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Mrs Rene Benecke

Mrs Rene Benecke
Department of Strategic Communication
Senior Lecturer

Contact Details
K green 4 APB      B-Ring 618B APK
011 559 1261 (APB)    011 559 4575 (APK)


BA Communication (UJ – former RAU) in 1983; BA Communication Honours (UJ – former RAU) in 1998; MTech in Public Relations (UJ – former TWR) in 2004. PRISA Certificate in Public Relations Practice in 1990.

Rene is a Senior lecturer in Department of Strategic Communication who started her academic career with the previous Technikon Witwatersrand in 1996 (TWR merged with RAU in 2005) following 12 years industry experience as public relations manager and fundraiser. Her specializations include experiential learning, public relations and communication. She is coordinating various work integrated learning placements for students and community engagements. She also mentors the Students' Public Relations Association (SPRA). She is currently Vice-President of the professional body the Public Relations Association of Southern Africa (PRISA) with the portfolio Education, Training and Research. She is also completing her D Lit Phil Corporate Communication with the topic "The social representation of PR activism in early career South African Public Relations Practitioners" under supervision of Prof Sonja Verwey. Rene believes in providing students with the opportunity to make a difference in society through their experiential learning actions. Her community involvement includes the development of young practitioners through active citizenship. Students are placed and mentored at various social organisations with the aim of developing entrepreneurial opportunities for them and the communities around them.

Research Interests: Rene's research interests include activism, reflective practice and learning, experiential learning, student engagement, community relations and internal communication.

Achievements: (if relevant)

Long Service awards received in 2006 and 2016.

Coordinated a Twitter Take Over project with LeadSA conducted as part of the Izindaba Zokutla 2016 and PPR2002 module. The project was a semi-finalist in New Generations Awards and won a PRISA PRISM Award in April 2017.

Journal publications

D.R.; Simpson, Z.; Le Roux, S.; Skinner, C.J.; Janse van Rensburg, N.; Sibeko, J.; Bvuma, S.; Meyer, J. 2017. "Cultural intermediaries and the circuit of culture: The Digital Ambassadors project in Johannesburg, South Africa. Public Relations Review, 43, pp.26–34.

Verwey S., Benecke D.R., Muir C. 2017. Purpose and practice: educating PR professionals for the future. Communicare: Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa, Mar 2017, Vol 36, Issue 1, pp. 67-78.

Books and chapters in books

Co-authored the 10th edition of The Handbook of Public Relations with Skinner, C and Mersham, G. Oxford University Press, November 2013. ISBN 978 0 199 05849 5.

Co-authored a chapter with Skinner C in 2014 titled 'South Africa', in T. Watson (ed) Middle Eastern and African Perspectives on the Development of Public Relations: Other Voices. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Research team member for the new Public Relations Landscape Study for South Africa, commissioned by the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management. Published in March 2015.

Co-authored a chapter with Dr Lida Holtzhausen in a Routledge publication titled "Public Relations in the NPO Sector in South Africa". Communicating Causes. Strategic Public Relations for Non-Profit Organisations. N. Carsten & I. Bruce (eds). ISBN978-0-8153-9400-6.

Conference participation (in the last 5 years):

Co-authored and presented a conference paper for the 2014 World Public Relations Forum held in September 2014 in Madrid, Spain tilted "Changing conversation and dialogue through LeadSA: an example of public relations activism in South Africa".

Research team member of the Digital Ambassadors Research team on the CoJ project of UJ Engineering Faculty. Wrote a research paper titled "Cultural intermediaries and the circuit of culture: The Digital Ambassadors project in Johannesburg, South Africa. Benecke, D.R.; Simpson, Z.; Le Roux, S.; Skinner, C.J.; Janse van Rensburg, N.; Sibeko, J.; Bvuma, S.; Meyer, J.The paper was presented at the World PR Forum 2016 in May 2016 in Toronto, Canada and accepted for publication in the academic journal Public Relations Review 43 (2017) 26–34.

Presented a key note address at annual International Business Communicators Association (IABC) conference in Cape Town, 2016 titled "#Feesmustfall – wicked problems and a different zeitgeist". The paper was co-authored with Prof Sonja Verwey.

Co-authored a conceptual paper with Prof S Verwey and Ms C Muir titled "Purpose and Practice: Educating PR professionals for the future" which was presented at the PRISA 2017 conference.

Co-authored a research paper for the 2017 PRISA and APRA conferences with Ms Thabisile Phumo title "Social representation of power by African female PR leaders. The paper was presented in Johannesburg in April 2017 and May in Casablanca, Morocco.

Co-authored and presented a research paper at the World Public Relations Forum 2018 in Oslo, Norway titled "Social representation of PR Activism by early career Public Relations Practitioners in South Africa". The paper was co-authored with Prof Sonja Verwey and submitted for publication in the PR Review academic journal. Article is currently under review.

Co-authored and presented a research paper at World Public Relations Forum 2018 in Oslo, Norway titled "Value-based public relations education through exposure to complex societal issues: a collaboration between a university and an intergovernmental organisation".  The paper was submitted to PR Review for publication, provisionally accepted pending changes. Co-authors are Anna Oksiutycz and Caroline Azionya.