Staff Members

Home » Prof Dalien Rene Benecke

Associate Professor
Name: Dalien Rene Benecke
Location: K green 4 APB B-Ring 618B APK Auckland Park Kingsway Campus
Department of Strategic Communication Staff, Faculty of Humanities  Staff Members

Contact Details:
Tel: 011 559 1261/2724


About Prof Dalien Rene Benecke

Qualifications: D Litt et Phil

Overview/bio: I’m an Associate Professor in Department of Strategic Communication with a doctorate in Corporate Communication. I worked for 12 years in the Non-Profit sector as PR manager and fundraiser before I joined academia.

I specialize in experiential learning, work-integrated education, reflective practice in PR, participatory action learning and action research for undergraduate and postgraduate strategic communication students. My research include activism, community influencers, network theory, internal communication, PR education and leadership. I also mentor the Students’ Public Relations Association (SPRA) and is working closely with the Community Engagement Unit at UJ. I believe in providing students and young practitioners with opportunities to make a difference in society through their experiential learning actions and active citizenship.

I served on the Public Relations Association of Southern Africa (PRISA) Board since 2016 (although I have been a member since 1998) and served as President of the professional body during 2019/20 and held the Board portfolio of Education, Training and Research since 2016 until 2023. I was awarded the Fellowship of PRISA in 2023. I co-edited and authored several Public Relations and Strategic Communication articles and books, presented research papers at local PRISA and SACOMM conferences as well as international conferences such as the World Public Relations Forums in Canada, Norway and Spain, the International History of PR Conference (IHPRC) and the International Communication Conference held annually at Lake Bled, Slovenia.

During 2023/24, I served as the Southern Africa regional representative on the GA board during which time I attended most board meetings and ensure that important information about GA is communicated with PRISA members. We also hosted several member information sessions and I took part as a speaker in three (3) of the online webinars hosted for Student and Young Practitioner month in November 2023. As GA board member I promoted the Health and Wellness Month in January 2024 as it relates well with my own research on Student Health and Wellbeing. I was also part of the team organising President Justin Green’s visit to South Africa. I sponsored the PRISA Strategic Planning session in January 2024. In February we will be hosting an Ethics webinar involving South African practitioners and students on topics such as Ethics and Reputation and Ethics and AI in an African context.


Research Interests: activism, community influencers, network theory, internal communication, PR education, social impact and social value as well as PR leadership




Conference participation:

2002: Presented a paper titled “Challenges facing Technikons in implementing learnerships” at an annual Southern African Society for Co-operative Education (SASCE) conference in Cape Town, April 2002.

2003: Presented a paper titled “Experiential learning in PR education in SA” at an international conference of The Centre for Lifelong learning in Glasgow, June 2003.

2004: Presented a paper titled “The Nested approach in curriculum development of experiential learning” at an annual Southern African Society for Co-operative Education (SASCE) conference in Pretoria, April 2004.

2005: Presented a paper titled “Good PR practice and PR education” at a PR & Communication conference held in Johannesburg in March 2005.

Presented a paper in Boston, USA at an international conference hosted by the World Association for Cooperative education titled “Service learning in PR in SA” in June 2005. Presented a paper at the annual SACOMM conference in September 2005 in Pretoria titled “A framework to implement experiential learning in public relations qualifications in SA”.

2006: Co-presented a paper at the annual SASCE Conference in April 2006 in Vanderbijl Park titled “Preparing public relations students for work integrated learning”.

2009: Presented a co-authored paper at the HELTASA Conference – D R Benecke & M du

Plessis. Nov 2009. “The three R’s in PR”. HELTASA Conference 24-27 November 2009. UJ.

2013: Co-authored and presented a WACE conference paper with Mr Sibonelo Malinga titled

“Professional development through a student association: Case of the Student Public Relations Association (SPRA) at University of Johannesburg”, Durban, June 2013.

2014: 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”. Paper was also accepted for a special edition of Public Relations Review (2015).

2016: Presented a co-authored paper at World PR Forum 2016 in May 2016 in Toronto, Canada and the paper was later accepted for publication in the academic journal Public Relations Review 43 (2017) 26–34.

Was invited as keynote speaker at the 2016 International Association of Business

Communicators (IABC) conference in Cape Town. Presented a co-authored paper with Prof Sonja Verwey titled “#Feesmustfall – wicked problems and a different zeitgeist”.

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

2018: Presented two co-authored papers at the World PR Forum 2018 in Norway. The first paper was based on my doctoral study and was co-authored with Prof Sonja Verwey, titled “Social representation of PR Activism in Early Career South African Public Relations Practitioners. This article is in press with Public Relations Review (2020). The second paper was titled “Value-based public relations education through exposure to complex societal issues: a collaboration between a university and an intergovernmental organisation which was co-authored with Anna Oksiutycz and Caroline Azionya. This article was published in Public Relations Review (2019) (45).

2019: Co-presented two research papers with Prof Sonja Verwey and Dr Neil Levy at the annual SACOMM conference in Cape Town in September 2019. The one paper was based on my doctoral study and included my Symbolic Intermediary Framework. The second paper was based on leadership research we conducted with the assistance of Psycad amongst third year PR students. The paper was titled “Leadership competencies and the new world of PR work: Developing future fit PR”.

Organised the inaugural PRISA Research Colloquium in Johannesburg. Several research papers by scholars from various higher education institution (Norway, NWU & Stellenbosch) were presented for the first time to members and were also published on the PRISA website.

Represented PRISA (as President 2019/2020) and UJ at the annual Public Relations Society of Kenya (PRSK) conference in Mombasa, Kenya. I took part in a panel discussion on Ethics and professional conduct in PR.

2020: Presented a paper at annual PRISA Research Colloquium in October titled “Value-based model and ethics education”.

2021: Presented a paper at the annual BLED, Slovenia conference (virtual) in July 2021 titled “Re- Imagining the future of Strategic Communication and Public Relations: South African view based on Capability Framework study”.

2022: Presented a co-authored research paper during the annual International History of PR Conference, held in Bournemouth, UK (Virtual) in July, titled “PR curricula reviewed, reimagined and relevant in a disruptive era”.

Presented a co-authored paper at the annual Bled Conference, Slovenia in July 2022 (virtual), titled “Adopting a network perspective for stakeholder engagement and research during Covid-19: The case of GBV research among private sector organisations in South Africa”.

2023:  Presented a research paper at the annual Bled Conference, Slovenia, titled “Connecting the networking nodes for sustainable student wellness: The case of UJ’s student wellness programme and role of a PR educator”.

Part of the Strategic Communication Conference team responsible for the inaugural Strategic Communication Conference hosted by the department in September 2023.

Presented during the Global Alliance for PR & Communication Management, Student and Young Practitioner month in November 2023 on PR education, AI and developing professional skills.