The Günter Thiele Prize

  • The Günter Thiele Prize is awarded annually for outstanding master theses written at the University of Leipzig. It is awarded to pieces of work which have been seen to address topics in the field of public relations or communication management in a particularly innovative way.
  • The Jury is made up of Professor Günter Bentele, Professor Bernd Schuppener and Dr. Christine Viertmann.

 “I’m really impressed by the theses written by the students at the University of Leipzig - theoretically very sophisticated, but without losing sight of their practical relevance.” 

                                                      Günter F. Thiele

Prize holders 2022

Master: Julia Kloß

Julia Kloß: Corporate Activism: Short-term Hype or Sustainable Activism? A Mixed-Method Approach to Researching Socio-Political Positioning of Corporations

Julia Kloß addressed the topic of corporate activism as part of her master's thesis with the help of a quantitative content analysis and expert interviews. The aim was to find out whether and how German companies participate in the discussion of controversial sociopolitical issues. A total of 693 posts from 46 of the 300 largest German companies were subjected to content analysis. Expert interviews were conducted with ten communication managers from companies who position themselves on the topic. The communicators attribute growing relevance to social engagement of this kind and identify a wide variety of challenges and potentials associated with it.

Prize holders 2021

Bachelor: Björn Borchardt | Master: Jeanne Link

Björn Borchardt: Influence of communication on companies' ability to innovate 

Björn Borchardt, a graduate of the bachelor's degree program in Communication and Media Studies at the University of Leipzig, examined the role of communication in innovation management in his bachelor's thesis. In nine expert interviews with representatives of innovation and communication departments of companies, the following advantages of close communication support could be described: Orientation to stakeholder interests, creation of internal attention for innovations, faster dissemination of ideas within the company and accelerated communication between departments and teams. 

Jeanne Link: Sources of power and potential for influence in communication management

Jeanne Link, a graduate of the Communication Management master's program at the University of Leipzig, analyzed how communication managers deal with ethical dilemmas in digital communication practice. With the help of a quantitative online survey of German communications managers, typical situations were played out in three scenarios addressing the use of clickbaiting, microtargeting and social bots. The results of the study show that the moral awareness of the majority of respondents is very high. 



Prize holders 2020

Bachelor: Laura Steglich | Master: Jan Reinholz

Laura Steglich: Chatbots in corporate communication

Laura Steglich, a graduate of the bachelor's program in communication and media studies at the University of Leipzig, used an interdisciplinary literature study to investigate possible applications of chatbots for internal corporate communication. The candidate sees potential in chatting with text-based dialogue systems for a targeted personal approach to current and potential employees. At the same time, Steglich also points to the limits of communication, for example, through open questions about data protection.

Jan Reinholz: Sustainability in capital market communication

Jan Reinholz, a graduate of the master's course in Communication Management at the University of Leipzig, discussed in his master's thesis the management of the communication of sustainability issues to the capital market in listed companies. On the basis of 19 expert interviews with investor relations managers and sustainability officers, he describes how sustainability issues are handled in the area of financial communication. The results show the challenge of ESG communication (environmental, social and governance), which requires more coordination and also an expansion of the range of roles in the area of investor relations.


Prize holders 2019

Bachelor: Anna Pirus | Master: Sebastian Jansen

Anna Pirus: Employer branding of start-up companies

Anna Pirus, a graduate of the bachelor's programme in communication and media science at Leipzig University, wrote her bachelor's thesis about employer branding of start-up companies, focusing on the online communication of young companies in the IT sector. After a small preliminary study with expert interviews, she carried out a quantitative content analysis of the websites of start-ups. The results of the study showed that 80 percent of the start-up companies use employer branding instruments. Especially, longer existing start-ups use more employer branding instruments than younger ones.

Sebastian Jansen: Sources of power and influence of communication management

Sebastian Jansen, a graduate of the Master's programme in Communication Management at Leipzig University, discussed in his master's thesis the sources of power and influence that are available for communication management in organizations from a micro-political perspective. Expert power, information power and structural power are examples, which communication management can use to expand its areas of activity for instance. His analytical-theoretical approach opens up a new perspective on the positioning of communication management within organizations.

