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African communication post FIFA World Cup 0

African business and economic development has had an unparalleled opportunity to present itself to the world media during the FIFA World Cup which took place in South Africa. A joint study between the Zurich and Pretoria offices of Media Tenor highlights how successful agenda-surfing has been in enabling the promotion of the African economic agenda.

It shows that the focus is on Africa at a time when the world’s media is looking to get away from the economic crisis and find new areas of hope and growth.

However, the study also shows that past event driven coverage from other countries, such as the Beijing Olympics, is not a guarantee that the media will cover reputation building areas. This highlights the need for communicators to actively seek out interested media sources, and supply them with topical information relevant to their agenda.

Media Tenor’s measurement of expert citations in the Financial Times Europe shows the World Cup coverage not only boosted Africa’s sports image, but that there was an in-depth analysis into the economic development of Africa.

The results of the study show that increased attention was achieved by actively communicating Africa through initiatives such as Kofi Annan’s African Progress Panel’s APR report alongside World Cup coverage. This provides a measurable example of how accurate information on Africa can lead to measurable interest in doing business in Africa.

As Media Tenor’s South African CEO Wadim Schreiner explains, “The APP/Financial Times result exemplifies how African communicators can get it right. It was not just Kofi Annan’s name or the World Cup agenda that worked in Africa’s favour, but the combination of delivering the right type of information to the right place at the right point in time.”

The agenda-surfing effects for business, although apparently obvious in retrospect, are anything but obvious. Previous media trends measured by Media Tenor show that event related coverage rarely means significant exposure for the economic and social aspects of a culture. A comparison of the topical structure of country images during large scale sporting events suggests that the underlying trends on social and economic reporting remains unchanged, despite the volume peak around the event.

This finding highlights the importance of actively communicating these ‘niche issues’ during events to make the most of the agenda. “It is as if the culture of the host country simply lends flavour to the event, rather than really generating a solid news flow on the country itself”, says Schreiner.

With the World Cup now over, there are still opportunities for African communication presented by the international economic agenda. The effects of high volume crises in the Euro zone, and a declining outlook for the US economic picture suggest that the opportunity to position Africa as an area of alternative growth will continue into the midterm.

Two other strong advantages exist for Africa, namely the strong links to Chinese investment on the continent which are already providing an indirect economic information flow from Africa; and the overall economic sentiment outside the crisis economies.

“The reason why the Chinese story is so important for area investment is that it is one of the few areas where the rest of the world is seeing success,” says Schreiner.

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi