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Centre for Environmental Rights – Advancing Environmental Rights in South Africa

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Head of Communications

Reference No: 1/2019

The closing date (30 May 2019) has passed and applications for this position are now closed.

The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) is looking for an experienced, dynamic and passionate communications professional to take up a position as head of our communications team. This role is to provide strategic communications leadership and advice to the CER, to conceptualise and oversee the launch and roll-out of communications campaigns, to direct media relations for key media events in CER’s programmes, and generally to manage, protect, and nurture the CER’s public profile.


Based in Cape Town

Qualifications, skills and experience

  • Relevant undergraduate qualification, i.e. in journalism, communications, English, or media studies
  • At least 5 years’ experience in strategic communications management for an organisation; with experience in the non-profit sector an added advantage
  • Proven traditional media relations experience, and existing networks and relationships with media outlets and journalists, with experience in community media relations an added advantage
  • Sound understanding of and experience in design of organisational and campaign communication strategies for a variety of audiences, including industry, government, and communities affected by environmental injustice
  • Excellent English writing skills; fluency in another South African language, particularly Zulu, would be an advantage
  • Firm grasp of social media platform tools, guidelines, and policies; with WordPress experience an advantage
  • A commitment to high-quality client service
  • A sensitivity to inequality, social issues, and the needs of communities impacted by environmental degradation and injustice, and a passion for social and environmental justice
  • A commitment to diversity, inclusion, and transformation.

Key responsibilities

  • Profile management and strategy development: Generally managing, nurturing, and protecting the CER’s public profile, including:
    • Providing strategic communications leadership and advice to the CER; and
    • Monitoring and providing feedback on all aspects of the CER’s public profile to the Executive Director;
  • Strategic communications support for programmes: Leading the strategic communications for the CER’s programme work; including but not limited to the following:
    • Conceptualising and overseeing the launch and roll-out of strategic communications campaigns in collaboration with CER’s programmes and project leads;
    • Directing media relations for key media events in CER’s programmes and projects, including working with programme staff to write media releases; and
    • Reporting progress on project deliverables to partners and funders.
  • Online platforms:
    • Managing the CER’s online presence and resources; including website and social media accounts;
  • Networking and relationships:
    • Managing communication with key external stakeholders; and
    • Liaising with communications staff in partner organisations;
  • Management:
    • Training, mentoring and managing the performance and development of other CER communications staff;
    • Training and mentoring CER programme staff in key aspects of public presentation and media liaison.
  • Monitoring and evaluation: Recording and sharing learning for systemic change.


The CER benchmarks its salaries for the public interest law sector, and the salary offered will be dependent on factors that may include the qualifications, level of expertise, and experience of the successful candidate. The salary range is R359 672 to R486 615.

CER is committed to diversity, inclusion, and transformation. Candidates from historically-disadvantaged or marginalised groups are strongly encouraged to apply for this post.

Working for the CER

The Centre for Environmental Rights is a non-profit organisation and law clinic of environmental rights lawyers that helps communities defend their right to a healthy environment. We do this by advocating and litigating for environmental justice.

As South Africa’s largest public interest environmental law organisation, we leverage our expertise and commitment to fight for environmental justice and advance the right to a healthy environment for all. We take on the big environmental fights – high-stakes cases where we can empower local communities, have an enduring impact, and set powerful precedents for other cases, and help improve policy and practice across the country.

Winning the legal case is only part of the battle. CER’s litigation work is strengthened by local empowerment, dedicated policy and advocacy work, and strategic communications. In all of our work, we work closely with partners in affected communities, with other civil society organisations in the environmental and social justice sector, and with other public interest law organisations.

We work across the following core themes: Biodiversity, Mining, Water, Pollution and Climate Change, and Corporate Accountability. We have our main office in Observatory, Cape Town, with a smaller office in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. Staff who join our Johannesburg office are required to travel to our Cape Town office on a regular basis.

At CER, we value our staff and regard their wellbeing as a priority. We have a Staff Well-Being Policy that includes a Savings and Insurance Benefit for permanent staff. CER’s generous leave provisions include 30 working days’ leave, half of which must be taken over the December festive season when we close the office for 15 working days.

We are committed to a work environment that is an inclusive, empathetic space, and in which diversity is celebrated and supported.

How to apply

Please send the following documents to: [email protected], with the email subject line: “Head of Communications”, and include:

  • A brief cover letter setting out your skills and relevant experience, as well as why you want to work at the CER, and the key contributions you believe you will be able to make to the communications function
  • A copy of your CV
  • A small selection of up to four examples of your work or links to where your work can be viewed (examples of writing, media relations, social media campaigns, etc.)
  • Two recent written references

Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and that shortlisted candidates may be required to complete relevant tests to demonstrate competency.