Communication Action Lab shines spotlight on the important role of Communication in City Governance

by Luncedo Njezula
15 May 2023

In a bid to enhance communication between the government and citizens, communicators from major cities across the country recently convened in Johannesburg for a communication action lab. The event’s goal was to facilitate the exchange of ideas, skills, and knowledge in the constantly evolving realm of government communication.


In today’s world, effective communication is critical to the efficient functioning of modern governance. As such, city governments are prioritising transparency, citizen engagement, and the delivery of information in ways that are accessible and relevant to contemporary audiences. To achieve this, communicators must be equipped with practical skills and tools to effectively engage with citizens. The communication action lab provided a platform for participants to reflect, brainstorm, and learn new techniques that can be implemented in their respective cities. In today’s digital age, it’s no secret that how people consume information has drastically changed. And with change comes new challenges for city communicators looking to engage with citizens. To keep up, city communicators are realising the importance of leveraging digital communication to enhance their outreach and create more compelling content.


Whether mastering the art of social media communication and marketing or learning how to craft compelling content, city communicators must be willing to adapt and learn new skills.


Another key topic discussed was the absence of trust between city governments and their citizens. While many points to inefficient communication as the root cause of this issue, a deeper analysis is needed to truly understand the problem. Sure, coherent and honest communication can help build trust between citizens and their governments, but it’s not the only factor at play. Without city governments’ compassion, consistency, and competence, it’s unlikely that citizens will trust or support them.


Despite the challenges highlighted, the gathering also presented exciting opportunities. What made the event truly successful was the willingness of the communicators to engage with one another. They were open to sharing ideas, discussing best practices, and learning from each other’s experiences. The connections made during this event were invaluable. To add colour to the event, expert speakers tackled complex topics related to crisis communication, reputation management, storytelling, media relations, media training, political communication, and social media. Their diverse perspectives provided a global view of these critical topics, elevating the gathering to greater heights.


I have no doubt that these communicators are up to the task. They will prioritise accessibility, inclusivity, transparency, and trustworthiness in their dealings with citizens. As the world changes rapidly, it’s more important than ever that communications professionals stay ahead of the curve. By working collectively and learning from each other, they can continue to provide high-quality communication services to their communities.

Luncedo Njezula is the Executive Manager: Governance, Strategy and Partnerships at the SA Cities Network. To contact him email