Investments in African businesses grew by almost 300% in the past year.1 The growth in business opportunities and investments proves that confidence in the continent is rising.

“With the many positive changes afoot, it is important to take stock of some of the challenges, changes, and trends that we have seen over the last couple of years and how these may affect our approach to rebuilding Africa’s reputation,” says Regine le Roux, managing director of Reputation Matters.

The biggest communication management challenge facing organisations in Africa

“One of the biggest challenges that we are seeing on the continent is the lack of proper risk assessment, especially when it comes to reputational issues, which results in a lack of proper crisis preparation,” says Robyn de Villiers, chairman and CEO of BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) Africa, a strategic partner of Reputation Matters.

“The need for effective crisis management is also intensified because of social media. A large percentage of those companies that are well-prepared for crisis management may not have an updated social media plan in place for crisis situations. This leaves a large gap in their level or readiness,” adds de Villiers.

“We often see a reactive rather than a proactive approach to reputation management, whereby organisations try to minimise reputational damage amid a crisis. Conducting reputation research regularly will help pin point business areas that pose reputational risks and enable organisations to address these risks to prevent or mitigate crises,” adds le Roux.

One thing clients must do when investing in their reputations

Le Roux recommends, “Before investing in or embarking on any communication or marketing initiative, invest in research. Get to understand your stakeholders, understand their mind set, perceptions and communication preferences; it’s important to find out what is important to them as this will help you with formulating key messages that make an impact.

“We have found that quantifying reputations gets communicators noticed and listened to at C-Suite-level. The results provide a solid base to work from opposed to assumptions.

“Research, specifically reputational risk assessments, helps with the identification of possible crisis scenarios, which can then be proactively planned for,” adds le Roux.

What are the biggest communication changes we’ll see on the continent over the next five years?

“Africans are going to reclaim the African narrative and focus on the many success stories of our continent. I think connectivity will be increased all over the continent and costs will come down so that everyone will have the opportunity to benefit from being online.

“I believe in the next few years public and private organisations will all have Chief Reputation Officers in their C-Suite teams, and I hope that Africa will be ahead of the pack in this area,” says de Villiers.

“We want to start a movement whereby it becomes common practice for organisations to share their reputation scores, especially as part of a due diligence process when deciding who to conduct business with,” urges le Roux. “If your reputation score is available for everyone to see, I am sure businesses will start thinking very differently about how they conduct themselves.”

Getting Africa’s reputation back on track

Africa will only change its reputation if it takes responsibility for it and takes the power away from all those outsiders who continue to tell her story. It’s all about changing the narrative of our continent, and it starts with getting the ethics and reputation in place. Taking control, and celebrating the incredible continent that is ours, is a key driver for the African Public Relations Association (APRA), which values the importance of research. This year for the second year in a row, APRA has partnered with Reputation Matters to conduct research across the continent to take stock of and measure Africa’s ethics and reputation. We are calling on all executives, business owners and professionals in the communication space to help drive this change, by completing the survey:

It is also available in French:

The results will be presented at the APRA conference taking place in Kigali, Rwanda from 13 to 17 May 2019.

Continue the reputation management discussion with us at or call +27 (0)11 317 3861. We are also on Facebook and Twitter @ReputationIsKey

For more information about BCW visit