Prize holders 2018

Bachelor: Paulo Govinda Thelen I Master: Karolin Köhler

Paulo Govinda Thelen: Influencer Marketing

BA graduate Paulo Thelen's thesis “Influencer Marketing: The knowledge of persuasion of young consumers” is a relatively new field in communication science. He focused on Influencer Marketing from the perspective of young recipients.


Karolin Köhler: Communicating corporate strategy

In her master thesis “Communicating corporate strategies. An international benchmark analysis of listed corporations” Karolin Köhler analyzed the strategy communication of big corporations with a content analysis of their corporate websites.

Prize holders 2017

Bachelor: Lena Lülfing I Master: Lena Schneider

Lena Lülfing: Culture PR in transformation

BA graduate Lena Lülfing’s thesis “Culture PR in transformation. Growing professionalization in PR for art and culture on the basis of selected music festivals” focused on a previously unexplored area of research in the field communication management. She analyzed the changing conditions for cultural event organizers and the impact these have had on the role of PR work in art and culture. According to jury member Bernd Schuppener, “Ms. Lüfling has researched this topic extremely thoroughly and conducted successful interviews with nine experts.”


Lena Scheider: Corporate communications and polyphony

In her master thesis “Corporate communications and polyphony – interdisciplinary theoretical principles and concepts” Lena Schneider presented the musical concept of polyphony as a solution to the challenge of an increasingly decentralized corporate communications. The master thesis explicitly avoided using empirical methods in order to focus fully on the theoretical concept of polyphony. The concept was very well received by the international academic community as well as by corporate communication departments.

Prize holders 2016

Bachelor: Denise Weigelt | Master: Maria Borner


Denise Weigelt: The PR Oath

In her bachelor thesis “The PR Oath – About the usability of a PR oaths for prospective communication managers” Denise Weigelt examined the importance of codices in the public relations industry and the likelihood of a PR oath. According to the jury, Ms. Weigelt chose a very innovative topic and demonstrated significant efforts to interview five experts in the field of PR ethics.


Maria Borner: Corporate listening in corporate communications

In her master thesis “Corporate listening in corporate communications. Theoretical concepts of organizational listening as a strategic communication mode“ Maria Borner dealt with the innovative topic of organizational listening and value creation. Alongside analyzing existing publications, she also developed her own ambitious theoretical concept. Maria Borner, who completed her master’s program in summer 2016, also worked on other research projects in the Department for Strategic Communication during her studies.

Prize holders 2014

Bachelor: Maike Lehnhoff | Master: Kevin Reisig

Maike Lehnhoff: Role models for career planning in communication management

In her bachelor thesis “Role models for career planning in communication management” Maike Lehnhoff analyzed the importance of role models for students and alumni and in doing so explored an innovative topic for research on the profession. According to the jury, her thesis stood out with its interdisciplinary approach and comprehensive interviews series with students and alumni of the University of Leipzig. After finishing her Bachelor, Maike Lehnhoff continued her Master studies in Communication Management at the University of Leipzig.
She is still involved in research and is currently working on a follow-up study in the Department of Strategic Communication.

Kevin Reißig: Political communication on a state level

In his master thesis “Political communication on a state level” Kevin Reißig conducted a quantitative and qualitative comparative study into communication management and its success at state-level organizations in Germany. The jury said: “He creates a comprehensive picture of communication management and its actors on a state level (ministries, state chancelleries, parliaments, fractions, and parties), and focuses on players who up to now have largely been ignored by political researchers.”. Kevin Reißig completed his master’s program as the best in class and is now working in the field of political communication in Dresden.

Prize holders 2013

Bachelor: Anika Müller | Master: Doreen Adolph

Anika Müller: Investor Relations and Social Media

In her bachelor thesis Anika Müller analyzed the practice of financial communication in social media in Germany, the US, Great Britain, France and Japan. Conducting a content analysis she examined the investor relations activities on the social media platforms of 190 companies listed on the stock exchange. The jury said: “For a bachelor thesis, the empirical work is of extraordinary quality. The empirical work is also supplemented with a presentation of best practice examples which will contribute greatly to the professionalization of the field.”

