Kata Apáti-Tóth has been the Head of Communication at the Corvinus University of Budapest since October 2019. Previously she worked as a host of television programmes on politics and public life, then acted as the spokesperson of the Hungarian Post, and before joining the University, she was the Communications Director of MOL Hungary. In our discussion she revealed what had surprised her most when she started to work for the University, she mentioned the Corvinus feeling, and why they selected the raven as the key element of the new image.
What are you most proud of from the past one year?
If I am supposed to say one thing, it is my team. When I started to work here in October last year, four people were working on the communication tasks of the University, and now our team consists of 15 full-time employees and 15 students. Cooperation with the students works very well, as we get first-hand experience on issues we have to communicate, and it is very useful that they always add their own points of view to the work. In addition, this is coupled with an incredibly creative way of thinking.
What surprised you most when you started to work for the Corvinus in October last year?
The lack of an integrated communication strategy. I found that the structure of disconnected faculties forced individual organisational units to spend a lot of their energy on their own communication, and this is not a criticism at all, as nothing fell short of the requirements in that system.
In the course of the renewal, however, the Corvinus University set itself the target of becoming one of the top universities in Central Europe, therefore the organisational unit responsible for communication also has to rise to this task. Similarly to a large company, we present the whole University as a uniform brand to the outside world, and we have to build the relevant strategy step by step. My approach is that the communication team has to represent every organisational unit and every citizen of the University.
How do your colleagues take these changes?
I can feel a strong support on their part. The meetings I attend are always constructive, including our recent discussions about the new image. Positive opinions, as well as constructive criticisms all reach me, and it is very good to have both within the organisation.
You mentioned the new image. What was the process of working out the final version, and why was the raven as a motive given such a prominent part in it?
We are a university with impressive traditions, but on the way to renewal, so we were expected to develop an image that respects traditions and has an innovative character at the same time. In our temporary image, we used a lot of light and vivid colours, which triggered a lot of criticism, so we wanted to turn to more classic colours.
At the same time, we did not wish to create an abstract image that is hard to grasp, but wanted a motive that would make it easier for the outside world to recognise the University. One of the creative agencies that participated in the competition interviewed several hundreds of students of ages 18-23, asking them to name an animal that could identify the Corvinus, and the raven had an overwhelming victory. Another point in this issue was whether we would be recognised on the international market with this image, and the researches of the agency proved that we could build on the raven motive abroad, too. We looked at at least 50-60 versions of logos, and after a lot of changes, we reached a point where we accepted the final version. The decision was made by the extended Brand Committee, in which both the academic and the service provider areas are presented on behalf of the management of the University, so it is probably fair to say that a wide agreement was reached about the recently presented version. This is important because the image is a cornerstone of integrated communication and an important compass in connection with the brand of the whole University.
Where can we meet the new image?
From now on, the citizens of the University will come across it everywhere. Now this is the image you can see on social media interfaces, in communication materials and campaigns, and we have already agreed with the operators that the logos would be replaced on the buildings, too, so it will soon happen.
Who are the target groups of the University, and how can you reach them?
We have several target groups, let me start with the external ones. Our primary audience is the pupils of the best Hungarian secondary schools, some of whom will be our students, but the parents and the teachers of these pupils are at least as important for us. As the objective of the strategy of the University is to educate the economic and social elite of Hungary and Central Europe, the political and economic leaders are also included in our target audience, as they will be the employers of our students. Another external target group includes the alunmni, and as a lot of current company managers studied at the Corvinus, they can also be the employers of the present students of the University.
Our internal target group includes students, as well as our staff working in academic and support areas. It is imperative to segregate target groups and ensure targeted communication, as there is a lot of noise around us these days, so if we do not send the right message to the right target group, the information will be lost.
In order to make sure that the information reaches its destination, we make all our channels measurable, and continuously analyse incoming data and make changes where necessary. It takes a lot of experiments and flexibility to optimize the channels.
The development of research is a strategic objective at the University. How are you planning to communicate that?
We would like to achieve a situation in which our colleagues immediately think of the communication team when they have a newsworthy research result. The press is hungry for such topics, and I am sure that the national press would also be open to this, It is an extremely difficult task to describe thorough research briefly and in clear language, but we are happy to help any colleague.
What are the key objectives of the communication team for 2021?
We would like to get even closer to our colleagues and deepen our embeddedness within the organisation, and we intend to gain a better understanding of the organisation and the processes. We wish to define the Corvinus feeling, too, and make people experience it as much as possible, as it will become a real identity only if more and more people are able to identify themselves with it. In addition, it is an important objective to continuously supply up-to-date information to the citizens of the University. We should not forget that students and teachers are the most authentic spokespersons, therefore it is their opinion that will primarily determine the picture about the University. This is why we bear a huge responsibility in determining the ways we inform them about our processes.