Department of Strategic Communication

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Why study Strategic Communication?

In a world that is ever changing, with people having more influence on local and international trends and issues, a new field emerged in response. With disciplines such as public relations, communication management, marketing communication and organisational communication as pillars, strategic communication developed to help navigate the change society and the organisations in it needs. A major in strategic communication will expose you to these various disciplines and more, evolving communication technologies and help you to understand and navigate media platforms. All this so that you are able to collaborate with various audiences and stakeholders. You will learn about a holistic and integrated approach to brand management, omni-channel brand strategies and communication campaigns. For this you will use skills such as research and insights, creative briefs, copywriting, digital strategy and so much more.
Possible careers include: Brand managers, social media strategists, digital data analysts, online advertising planners, digital marketing managers, advertising and public relations specialists, media planners, development officers, communication officers, communication and reputation managers, stakeholder managers, corporate social responsibility specialists, media relations managers, company spokespersons to name a few.
Majors and elective modules to combine with Strategic Communication as major include: Communication and Media, Development Studies; Economics; Industrial Psychology; Marketing Management; Philosophy; Politics and International relations; Psychology; Public Management and Governance; and/or Sociology.

Recognising that tomorrow’s stakeholder will be increasingly digital, virtual and fickle, the Department of Strategic Communication offers some of the most popular qualifications to prepare graduates for a rapidly-changing future. Here, young minds are shaped to become future brand managers, social media strategists, data analysts, online advertising planners, digital marketing managers, advertising and public relations executives who are cognisant of the unique challenges and responsibilities facing South Africa, the continent and the globe more so in the complex demands of an emerging post-work economy.

Already, the innovate use of blended learning technologies, online teaching methodologies and student projects using collaborative cloud applications to solve real life problems, are just some of the ways in which the digital work ethic is introduced in the classroom. To this end, students execute campaigns using social media and other digital technologies to raise awareness of and support for community causes. Moreover, digital portfolios of student projects and work integrated learning, further equips young talent for the fourth industrial revolution.

While being firmly grounded in the proud heritage of our African history, students are also sensitised to become socially responsive international citizens and future employers. To this end, the Department engages in close relationships with a wide variety of community projects and causes. At the same time, students are exposed to real life problems which help them to acquire innovative problem-solving skills in communication management.

Owing to the Department’s long-standing relationships with communities and some of the most reputable employers in the country, our graduates are sought-after for industry internships and placement. The countless gold and silver awards that our student campaigns have won at industry awards every year, is testimony to the innovative and future-fit approach by a team of highly committed lecturers, all specialists in their respective fields.

To stay abreast of the demands for a multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approach to a world where artificial intelligence increasingly shape our socio-economic realities, academics stay abreast of these changing realities through their research output and papers presented at international conferences. At the same time, post-graduate dissertations and theses are increasingly exploring topics related to Web 4.0.

As one of the largest departments in the Faculty of Humanities, a wide range of qualifications are offered. These include undergraduate bridging programmes such as the Extended Diploma in Public Relations, the Diploma in Communication Management and Public Relations, and the new BA majoring in Strategic Communication introduced in 2020.

For students seeking career development opportunities, a post-graduate qualification may provide a competitive edge in the job market. To this end, Honours, Masters and Doctorate level qualifications are aimed at sharpening students’ research capabilities for higher level strategic communication management.

The current era is characterised by a shift to Strategic Communication, which is a dynamic and evolving field. Whereas, previously, Corporate Communication, Marketing Communication, Public Relations and Management Communication were seen as separate fields, Strategic Communication has attempted to transcend these boundaries of both knowledge and practice. The environment in which most organisations and businesses find themselves necessitates the ability to adapt to: the increasing pace of change, economic instability, the shift of power away from traditional authority and the impact of technology on every aspect of human existence. Increasing digitisation represents major transformations in information ownership and dissemination, how problems are solved, and how people relate and communicate. Social structure is not only influenced by the communication demands of the organisation and its work environment, but also by social context and institution.

In response to both societal and disciplinary shifts the Department of Communication at the University of Johannesburg changed its name to the Department of Strategic Communication in 2010 when the Department was restructured. The name change was prompted by the need to reflect disciplinary paradigm shifts that have emerged in recent years within the discipline. The increasing convergence in the fields of marketing and corporate communication within a strategic communication paradigm is reflected in the name of the Department, and therefore this shift should also be reflected in the name of its qualifications.

The Department of Strategic Communication is unique in its multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approach to the rapid evolving communication technologies, media and platforms available to collaborate with converged audiences and channels. In this sense, it is the only academic department of its kind locally, founded in the post-modern approach to communication, called Strategic Communication. Graduates therefore benefit from a holistic approach to brand management while simultaneously benefitting from an omni-channel, 360 degree approach to brand strategies in order to engage with fragmented, yet always-on stakeholders in a complex and dynamic environment.