Brand Botswana yesterday (Tuesday) engaged with members and leadership of Sports Writers Association Botswana (SWABo); mostly sports journalists to unpack issues of national branding through sports. Brand Botswana’s mandate is centered on national branding through strategic collaborative impacts that create traction for Botswana to be known worldwide. Although this was the first engagement with sports journalists, Brand Botswana continues to engage with the media of various expertises such as business to equip them on how to harness branding through investment, tourism and skill.
When officially opening the one-day talk shop, Brand Botswana Executive Director, Bame Moremong said it is empirical for the media to start branding Botswana as the 2017 National Brand Index sadly rated Botswana as being 49/50 unknown country worldwide. She noted that Botswana stands to be a world epitome if collaborations with institutions such as the media and sports are included in discussions leading to branding and through education on the impacts of the latter.
“As a nation we can bring traction to our shores by using organizations such as SWABo to drive numbers. Botswana has hosted numerous successful tournaments, produced world class athletes and this can positively impact on branding our country.”
Brand Botswana also revealed that they have signed a memorandum of agreement with Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympics Committee (BNOC), adding that they have also supported hosting impactful national assignments such as Vincent Crosbie’s inaugural participation at the Dakar Rally. Other sporting events which Brand Botswana has supported include the Netball Youth World Cup, Diacore Gaborone marathon, Makgadikgadi Epic and the Toyota 1000 Desert Race among many. “These particular sporting events are done as we have understudied their positive and replicating impact to branding our country,” said Thuso Palai, Brand Botswana, Brand Management – International.
“We continue to support sports because we have seen how it can bring the country’s awareness and talk ability instantly. We have a platform where we can check how many people talked about Botswana whether negatively and positively. Last year when our sprinter, Isaac Makwala ran alone at the World Championships, Botswana created a lot of traction from world leaders, journalists, individuals and athletes. This is the national branding we ought to promote thorough sports. We have also facilitated media trainings for our athletes to be aware of what the expectations are when giving media interviews because they are the nation’s ambassadors,” concluded Palai.
When appreciating the course, University of Botswana Media Studies lecturer, Dr. Kennedy Ramojela said the workshop came rightfully for the local media especially when sports continuously dominate viewership around the world. Ramojela gave various sporting activities that up to date have in a space of their time saw over 70% of the world population either beaming or watching live. He further gave a local scenario where sports continues to dominate journalist numbers per match.
“It is a very interesting times to use national branding through sports. If we use trends worldwide, the 2008 Beijing Olympics was watched by 70% of the world population while the FIFA World Cup final in France between Brazil and France clocked 2 billion viewership. So this just goes to show how impactful sport can be. Locally, according to Botswana Football Association (BFA), whenever the national team (Zebras) is playing, they accredit around 100 media personnel to either broadcast, report and technical’s to give Batswana a match report on the day. This is where we could be driving mandates to reach bigger scopes and markets.”
Furthermore, Vice Chairperson of Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)- Botswana chapter, Oteng Chilume said he was thrilled to have been part of the day’s deliberations at the inaugural Brand Botswana/SWABO media workshop as it gives his institution positive reviews from the sports journalist and also goes to show how they can further their mandate of defending press freedom.
“It is interesting to see these engagements as most local editors don’t understand sport reporting compared to other disciplines such as politics, lifestyle or business, so most sports journalists continue to report unmonitored. One of our strategies is to engage with various sporting codes’ public relations units to know how to interact with the media so as to differentiate between relationships and professions. We are also going to do press clubs that will meet monthly to update each other on new and emerging trends,” said Chilume.
For his part, SWABo President Leatile Mmutle said his troops truly acknowledge the educational workshop as it also grow their profiles professionally. He further added that SWABo leadership continues to seek for collaborations to brand their organization and bring international breakthroughs for its members.
“As SWABO we are doing well in branding our country through sports. We are one of the few journalists in Africa that report about local news on a daily basis. These are the reviews we get from forums whenever we engage with our counterparts in Africa. Furthermore we continue to strike collaborations such as scholarships for our members to stay abreast with latest trends. Currently since our existence, our members are now attached to Confederation of African Football and the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations media forums respectively and thus the world will come to know about Botswana and its varied products, services, our people and culture,” he said.