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SA lacks international business brand
SA lacks international business brand

SA lacks international business brand

FMCG SUPPLIER NEWS - Oct 28th 2013, 09:00

Cape Town – The persistent weakness in the perception of SA in international media coverage is the under-representation of SA’s business sector and the difficulty to identify a business leader or leaders “representative" of the country. 

This is one of the conclusions of an analysis made by the Canadian firm Influence Communication about the perceptions of SA before the Fifa Soccer World Cup 2010 and one year later.

There is still a lot more work to be done in terms of how the international media perceives SA, according to Jean-Francois Dumas, president of Influence Communication, a Canadian company which offers media monitoring and analysis in 160 countries.

“Only 1% of all international news coverage is about Africa and of this 51% is about SA. There is, therefore, still a lot of opportunities to explore,” said Dumas.

That is why Influence Communication has partnered with two SA partners, namely Ryland Fisher of Ryland Fisher Communications and Lesley Africa of Brainwave Projects, in order to make use of these opportunities for media analysis in SA and the rest of Africa.

“Our partnership will be able to offer some unique products and bring business empowerment in SA,” said Ryland Fisher at the launch of the new partnership.

For Lesley Africa of Brainwave Projects, it is, furthermore, important that the partnership is majority black owned.

Dumas explained that for any country or city the international media coverage it gets is important for its branding and identity and its ability to lure investment projects.

Perception vs reality

A perception of a country is usually different from the reality.

“We found that before the World Cup there was not much international media coverage of South Africa’s culture. Almost all the coverage was about health issues, apartheid, unemployment, poverty, education and violence in the country,” said Dumas.

Before the World Cup the main figures representing the perception of South Africa found in international media coverage were Nelson Mandela, Jacob Zuma and Hilary Clinton.

During the World Cup the vuvuzela created a buzz in the US and it led to the coverage of more cultural aspects of SA.

During the year after the World Cup we found much more coverage on culture and tourism.

About 55% of the perceptions in the international media were not about apartheid anymore, but about the inequality in the country in terms of issues like race, gender, unemployment, violence and the fight against HIV/Aids.

The most prominent figures “conveying” a perception of the country in the media were now Freshly Ground, Jacob Zuma, Julius Malema and Michelle Obama.

“Our analysis found that the negative aspects about SA had become less dominant and there was more coverage of tourism and culture. SA was also now seen as the economic powerhouse in Africa,” said Dumas.

“For Europeans and Americans the view of SA was not one of a developing country anymore, but that of an emerging economy.”

Inequality, intolerance, violence and insecurity still remained weaknesses in the perception of SA.From  

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