Research Focus Areas

At the Professorship for Online Communication, we work within the broad field of communication management and strategic communication on various main topics.

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Research Projects

The demands on the strategic communication of media organizations have increased significantly in recent years due to changed market and social conditions. In times of Pegida and allegations of lying press, media organizations increasingly face the challenge of securing legitimacy and room for scope of action. At the same time, constantly changing technical possibilities and Internet provider structures place new demands on the business models of the organizations. Nadja Enke's dissertation project examines the contribution made by strategic communication in media organizations. The focus of the investigation is on the strategies, structures as well as the organization and implementation of strategic communication.

Influencers are the new stars in Germany's children's and teenagers’ spaces. Together with musicians, they lead the list of the most popular idols not only in Germany, but also in the USA. If nothing else, their popularity makes them sought-after cooperation partners for companies. These hope to get their brand messages across via influencers to increasingly difficult-to-reach teenage audiences. The exploratory study "Persuasion Knowledge of Teenagers regarding Strategic Influencer Communication" by Dr. Nils S. Borchers and Nadja Enke examined the understanding of and attitudes towards paid influencer cooperation among teenagers aged 11 to 15. As part of a more extensive research program on influencer communication at the professorship, this study follows on from the previous year's study on the management of strategic influencer communication, which focused in particular on clients and their agencies. The study is funded by the Günter Thiele Foundation for Communication and Management.

Influencer marketing is one of the most recent and significant new developments in the field of strategic communication. In 2016, 84 percent of US companies said they were planning an influencer campaign in the next 12 months (eMarketer, 2016). The exploratory study "Management of Strategic Influencer Communication" by Dr. Nils S. Borchers and Nadja Enke examined how companies and agencies plan, organize and evaluate their influencer activities. The project report for the study was published in 2018. In this, Nadja Enke and Nils Borchers provide a systematic overview of goals, influencer roles and types, services and rewards, process flows, content production and distribution strategies, selection criteria, control mechanisms, KPIs and measurement methods. See the study results report for more information. 

Social media like Facebook have established themselves as an instrument of corporate communication. Nevertheless, investigations show that Internet and platform-specific potentials are still not sufficiently used to adapt the communicated content to the reception habits of the users. As part of the long-term study on Facebook communication in large German companies, communicative strategies have been collected at four-year intervals since 2012 at the universities of Passau (Michael Johann) and Leipzig (Cornelia Wolf). The third survey wave went into the field at the end of 2018 and analyzes the communication behavior at page and post level of around 100 companies.

Startups are an important economic factor and are highly relevant for Germany as a location for innovation and growth. That is why the academic debate on start-up companies has gained in importance in recent years. In particular, economic aspects and entrepreneurial strategies are regularly taken up and processed. On the other hand, the systematic analysis of the strategic communication at start-ups plays a comparatively subordinate role in academia as well as in practice. External communication with stakeholders such as investors and (potential) customers, but also internal communication in the early stages of institutionalization (seed stage, startup stage) and in the growth phase are of great relevance to the success of the company. In the first step, a joint project by professors Alexander Godulla, Christian Hoffmann, Cornelia Wolf, and Ansgar Zerfaß records the online communication of German startups and examines the communication on their websites and in social networks.

Self-driving cars, intelligent houses, and digital citizen participation: Concepts and applications for sustainable Smart Cities are currently being developed in many cities. But the intelligent city will hardly become a reality without the acceptance and active participation of the people who live in it. In an empirical project consisting of several modules, Professor Cornelia Wolf examines the extent to which the responsible organizations carry out strategic acceptance communication for new technologies in cities. In a first step, the knowledge and attitudes of citizens of Smart City Leipzig were surveyed for new applications.

As part of the annual conference of the German Society for Journalism and Communication Science (DGPuK), Professor Godulla, together with Professor Cornelia Wolf and Professor Ralf Spiller (Macromedia Hochschule Köln), organized a pre-conference in May 2018 on the topic "New Theories of Communication Science". Around 50 academics from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and France dealt with the further and new development of theories and models in communication science during the one-day conference.

On December 3, 2018, the University of Leipzig published its new website, which has been optimized for mobile devices. The online presence is characterized by a number of technical innovations, short navigation paths, a clear and modern design, and the networking of different data sources. Professor Cornelia Wolf and her research assistant Nadja Enke have been supporting the Internet relaunch project since 2015 and the University Communications department in the development process of the website. This included the conception and implementation of market analyses, strategy development, the implementation of usability tests, the conception of the editorial concept, the implementation of training courses, the conception and coordination of the pilot facilities as well as the editorial implementation of the transfer content at the University of Leipzig. With the publication of the central website, the University Communications Office and the Online Communications Professorship have reached an important milestone in the relaunch project. In the coming years, the faculties, institutes and central facilities will be converted to the new system and the website will be continuously developed further in terms of technology, content and design.

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