The SACN, together with communications practitioners from its participating cities, established a City Communicators reference group. The rationale for forming the City Communicators reference group is to ensure that research, analysis, and key strategic messages on urban development and city management reach city target audiences and partners by expanding the communications approaches and collaboration with the communications functions of the different cities. The reference groups are outcomes-driven and consist of key officials responsible for implementing programmes in their respective cities and provide valuable platforms where city practitioners can interact and discuss a range of issues relevant to the implementation of city-specific programmes.
On 10 March 2022, the City Communicators’ Reference Group concluded its marketing and communications development programme with the launch of “Marketing and Communications Toolkits” to enhance the capacity of city communicators to create and elevate public communications and create a space for responsive governance. The 6-module toolkits covering City Branding, Marketing Communications, Crisis Communications, Measuring Communications ROI, Strategic Media Relations and Report Writing were developed by the SACN in collaboration with the Africa Brand Leadership Academy (ABLA). The Toolkits are an outcome of the rigorous pilot Brand Leadership for the Public Sector – Developing Citizen-Centred City Brands 6-weeks training programme developed by SACN and ABLA.
The six weeks programme, attended by practitioners in the City Communications reference group, focused on empowering practitioners to articulate and communicate municipal policy and programmes in a way that engenders citizen approval, mitigates, and manages crises, increases utilisation of public goods, and influences positive public behaviours and ultimately builds competitive city brands. The programme was delivered virtually by ABLA’s international and local academic team, including thought leadership in city branding and author of City Branding, Dr Keith Dinnie, customer satisfaction authority, Professor Adre Schreuder, BBC Africa bureau chief, Milton Nkosi, crisis communication doyenne, Janine Hills, government communications expert Koffi Kouakou and ABLA founder and principal Thebe Ikalafeng. We believe that this Communications Toolkit will provide a valuable reference document and support the capacity of our members in the communications departments across our municipalities.