The Public Relations Division at the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) scooped silver, gold and platinum prizes at this year’s MACE Excellence Awards ceremony.
The awards take place annually to celebrate the excellence and achievements of specialists and practitioners in marketing, advancement and communication in the South African Higher Education sector.
During the virtual ceremony, the CAES Public Relations (PR) Division received three awards for their work in 2020, bringing their total number of medals won to nine.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the College held the University’s first-ever Online Open Day in June last year. The seven-hour webinar included application and funding information, a science show and in-depth details of the five Schools in the College. The event attracted close to 700 participants, 5 000 website views and 2 500 social media engagements. The presentation, which received a Platinum Excellence Award in the Events: Single and Multi-Day Category, was announced as the national winner in the media division.
The Wonder Women In Science (WWIS) campaign, run each year in August, celebrates female scientists at UKZN and promotes careers in STEM sectors. The 2020 WWIS campaign attracted more than 14 000 website views, generating over R1.5 million in free publicity and reaching more than seven million people. This campaign received the highest score and a Gold Excellence Award in the General Campaigns category.
In April, the College published the CAES in the Time of COVID-19 online newsletter to showcase the cutting-edge response of College staff and students to the pandemic as well as to foster a sense of community and pride. The publication was viewed more than 1 300 times and received positive feedback from the University community. The publication received a Silver Excellence Award in the category: Digital: Internal Magazines and Newsletters.
Last year was particularly challenging for the CAES PR Division as it had to contend with lockdowns, remote working and online events, requiring it to re-imagine PR operations and invent new ways of working.
The Division’s success can be attributed to three factors: technology, leadership and teamwork. It had to embrace new technologies (Zoom, Moodle and Google forms) and facilitate its introduction into the College.
The Division is led by PR Manager Dr Sally Frost who creates a supportive, innovative and collaborative environment through visionary leadership. The section comprises 12 staff members and interns whose goal is excellence in whatever they do.
During a time when productivity could have dwindled, the CAES PR Division was able to deliver a year full of innovative, pioneering and best-in-class projects. ‘We were only able to persevere because of an amazing team that were willing to give beyond their best,’ said Frost. ‘I am truly grateful to Christine Cuenod, Leena Rajpal, Swasti Maney, Asok Rajh, Tanja Reinhardt, Karuna Mahadave, Ntokozo Dladla, Sashlin Girraj, Sam Ngcongo, Mzi Hloba, Londeka Zondo, Sane Mahlase, Nicole Chidazwo and Pumla Dlamini for these wins.’
‘The Division’s excellence award wins signify that it is among the best at the University and the entire South African Higher Education industry. Excellence is consistently evident in the work of its personnel and will forever be intertwined into the fabric of the Division,’ said Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the CAES, Professor Albert Modi.
Words: Sashlin Girraj