Communications Strategy

Multi-Faceted Communications Strategy





One of the key performance areas of any successful institution or organization is vested in the ability to communicate effectively within the institution or organization as well as to the outside world and/or community within which the organization functions. Communication is essential to ensure that stakeholders are afforded mechanisms for consultation and input into strategies or processes that affect their own activities, as well as in obtaining shared understanding, awareness, and buy-in to the collective approaches. Only through a collective approach towards achieving a shared vision can the true potential be recognized.  The CHS has identified a set of strategic objectives as part of its strategic framework, and has been working systematically towards these. Whilst the College has been very successful in this process, and several processes, initiatives and activities which support communication in the Schools and the College as a whole are in place, a Multi- Faceted Strategic Communication Framework (MFSCF) in the CHS has been identified  as one of the areas in which a concerted effort should be made to improve communication between:

1.  Management and staff

2.  Management and CHS major stakeholders

3.  Staff members in various offices, disciplines and Schools

4.  Management, staff and students

5.  Management and the external media and social media

In defining a MFSCF and putting in place various activities and strategic plans to promote and optimize communication within the college and to the outside community, the CHS will be able to leverage further on the collective investments and efforts that we are making towards academic excellence underpinning health for our people, i.e. to promote understanding, awareness and buy­ in, with opportunity for all to contribute to, and shape, the outcomes we deliver.

Purpose of the Multi-Faceted Strategic Communication Framework:

The common  objective  of  the  strategic communications  plan  will  be to  improve and  optimize communication between College Management, Staff, Students, External Stakeholders and  the Community within which the CHS functions.


The specific objectives will be the following:

1.   To ensure an all-inclusive communication framework is established which allows freedom of   participation, recognition of contribution, respect for differences of opinion and no discrimination.

2.   To optimize all levels of communication (verbal, written and online) in the CHS.

3.   To share best practice experience and innovative ideas, to afford opportunity to shape direction and   activities among individuals and across disciplines – especially allowing grass­ roots experience to   enrich the views of all.

4.   To create an awareness of communication and assist staff to improve and develop communication   skills through workshops and follow up activities to ensure sustained optimization of communication in the CHS.

5.   To use different forums to communicate the following:

a.   Policy and guidance documents to staff, students and stakeholders.

b. Strategic aligning of the College in terms of transformation to staff, students and stakeholders.

c.   Strategic planning of student enrolment to staff, students and stakeholders.

d.  Strategic planning of Teaching and Learning to staff, students and stakeholders.

e.   Strategic planning of Research to staff, students and stakeholders.

f.   Strategic planning for expansion of any teaching, training and/or research activity to staff, students  and stakeholders.

6.   To communicate current logistical processes, agreements, changes, construction and general   information effectively to staff and students.

Components of the Strategic Communication Framework:

In a drive to improve and optimize internal and external communication, several components have been defined. Most of these activities form ideal opportunities to engage on an informal basis to build common interest, discuss collaboration, share in collegiality and even lobby for matters of common interest and shared benefit.  A renewed drive for internal and external marketing will be initiated to sensitize staff and stakeholders of the various opportunities that exist.

Apart from  the existing activities, the framework  of strategic plans listed in this document  will be planned to ensure optimal utilization of resources whilst ensuring that all forms of communication in the CHS is optimized to fulfil objective 1 and 2.

1.         Management Communication:
The DVC, DPS and Deans will have regular Communiqués in which recent and relevant

  2.         Social Spaces for Staff and Students:

The College is in the process to introduce Staff and Student Social Areas on all campuses to facilitate engagement on academic and non-academic matters relevant to the CHS.  Within these areas, the introduction of ‘Social Lunches’ and other activities to create an opportunity for communication between College Management, Academic Staff, Postgraduate Students and Undergraduate Students will be introduced.  At the NRMSM campus a social area has been furnished on the open deck area between the Main Building and the K-RITH Tower Building (Canvas outside to be used as a social space).  On Howard College a social area is in planning between George Campbell and Desmond Clarence Buildings (Plans in place). On the PMB campus the College has a resource center at the Denison Residence which can also be used for social meetings between staff and students.  On Westville Campus possible spaces for creation of a social space has been discussed and negotiations are in process to create social space.

3.         College Specific Staff Functions:

Current activities in the CHS, such as the College Quiz– Deans and SOM’s Team, Regular and Specific Guest Lectures, the College Year End Function and ad hoc functions to acknowledge achievements will continue to build collegiality and create opportunity to optimize communication.

4.         College Workshops on Communication: 

In the complex staffing structure of a University there is a continuous need to stimulate communication between management, academic staff and professional services staff per se. College reorganization which was implemented in 2012 had a set target to professionalize the administrative staff component and in that process enable academic staff to focus on the key performance areas of teaching and research. This process poses some challenges and although the CHS has moved a long way to  reconfirm  and implement  academic activity,  there  are still specific issues on  role clarification, acceptance of the newly confirmed role of academic staff and acceptance of the role and capacity of professional services staff to deliver on specific challenges.

Unfortunately one of the unwanted legacies of the previous dispensation is the gap between academic and professional services staff and the assumption in some circles that this is cannot be bridged. The College Managers and DPS have discussed the divide that exists and proposed a College Workshop on Communication.  This workshop should ideally break down this barrier and empower both academic and professional services staff to communicate efficiently on work related matters as well as important CHS matters of concern.  The expectation is that this workshop can provide the basis for effective communication to all staff in the CHS which will be sustained by follow up activities.

