Image and reputation

This thematic area examines how public perceptions of Liverpool – and the portrayal of the city in the media – have changed in the years before and after it became the ECoC, with a view to determining whether the event has had any long-term impact in these respects. Our research here has involved content analysis of press coverage, focus groups with local residents, and surveys of both the local and national population.

A number of methodological tools were employed by Impacts 08 in its examination of the impact of the ECoC on representations and perceptions of Liverpool locally, nationally and internationally. Impacts 18 has placed particular emphasis on the longitudinal analysis of press coverage – a core building block of the original evaluation. Perception data has been gathered via our Neighbourhood Impacts and Visitor Survey projects.

Press Narrative Impacts

Impacts 08 provided valuable empirical evidence of the impact that bidding for and hosting an ECoC can have on the image of its host city, covering the period 1996-2008. In examining the legacies of the ECoC 10 years on, the Impacts 18 programme is aiming to understand:

  • how frequently, and in what context, the Liverpool ECoC is still referred to in the UK national press;
  • what legacies or after-effects, if any, hosting an ECoC may have on the trajectory of national press coverage on its host city.

The project is divided into two strands:

  • Coverage about Liverpool in general. The aim here is to establish an understanding of how press references to Liverpool have evolved over time, regardless of whether they include explicit reference to the ECoC. This strand covers a sample of 5,783 articles (an average of 10% of all relevant coverage) published between 1996 and 2017. Data on 2018 is still being collated.
  • Coverage mentioning the Liverpool ECoC specifically. The aim here is to understand how Liverpool is referred to in the context of the ECoC programme specifically, so as to identify dominant narratives and ECoC associations that may explain noticeable variations in generic city coverage (above) and thus changes in the ways the city is represented at large. This strand covers all articles published on Liverpool as ECoC, amounting to 1,739 between 2000 and 2017.

Emerging findings

People’s perceptions

We have assessed local perceptions of Liverpool as an ECoC through repeated surveys across four representative neighbourhoods (Aigburth, City Centre, Kirkdale and Knotty Ash). We have also assessed national perceptions through a survey of 2,007 UK residents in 2018.

Our research asked

  • How have public perceptions of Liverpool changed over the pre- and post-ECoC period?
  • What impact does the ECoC itself appear to have had on these changes?

Emerging findings







impact_logo livjmu_logo livuni_logo