We all want to improve our image – people, organizations, countries, even continents. Let’s face it – it helps us to look good! ET Communications, a Washington-based firm, says one way to promote a positive image of Africa is to show the world African products and services. It says they can speak for Africa, simply by being world class. But first, people have to know about these products and services. So ET Communications will launch what it calls an “Africa Best” campaign later this year. It will showcase products and services that meet world-class standards. ET expects the campaign to contribute to a more balanced image of Africa.
Elizabeth Tsehay is president of ET Communications. She tells English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje that promoting Africa’s image itself is not a difficult task. She says, “What’s difficult for what we are doing is finding the necessary resources to promote African products.” She says, “Given the many priorities in Africa, that’s the difficulty.”
Tsehay says some things tend to stick in people’s minds and help create a negative image of Africa. “A starving child in Ethiopia in the mid-80’s, children with their limbs cut off in Sierra Leone more recently…. Those sort of images are difficult to dispel once they are in your mind.” She says the best way to counter such images is to proactively come up with other images that would balance out the negative images. “That,” she says, “is something Africans have do for themselves.”
The promotions executive accepts the media’s key role in shaping Africa’s image. But she says the main issue for journalists is credibility. “Reporters are not public relations people. It’s not their job to tell your positive stories.” Tsehay says African journalists play another equally important role. “African journalists in the Diaspora and on the continent are very good about providing context and analyses that are perhaps missing from other mainstream media.” She says, “If we are able to see the bigger picture more often, we wouldn’t have these sort of fixed figures of Africans in our imagination.” Tsehay believes aggressively showcasing African success stories in the Diaspora is another way of helping promote Africa’s image.