5.         College Chat Room -Informal Continued Communication Forum:
The communication  of  policy and guidance documents will be facilitated  by ‘College Chats’, during which members of the College and School Management will be invited to host a web­ based ‘College Chat Room’ to discuss matters of concern to staff and students. These ‘College Chats’ will be facilitated by the Public Relations Office of the CHS and all information relevant to the topic will be published on the Web prior to the specific chat. To secure the strategic drive for the College Chat Room, each of the DVC, DPS, College Deans, Deans/HoS, College Managers and School Operation Managers will choose three key strategic objectives within their portfolios for which they will become the champions to enable communication.   For example, the College Manager HR will champion communication around the College Transformation Strategy. School Managers will champion three key School interventions that are drivers for College strategy, and can be cross-cutting. In this way the College Management will effectively become agents of communication, ensuring that all of the key areas that were identified at College Management Committee and other levels are being communicated within the College.

  6.         Internal Staff Communication and Development:

a.         Professional Services Road show: 

Professional Services Road shows have been introduced  in 2013 and proved to be very valuable  for  information transfer  and to  inform  academic and support  staff  of  the activities in the different  Professional Services portfolios.  This activity will be continued with the focus on sharing information on contentious matters.

  b.         CHS Induction Programme:

The CHS is offering an induction programme for all new staff entering the college. The HR Manager organizes this activity and several members of College Management and Senior University Management participate in this programme.   The aim with this programme is to welcome and integrate new staff at UKZN.

  c.         Portfolio Workshops: Need to be defined

The College Managers and School Managers organize and   present workshops  on specific processes and matters of concern.

  d.         Service Level Agreements and Standard Operating Procedures:

The DPS initiated a process to define Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all cadres of Professional Services and Technical Staff. This is an interactive process during which all Professional Services and Technical staff are participating in defining and refining SLA and SOPs. This process will continue to ensure optimization as well as implementation, evaluation and refining of SLAs and SOPs.

  e.         Generic Key Performance Areas:

Within the College and Schools generic Key Performance Areas (KPAs) have been defined for academic and PS staff.   The process to refine generic KPAs is a continuous process which should be continued on an annual basis.

  f. Social Media

The College currently has a very successful Facebook and Twitter account. It is further proposed that in order to succeed with the utilization of social media it will be important for College and School Management to actively engage on these social media platforms.

  g. Social Events

A number of social events will assist with creating a team spirit between academics, technicians and professional services staff. These would include golf days, cricket matches, personality assessments (MANCO) and quizzes.

  9.         Student Body Communication Forum: 

In  line  with   the   student  centric   approach  it is  important   to  create  opportunities  for communication with students and hear the voice of students.  To facilitate this open communication with students there will be two student body meetings per annum.  These meetings will be attended by all members of College Management and students from all four Schools will be afforded the opportunity to submit matters for discussion at these meetings. Apart from these, there are orientation programmes coordinated for both first year students and for all final year students.

  10.  Stakeholder Group Discussions: 

Specific group  discussions will  be  organized  to  afford  particular  sets of  stakeholders  the opportunity for direct interaction around important broad  issues,  which   may   involve   both information sharing and explanation, but also inputs to enrich developments.  Stakeholders in this context may include the various Hospitals at which training is taking place, the proposed Clinical Training Platform Hospitals, Clinics and Community Centres, the Research Institutes affiliated  to  the  CHS and UKZN, the  DOH (both  KZN and National), the DHET, Professional Bodies,etc.

11. Creating a Research Ethos in the College

One of the strategic goals of the College is to be globally recognised as a high quality Health Sciences research institution. As such, a substantial amount of strategic funding is set aside each year for scholarships and bursaries to grow postgraduate numbers, funding for visiting academics and the College has also invested in research professors, both full and fractional to assist the Schools.

In order to create an environment that showcases on-going research within the College, the following proposals are:


11.1. Block Mounted posters:

These posters will be placed throughout the College showcasing research studies and will also feature academics that have received awards for their work.


11.2. Plasma screen TV’s

These will serve as Notice Boards and will be placed in the College as well as the surrounding hospitals with daily postings highlighting research activities.


11.3. UKZN TUBE- Lyn Whiteley

All research activities are to be captured on UKZN Tube with content adapted for online publishing.

 11.4. Eminent Scientists/Academics

Postgraduate students will be encouraged through a competition to nominate eminent scientists that will be hosted at UKZN for a maximum of 2 weeks. The students will need to provide a concise motivation with a list of planned activities for the duration of the academic’s visit. The nominating student will receive a prize if their nomination is successful.


11.5. Lecture Series

It is proposed that the DVC hosts a Lecture Series on a monthly basis. Academics within the College will be invited to nominate an International academic/scientist to visit at UKZN and deliver a lecture. Nominations will be on a competitive basis with prizes for the nominating academic.

11.5. Recognition of Achievements:

a. Online Platforms

Staff will be recognized for the most highly cited paper and most views on Researchgate.

b. Paper of the Month

Staff who have produced ground-breaking results or a novel study will be recognised on a monthly basis.


c. Digest of publications-Online

Staff to be encouraged to submit a copy of an abstract of their most recently published paper, inclusive of the impact factor of the publication. The topic of study as well as the abstract will form part of an online Digest of publications on the College, School and Discipline/Department websites.

d. Emerging Scientists per School

To be recognised at the year- end function.


12. Websites:

Each Discipline/Department website should be a hub of discussion on recent publications as well as emerging researchers and well established scientists. Papers that are reviewed or published must be uploaded on the respective site creating an opportunity for discussion.

13. Monthly Journal Clubs

Disciplines/departments must be encouraged to host monthly journal clubs focusing on current research which can be publicized through the PR Office.


Revision of the Strategic Communication Framework:

The MSCF will be revised annually at a relevant CMC meeting to ensure the strategic drive for optimal communication in the CHS is aligned with technological advancements and the needs of the relevant role-players and stakeholders.