College PR Manager Leads by Example
A drive for promoting public relations as a mindset that nurtures the positive growth of an organisation’s reputation is the main ingredient behind College of Law and Management Studies Public Relations Manager, Ms Hazel Langa, to not only graduate with her Master’s, but also be the KZN Regional Chair of the Marketing, Advancement and Communication in Education (MACE).
MACE aims to fulfil a leadership role in the Higher-Education sector within southern Africa by adding value to practitioners in marketing, advancement and communication in 2018.
‘The state of marketing communications in South Africa is developing at a rapid pace and as communications practitioners, we have to change with it or risk being irrelevant. Therefore, to be able to effectively deliver on the strategic direction of the College’s brand identity, I have to keep abreast of the latest developments in this field by not only learning in the classroom, but also from other practitioners. With the new knowledge gained from this qualification, combined with the experience I will gather during my term as the KZN MACE Chair, I am confident that I will be successful in both these areas,’ said Langa.
Having joined UKZN as an Events Co-ordinator 14 years ago, Langa continued growing her leadership potential since being appointed College PR Manager in 2011 which was followed by a six-month tenure of being UKZN’s Director of University Relations in 2017. Her passion for communications development is not only limited to the Higher Education sector as her thesis: The Assessment of Communication in Local Government within eThekwini Municipality shines a spotlight on the communication gaps that exist within local government and their negative effect on service delivery. The study was supervised by Professor Purshottama Reddy.
Langa’s study looked at the conceptual, theoretical and legislative framework governing communications in local government with the aim to enable local municipalities to strengthen communication with local citizens. Findings revealed three major factors impeding the effectiveness of communication in the Municipality, namely: poor response and apathy from citizens that stifles participatory communication; political dynamics and cynicism which lead to messages being viewed as propaganda; and budgetary constraints which dictate the level of engagement with local communities.
The study recommended strengthening of ward committee structures as they are the closest to the communities; growing the use of digital and online communication tools so the City keeps abreast with the changing communications consumption patterns of its citizens; a concerted effort in reaching out to despondent citizens; and a need to strengthen the associations with the media as it drives messages to the masses.
‘I’m pleased that I have contributed to knowledge generation within my City as I will be sharing the findings of the study with the Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE) in the near future so that the outcomes can be attended to,’ said Langa. Working with her supervisor, Langa is currently in the process of converting her dissertation into a research article for publication in an accredited academic journal. She said, ‘I will always be indebted to my supportive supervisor, Professor P S Reddy, for his encouragement, patience and academic wisdom which developed my thinking and academic writing skills. His insights in public governance have broadened my understanding and appreciation of local government,’ adding that she is grateful to UKZN for creating an environment which empowered her to grow intellectually.
'The journey towards the completion of this dissertation would not have been possible without contributions and input from my family, colleagues and friends. It was such an honour and a humbling experience to realise just how many people are interested in my professional and academic development,' she added.
Words: Thandiwe Jumo email@example.com
Photograph: Rogan Ward