Communications Officer (Cape Town)

Are you a Communications guru? Are you a creative and innovative ideas person? Are you passionate about helping to disseminate academic research findings – making them accessible to the wider public, and helping to shape policy making and political debate? Are you passionate about the development landscape in Africa, with an interest in poverty, land and natural resources?

If this describes you, then the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape is looking for you!

PLAAS engages in research, postgraduate teaching and supervision, short-course training and policy advocacy in relation to land, agriculture, natural resources management, poverty and social policy.

Applications are invited from suitably qualified and experienced persons, for the position of Communications Officer.


  • An appropriate bachelor’s qualification in journalism or related fields
  • Minimum five years’ relevant experience
  • Proven experience handling/managing institutional social media platforms
  • Experience and knowledge of Web-based Content Management Systems
  • Exceptional English language writing and editing skills
  • Active interest in and knowledge of the political economy of development on the African continent.


  • A postgraduate qualification in a related discipline
  • Familiarity with WordPress

Skills and competencies:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Computer literate
  • Fluent in MS Office as well as a wide range of computer and internet-related skill sets such as Web 2.0, the use of social media, website management, etc.
  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Sound knowledge and understanding of social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn) and how to communicate effectively to each of these audiences
  • Experience in media relations and engaging with journalists across all media
  • Experience in website maintenance using WordPress
  • Actively engaging with stakeholders and media regarding reporting on the activities of PLAAS, and liaising with the University’s publicity officers.
  • Interest or experience in Google Analytics and data analysis
  • Ability to work independently but be a team player

The PLAAS Communications Officer is responsible for providing central co-ordination, overall management and technical support for all PLAAS’s scientific communication, research dissemination, publication and public relations needs.

Organisational communications, marketing and media

  • Developing and executing PLAAS’s communication, marketing and social media strategies.
  • Ensuring timeous and accurate public communication of all PLAAS-related news on all relevant platforms, including social media.
  • Actively engaging with stakeholders and media regarding reporting on the activities of PLAAS, and liaising with the University’s publicity officers.
  • Regularly preparing news items for public dissemination.
  • Designing and managing branding of PLAAS materials, and marketing of all PLAAS activities.

Production of all PLAAS publications and reports

  • Driving and ensuring overall coordination of publication processes – this includes logistical co-ordination (monitoring deadlines, preventing bottle-necks) and maintaining house styles (publication look and feel, branding, templates and layouts).
  • Providing technical support for authors. This includes getting quotes (for editing, layout, printing, etc.) and liaising with researchers on their publications and service providers (editors, printers, illustrators, etc.)
  • In-house layout and templating of selected publications where these are not outsourced.

Designing, updating and maintaining the PLAAS website

  • Maintaining the overall design and layout of the website to ensure alignment with PLAAS’s organisational and needs and communication strategy.
  • Ensuring and coordinating technical support for the website (including liaison with service providers, UWC IT, etc.)
  • Ensuring that the website is up-to-date and current. This includes updating the PLAAS publication database, events list, current news, and other announcements.

Scientific communication, dissemination and recording of PLAAS outputs and findings

  • Uploading all new reports and publications onto the UWC institutional repository.
  • Recording all researcher outputs and activities on the UWC Converis system.
  • Driving and coordinating scientific communication and the dissemination of PLAAS outputs policy in web-based, print and electronic media. This includes the use of key content portals (e.g. ELDIS,, ORCID, Google Scholar, etc.)
  • Assisting with coordination and consolidation of annual reporting on outputs and outcomes.
  • Where necessary and appropriate, working with researchers to develop publicly accessible materials, communicating the content and implications of research findings and policy advice in accessible formats, including blog posts, video material, audio recordings, newsletters, etc.
  • Monitoring and analysing the impact and reach of PLAAS’s media and information footprint using appropriate bibliometric and alt-metric tools.

In your application, you are encouraged to highlight your strengths and also include anything else that you feel may be pertinent to the selection panel. Please attach your covering letter, a detailed curriculum vitae and highest qualification to your online profile.

To be considered for this vacancy, you must click on the Apply for this Job link below or apply directly via UWC Careers at For any queries, please contact the Human Resources Department at +27 21 959 4063/9763/9708/3551/3756.

Closing date for applications: 14 February 2019.

In line with the University’s commitment to diversifying its workforce, preference will be given to suitably qualified applicants in line with Employment Targets of the University. The University reserves the right not to make an appointment, to make an appointment at a different level or to seek additional candidates.

Posted on 01 Feb 11:39

University of the Western Cape

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