
Dr. Luisa Winkler

EUPRERA Annual Congress, Zagreb, Croatia
Markus Wiesenberg, Alexander Godulla, Katharina Tengler, Inga-Marit Noelle, Julia Kloss, Natalie Klein & David Eeckhout

PhD Award for Excellent Doctoral Thesis
European Public Relations Education and Research Association, Brussels
Dr. Evandro Oliveira

International Public Relations Research Conference, Orlando, USA
Sophia Charlotte Volk & Ansgar Zerfass

International Public Relations Research Conference, Orlando, USA
Markus Wiesenberg & Dejan Verčič

EUPRERA Annual Congress, Aarhus, Denmark
Karolin Köhler & Ansgar Zerfass

European Public Relations Education and Research Association, Brussels (Lifetime Award)
Ansgar Zerfass

Best article in Journal of Communication Management 2017
Ansgar Zerfass & Christine Viertmann

International Public Relations Research Conference, Orlando, USA
Yi-Ru Regina Chen, Shannon A. Bowen, Chun-Ju Flora Hung-Baesecke, Ansgar Zerfass & Ben Boyd

Public Relations Society of America, Atlanta (Personal Award)
Ansgar Zerfass

EUPRERA Annual Congress, Groningen/Amsterdam, Netherlands
Cristina Navarro, Ángeles Moreno & Ansgar Zerfass

Corporate Communications International Conference, New York, USA
Ansgar Zerfass & Christine Viertmann

International Public Relations Research Conference, Miami, USA
Sophia Charlotte Volk

International Public Relations Research Conference, Miami, USA
Ansgar Zerfass, Dejan Verčič & Sophia Charlotte Volk

International Public Relations Research Conference, Miami, USA
Ansgar Zerfass, Dejan Verčič & Sophia Charlotte Volk

EUPRERA Annual Congress, Oslo, Norway
Markus Wiesenberg

Institute for Public Relations, New York (Personal Award)
Ansgar Zerfass

EUPRERA Annual Congress, Brussels, Belgium
Ansgar Zerfass, Dejan Verčič & Markus Wiesenberg

International Public Relations Research Conference, Miami, USA
Ansgar Zerfass & Muschda Sherzada

International Public Relations Research Conference, Miami, USA
Ansgar Zerfass & Dana Melanie Schramm

International Public Relations Research Conference, Miami, USA
Ansgar Zerfass & Dana Melanie Schramm

EUPRERA Annual Congress, Istanbul, Turkey
Jerry Swerling, Kjerstin Thorson & Ansgar Zerfass

International Public Relations Research Conference, Miami, USA
Ansgar Zerfass & Neele Franke

EUPRERA Annual Congress, Leeds, UK
Lisa Dühring & Anne Linke

PhD Award for Excellent Doctoral Thesis
European Public Relations Education and Research Association
Dr. Howard Nothhaft

International Public Relations Research Conference, Miami, USA
Ansgar Zerfass, Anne Linke & Stephan Fink

University of Giessen
Ansgar Zerfass

An overview of research projects, awards, events, publications, dissertations, thesis topics and the respective active team is provided by the annual reports of the research and teaching area Communication Management published since 2010. Available here as PDF files for viewing and downloading.

This might also interest you


Read more


Read more