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18 June 2021

'Best COVID Response' awarded to King's and ZOE

Communications teams receive prestigious award, supporting the effort to give scientists real time data to fight COVID.

CIPR Winner
Best COVID Response (In-House)

The communications professionals behind the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app at King’s College London and ZOE, have been awarded the ‘Best COVID Response (In-House)’ by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). Tanya Wood, Head of News and Media at King’s College London, Rebecca Lewis, Senior News and Campaigns Officer for the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, and Eleanor Griffiths, Communications Manager at ZOE COVID study, have all been recognised for their efforts. 

In this year’s CIPR Excellence Awards, three new categories were added to the original 31 to recognise the new world in which the profession has been navigating in response to COVID.

The ZOE COVID Symptom Study app is a not-for-profit initiative that launched at the end of March 2020 to support vital COVID research. The app was launched by health science company ZOE with scientific analysis provided by King’s. Now, with over 4 million contributors globally, the Study is the world’s largest ongoing study of COVID-19 and is led by Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London and ZOE Co-Founder, Tim Spector.

Communications teams at King’s and ZOE launched a campaign to promote the app, across the media and social media, which inspired the CIPR Excellence judges ‘by its ambition and obvious determination by the entrants that they could do good in the world.’

The CIPR judges said: ‘At the time of launch, there was little understanding of Covid and its symptoms, and widespread public confusion over how and when they would be affected by the virus. The ZOE Covid Study app not only provided scientists, the government and the public with reliable and emerging data, it also provided a sense of community and empowerment for everyone to be involved in battling the pandemic. The integration of media relations, social media and wider public relations were exemplary, with the results speaking for themselves. Professor Tim Spector was a trustworthy spokesperson and someone with whom everyone could connect, establishing an important qualitative input into a data-reliant initiative.’

Tanya Wood, Head of News and Media at King’s College London, said: ‘I am absolutely thrilled that our team has won this prestigious public relations award for our work promoting the COVID Symptom Study app. It’s a real privilege to work on a campaign in which King’s scientists and academics are producing real-time and truly life-changing research into COVID-19. This includes the discovery that loss of taste and smell - anosmia - is a highly predictive symptom and which led to the government adding this onto the official list of COVID-19 symptoms in May 2020.'

Eleanor Griffiths, Communications Manager at ZOE COVID study: ‘The ZOE COVID Study app was built by the amazing teams at ZOE and King’s over an exhausting weekend. It’s thanks to their knowledge, expertise, and bravery that the app was created. But, its success is down to the millions of people who log on every day to tell us how they feel. Without them, we wouldn’t have anything to communicate. In the early days, we took the decision to put them first, keeping them informed on what their data was helping us uncover. In doing that, they repaid us with their loyalty and the rest followed. It’s been a difficult year for everyone but having this project to work on has been the light inside of the darkness.’

Rebecca Lewis, Senior News and Campaigns Officer for the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, said: “I couldn’t be prouder of our work on the Zoe COVID Symptom study app. Working with leading researchers from King’s has been hugely inspiring in such a challenging year. This award is testament to the need to be agile and responsive during times of crisis and how impactful communications can be.”

To find out more about the app, the research, the findings so far, and how you can contribute to advance vital research on COVID-19, visit the COVID Symptom Tracker app website.

In this story

Professor Tim Spector

Professor of Genetic Epidemiology


Professor of Ageing and Health

Professor Sebastien Ourselin FREng

Professor of Healthcare Engineering