Country reputation management : identifying the drivers of South Africa’s reputation in German media
Although reputation management has historically been restricted to companies or other organisational entities, countries are also increasingly concerned with their reputation relative to other countries and have started to actively measure and manage that reputation1. Over the past years, the Republic of South Africa has begun to professionally streamline its own reputation management activities, specifically by establishing the International Marketing Committee (IMC) in August 2000. South African Tourism, the media division of the South African diplomatic sector and even South African Airways are other reputation management vehicles that have been working toward emanating a comprehensive marketing and communication message from South Africa to other countries. The basis of good reputation management is to first measure such reputation2. It is also important to know what aspects are the main drivers of such reputation. Using the content of specific German newspapers as data body, this study determines the drivers of South Africa’s media reputation in Germany. In order to accurately set the scene for an analysis of South Africa’s reputation, a thorough situation analysis on the country is conducted. This situation analysis forms the backbone for the methodology used further on to investigate the drivers of South Africa’s reputation in specific German media. To this end, a large part of the situation analysis looks at South Africa in terms of Germany and a study is conducted on the relationship between Germany and South Africa as well as the potential stakeholders of South Africa’s media reputation in Germany. It is also important to know what current efforts in terms of reputation management are. After studying the history of South Africa’s reputation management activities, members of today’s reputation management vehicles are interviewed and an overview of South African reputation management efforts currently active in Germany is provided. The reputation management activities of other countries are briefly explored and specifically the lessons from other countries’ efforts are highlighted. Subsequently, the reputational dimensions that positively or negatively drive South Africa’s reputation in specific German media are determined. To this end, a content analysis is conducted on the seven German national daily newspapers, Börsen- Zeitung, Die Welt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau, Financial Times Deutschland, Handelsblatt and Süddeutsche Zeitung3 over a period of 20 months. The findings made culminate in suggestions for South Africa’s future reputation management activities in Germany.