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Govt. media course brings energetic mix to SPI

Date Released: Fri, 9 December 2016 10:41 +0200

GRAHAMSTOWN, South Africa -- Between 21-25 November 2016 the SPI welcomed a group of energetic government media officials to Grahamstown for the Government Media Course.

We asked five of the participants from the group of 12 three questions about the course to get a taste of what they experienced:

Joy Peter

Rhodes alumni, Joy Peter comes from Port Elizabeth and since graduating moved from her long-time home in the Eastern Cape to Gauteng. She is currently working as the Spokesperson for the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, a position she has held since November 2013. “I like referring to myself as a communicator because that is what I am. I don’t like the skewed perception that goes with the spokesperson title,” Peter says.

Q: Why did you decide to come to the SPI short course and how will it be beneficial to you in your workplace?


A: I really needed additional information about government communication in general to gauge whether I'm on the right track or not because the bulk of my work experience is from the private sector. I thought hearing from others and acquiring further skills would assist me in my current position and, yes, I think the knowledge and information received will be of added value to my position/job.

 Q: What are the difficulties you face personally in your workplace when dealing with the media? 

A: Personally, it has to be unreasonable deadlines and internal teams' lack of trust and faith in the media resulting in them withholding information which should be in the public domain. Media is sometimes treated with hostility and not trusted, so I'm constantly convincing internal members to perceive media differently because the media can be of help, especially in publicizing our programmes and messages because their footprint/ reach is wider than ours. 

 Q: How have you been liking the course? Which parts have stood out the most to you?

A: I thoroughly enjoyed my week at Rhodes. The collaborative aspect of the course remains my highlight. The fact that we listened to each other, shared personal experiences and tried to come up with solutions to our respective challenges was a cherry on top. It wasn't your typical classroom format where you're expected to simply listen and given little time for questions or discussions. 

 Mmakgabo Ramahlodi

Mmakgabo Ramahlodi is from Polokwane, Limpopo, and has been the Outreach and Training Officer with the Electoral Commission for the past six years. He did a BSc with UNISA and an MBA from MANCOSA before he went on to receive a certificate in International Business and Leadership Management from the Shanghai University of Internal Business and Economics in China.

Q: Why did you decide to come to the SPI short course and how will it be beneficial to you in your workplace?

A: I decided to enrol for the SPI short course because I did not have formal training/qualification in Communication, which is at the core of my work key responsibilities. Having already attended this course, it has equipped me with skills and techniques essential for an effective communicator. This has empowered me to excel in my job as an Outreach and Training Officer.

Q: What are the difficulties you face personally in your workplace when dealing with the media?

A: The Media usually request an interview on a particular issue while they already have a story formulated, often without understanding the legislation that governs our business as the Electoral Commission, which usually impacts on the interpretation of everything that we do. Therefore, I  always carry my legislation booklet with me so that I can always refer them to the relevant legislation when responding to their queries.

 Q: How have you been liking the course? Which parts have stood out the most to you?

A: The parts of the course which stood out for me include the following:

 - the interactive and practical manner in which the facilitator, Mr Sepotokele, delivered the course; 
 - Transformational Leadership Style with its four factors and i's;
 - Understanding the Media and Government Communication (How to handle the Media);
 - Developing Ethics for Communicators and reflecting on some of the bad and good practices (understanding a brand and the role of a Communicator    in building and upholding it);
 - Defining the news and Handling Media Campaigns; and
 - just the diverse mixture of participants in terms of industry and personality.

 ‌Nomaswazi Shongwe

Born in Lesotho and raised in Johannesburg, Nomaswazi Shongwe studied at the University of Johannesburg and then went on to work as a Media Liaison at the Eskom media desk where he has now been employed for the past three years.

Q: Why did you decide to come to the SPI short course and how will it be beneficial to you in your workplace?

A: I attended the SPI short course because I felt it would be a great opportunity for me to expand my knowledge within the media space. I also felt it would be a great opportunity to hear from other professionals within my career field. The course will be beneficial to me because it will expand my skills in knowing how to deal with challenges that come up in my workplace. Using the skills that I have learnt and also hearing from individuals outside of the company I work for was very insightful.

 Q: What are the difficulties you face personally in your workplace when dealing with the media? 

A: I think one of my biggest challenges would be having to work with time lines and deadlines that are sometimes beyond your control. When responding to media queries, we usually need approvals from our executives and specialists and these may sometimes come a little bit later than planned and one would need to manage that in a way that does not damage the company’s reputation.

 Q: How have you been liking the course? Which parts have stood out the most to you?

A: I absolutely enjoyed the course. The group was just the right size and the interactive nature of the course was a great way to learn. The leadership aspect was quite informative as well as the editorial independence section. These stood out the most for me because I felt it may have been where I was most lacking.

 Bulelwa Ganyaza

A local of Alice in the Eastern Cape, Bulelwa Ganyaza studied and worked for the University of Fort Hare until she started a job at Nkonkobe Municipality (now Raymond Mhlaba Municipality) as a Public Relations Officer. In 2012 she started as the Senior Manager: media liaison/spokesperson at the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, a positions she holds up to today.

Q: Why did you decide to come to the SPI short course and how will it be beneficial to you in your workplace?

A: I registered for the course to equip myself with the relevant skills and knowledge to navigate the ever changing media environment. My aim was to acquire practical skills and key insights to deal with the complex challenges that I normally encounter in the workplace.

Q: What are the difficulties you face personally in your workplace when dealing with the media?
A: What mostly concerns me is that the media is very selective and is perceived as being hostile. The media deadlines are sometimes tight to meet and there is a tendency for the press to dwell on stories that are sensational, some with misleading headlines. There is also poor coverage of important government milestones as these receive little or no attention, and there is the leaking of confidential information to the media from unknown sources. Non-adherence to media policy and chain of command within the institution when dealing with the media is also a concern.

Q: How have you been liking the course? Which parts have stood out the most to you?
A: The course is a must-to-attend by all government communicators to acquire key insights on how to engage with the media. Thursday’s session of role plays where different scenarios were presented to us stood out for me. The session made us to think on our feet and to know our craft. We also developed a Code of Ethics for Government Communicators which will help us to be better public servants. In reality, the whole course package was meaningful and eye opening. Attending this course will certainly help increase the coverage of Legislature programmes and improve the public’s understanding of these issues.  

Khulu Phasiwe

I live in Randburg, Johannesburg. I studied at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) with majors in International Relations, English and African Studies. My post-graduate studies were also at Wits University, specialising in Publishing Studies.

Q: What is your current job and how long have you been in this position?

A: I am currently the National Spokesperson for Eskom, a position I have formally held for over a year now. Before this role, I was a deputy spokesperson for about a year but I had become a de facto spokesperson as there was no spokesperson at the time.

Q:  Why did you decide to come to the SPI short course and how will it be beneficial to you in your workplace?

A: I knew about the SPI short course from some of my associates who had attended the course before, and therefore I did not need any convincing when the opportunity arose for me to attend. For me, the issues around ethics are key because in our environment these issues can either make or break your reputation. Ethics are to me like oxygen: having scant regard or little regard of them is not good for your professional being.

Q:  What are the difficulties you face personally in your workplace when dealing with the media?

A: I have a wonderful team that supports me and therefore I do not have any difficulties at this stage.

Q:  How have you been liking the course? Which parts have stood out the most to you?

A: The part about ethics, and the other was about leadership. The two are interlinked in many ways, and they have made a huge imprint on my work as an individual and as a professional.

 For more information about the SPI’s short courses, please visit http://www.ru.ac.za/spi/studying/ or contact Nomfundo Sobukwe (n.sobukwe@ru.ac.za), telephone 046-603-8949.

 

Source:Rhodes SPI