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New university short course deals with challenges of modern PR environment

New media has had a significant impact on the role of the PR professional. The rapidly changing face of public relations demands that industry professionals keep up to date with current trends in order to effectively deal with modern day PR challenges. Social media has transformed the interaction between firms and consumers into an ongoing conversation, and public relations can no longer only be a priority in times of crisis. Today, organisations need to constantly monitor their reputation and be proactive about building and maintaining good relationships with their audiences.
The University of Cape Town, together with leading online education company, GetSmarter, recently launched the University of Cape Town Public Relations online short course that aims to equip both current and aspiring professionals in this field with the skills required to utilise both traditional and new media tools to communicate with stakeholders and manage the public image of businesses.

The 10-week part-time course is presented entirely online throughout South Africa through GetSmarter's innovative learning platform and will start on 19 November 2012 (a 5-week holiday break is included).

The course addresses the relationship between traditional and online public relations, exploring both conventional and new methods and how they can be integrated. Focus is placed on the pervasiveness of the internet and the numerous ways it can be used by individuals and organisations. Software and technology developments, as well as shifts in attitude towards the internet, have created a platform for radical innovation but have also exposed firms to greater threats to their reputation. Word of mouth spreads faster in the modern age thanks to real-time online media and the potential for content to go viral.

The course is unique in its focus on content management, an important part of the PR function, which requires PR practitioners to keep up with audiences' expectations and the capabilities of online platforms. The UCT Public Relations short course addresses content management for both traditional and online media, providing a solid background in recognised techniques and offering guidelines for new media, which demand unique specifications.

During the course participants will come to understand how new media has changed the role of the public relations professional and learn how to utilise both traditional and new media tools to communicate with stakeholders and manage their company's public image.

The course aims to help those already in the public relations industry to expand their current skill set to include the new skills needed to leverage media in their PR strategies. Furthermore, the course provides a general overview of public relations, and so, can be helpful to those who are looking to enter the industry. On successful completion of the course, participants receive a Certificate in Public Relations from the University of Cape Town.

GetSmarter's advanced and user-friendly learning model provides students with a personal and professional educational experience. Students work through the course material together and receive continuous academic and administrative assistance during the course. Each of the ten modules includes comprehensive and up-to-date course notes; discussion forums where students interact with one another; an interactive quiz; and video lectures to make the course material more engaging.

The course is convened by Martin Neethling, who has worked extensively within the Public Relations and Marketing fields. Martin will be available to answer queries on the discussion forums, allowing students to draw from his invaluable knowledge and experience.

About GetSmarter

GetSmarter is a high-touch online education company that works together with the University of Cape Town, one of Africa's leading universities, to present courses to working professionals and entrepreneurs throughout South Africa. It has trained over 10,000 students in the past four years, in such diverse topics as labour law, creative writing and internet marketing - all from the comfort of the students' homes or offices. For more information visit www.getsmarter.co.za.

Sign up

The course starts on 19 November 2012, and registrations close on 9 November 2012. Register online or contact Nikki on +27 (0)21 447 7565 or nicole@getsmarter.co.za for further information.

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