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Information on the latest state of research and exchange on practical issues with the leading German think tank for strategic communication management. This was the motto of this year's REFRESH conference on communication management, which took place in Leipzig on 12 April 2024. This time at the Westbad Leipzig, together with the subsequent 18th LPRS Forum.

Around 60 alumni and researchers from the Communication Management research area took advantage of the one-day event to discuss current developments and challenges in the dynamic field of strategic communication management.

Cornelia Wolf, Daniel Ziegele and Judith Funke shed light on whether the establishment of strategic communication plays a central but often subordinate role in start-ups. In the research transfer project, communication managers in 30 scale-ups were interviewed in order to record the communication service portfolio in growing start-ups holistically for the first time and to cluster it according to its contribution to company development and success as part of the first start-up communication compass. This also made it possible to work out the special features of strategic communication in start-ups in contrast to approaches that have been developed and tested for established companies.

What others in the company think about communications departments and which strategies CCOs use to position their teams internally was shown in a preview of practice-relevant study results by Ansgar Zerfaß, Jana Brockhaus and Simona Gulich. In the research transfer project, 1,147 top managers, middle managers and employees in large companies were asked about their assessments of their respective communications departments. The results are as exciting as they are sobering. In addition, 32 experienced communication managers (CCOs) were interviewed. How they proceed to clarify the work of their own team in their own organisation, gain acceptance and respect and ultimately influence was explored. The study is currently being analysed further and will be published in July 2024.

Alexander Godulla shed light on strategies for dealing with deepfakes in communication. Deepfakes are also playing an increasingly important role in communications management. Anyone who represents an organisation in public can become the target of a deepfake at any time. Real risks were shown as well as how they can be assessed and how they can be averted.

Christian Hoffmann provided insights into the diversity of perspectives in journalism: reasons, limits and challenges for communicators. The lecture provided an overview of empirical analyses on the diversity of perspectives in journalism - and reflected on implications for strategic communication in particular.

Lina Blenninger was also honoured as the winner of the annual Günter Thiele Prize for the best Master's thesis in the fields of communication management, public relations and strategic communication at the University of Leipzig. In her master's thesis, she focussed on ethical conflicts in the use of artificial intelligence in communication. She not only developed a framework of ethical areas of conflict, but also practical solutions. The jury also awarded the Günter Thiele Research Scholarship for doctoral students to Caroline Siegel for her research work on the adaptation of maturity models in corporate communication.

With REFRESH, the Communication Management department offers an annual platform for dialogue on a professional and research field that is developing faster and more dynamically than almost any other. Both the practice- and research-relevant presentations and the exchange outside of the official programme gave alumni of the institute the opportunity to gain new impulses for their everyday professional life and to refresh their knowledge in the field of corporate and organisational communication.