Doreen Adolph: Scenarios of takeover battles in the media

In her master thesis “Scenarios of takeover battles in the media” Doreen Adolph researched empirically how takeovers are framed in the media.  The jury praised the Ms. Adolph for her outstanding competence in financial communication and for her careful implementation of an ambitious empirical Analysis.


Prize holders 2012

Master: Miriam Droller

Miriam Droller: Non-profit organizations in social media/in the social web

In her master thesis Miriam Droller analyzed 100 social media platforms of non-profit organizations in Germany and the US. Professor Ansgar Zerfass and Professor Günter Bentele supervised her work. Her workstood out for its excellent online content analysis.

The jury praised the work’s theoretical foundation and its operationalization of how to build dialogical relationships on the social web. Professor Günter Bentele, chairman of the jury, said: “Ms. Droller developed a Social Web Dialogue Index (SWDI) which can help non-profit organizations to optimize their web presence. Ms. Droller has contributed to the professionalization of an important area of our field.”


Prize holders 2011

Bachelor: Melanie Geräusch | Master: Alexander Klepel

Melanie Gerasch: Financial communication 2.0

Melanie Gerasch’s bachelor thesis provides valuable insights into financial communication on the web 2.0. The jury said: “Ms. Gerasch’s work impressed with its entire set-up and with the extraordinary quality of its empirical analysis.”

Alexander Klepel: Communication experts’ gut instincts

The prize for the best master thesis went to Alexander Klepel for his observational study into communication experts’ gut instincts. The jury said: “Mr. Klepel applied a very innovative scientific method. And we’d like to honor this courageous performance.”

Prize holders 2010

Bachelor: Doreen Adolph | Master: Dr. Christine Viertmann, geb. Wohlgemuth

Doreen Adoplh: Historical communication

In her bachelor thesis Doreen Adolph focused on historical communication and based her work on  the example of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections). “I am very pleased that I had the chance to cooperate with the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden for my case study. Analyzing a well-known cultural institution delivered uncountable insights into historical communication,” said the award winner.

Christine Viertmann: Losing public trust

Christine Viertmann won the prize for the best master thesis for her meticulous work which reconstructed the crisis of confidence that hit UNICEF. She highlighted the interaction between self-perception and external perception: “My thesis visualizes the high expectations placed on an organization that represents the ‘good guy’. For too long the public had been way too naive and trust had been granted too easily. I do hope that my work helps to create a more realistic but also fairer picture of the organization.”

Prize holders 2009

Bachelor: Roman Rühle | Master: Juliane Kiesenbauer, geb. Mühling

Roman Rühle: A communication concept for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Nations in Leipzig

For his bachelor thesis Roman Rühle developed a communication concept for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of the Nations and for the 100th anniversary of the Monument to the Battle of the Nations. “The city of Leipzig has so far not recognized the significance of the double anniversary. My concept has shown that the celebrations would be feasible/possible.That’s why I’m really pleased that the jury selected my work,” said the award winner.

Juliane Kiesenbauer: Communication management, employee communities and open innovation

For her master thesis Juliane Kiesenbauer conducted an ambitious company case study that addressed the question of how and why employees engage in internal innovation communities.

Prize holders 2008

Bachelor: Matthias Bartmann | Master: Annekathrin Buhl

Matthias Bartmann: A communication concept for BMW Clean Energy

Matthias Bartmann won the Günter Thiele Prize for his communication concept for BMW Clean Energy: “I couldn’t imagine a better conclusion to my studies at the University of Leipzig. They have enabled me to explore environmental communication in both a practical and theoretical way.”

Annekathrin Buhl: Measurement and evaluation of events

Annekathrin Buhl won the prize for the best master thesis for developing a framework to measure events. “For me the thesis feels like a masterpiece. As students we work with our brains, not with our hands. With my master thesis, however, I canhold something in my hands that is interesting for researchers and practitioners alike. It’s amazing to receive the prize for my work from such renowned researchers,” said the award winner.