Taking stock in a refresher course
Experienced practitioner revisits government communications programme
Nomfanelo Kota, a veteran government communicator, has extensive experience in media liaison and communications and is a former spokesperson for the South African Embassy in New York. She worked as a media co-ordinator for the African National Congress and currently works for the Eastern Cape government.
Despite all her experience, Kota enrolled for the Government Communications and Marketing programme run by the Wits School of Governance this year.
Here, she shares her experience at WSG:
Why did you decide to do this course?
I completed the programme in 2007. Last year, I registered to get a sense of what we have achieved as government communicators in the space of a decade. The course has given me an opportunity to pause, take stock and see how far we have traversed and how we have simultaneously regressed in the sector at a policy level.
The programme has assisted me to understand the changing government communications and media landscape better and how different spheres of government have an ongoing challenge of synchronising their approaches to government communications.
What do you enjoy about this course?
The classroom engagements provide rigour and an opportunity for appreciative enquiry. Most of the course facilitators have valuable experience in communications and have been a great asset to the learning experience.
The richness of class discussions and their interactive nature broadens the minds of government communicators as fresh material is shared in a disciplined manner.
What I enjoy most from the course is the interaction with other students and learning from them, the stimulating class experiments and syndicate work that also takes us to external audiences (market research exercises) and how lecturers provide fresh materials that speak to our constantly changing and evolving media landscape.
What do you enjoy about the roles you played in government communication?
One of the most satisfying parts of my job is when I am able to create and expand nurturing communication networks for the province through interactions with various stakeholders in the sector.
What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?
The most challenging part is to get political principals to understand that in political communication time is a critical resource and the ability to respond timeously to developments in the environment is the most crucial aspect of a government communicator.
Apart from sharing information, what other roles do you think government communicators can play in creating access to all levels of governments?
Government communicators are the gateway to the world of political communication. They must consistently strive to keep channels of communication open at all times, be transparent and keep the public, media and other stakeholders informed of what government seeks to achieve.
At all times, government communicators must know that government communications is not a secret. Mostly government communicators must never allow middle-men and women to stand between them and their political communications work.
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