South Africa appoints Dow Jones Insight to counter negative publicity

South Africa is to begin monitoring blogs and social networking sites as it steps up efforts to counter negative publicity in the run up to the 2010 World Cup.

World Cup: gearing up for 2010
World Cup: gearing up for 2010

The country's tourism authority has appointed Dow Jones Insight to analyse online and social media coverage across 15 markets, including the UK, US, Australia, China and India.

The development comes after online criticism of South Africa's readiness for the event surfaced during two recent high-profile sporting events: the Confederations Cup, and the British and Irish Lions rugby tour.

South African Tourism chief marketing officer Roshene Singh said that the results of the analysis would determine the appropriate response.

'If it is negative news about the country that is founded in fact, then we'd call upon counterparts in different government departments and the private sector to help us handle a particular situation,' she said.

Singh added that PR responses could include enlisting online influencers as brand ambassadors, or developing a major campaign.

'We realise the importance of word of mouth, and how people tell stories of great and not so great experiences that they have in our country,' said Singh. 'For us to remain relevant, and to ensure that we get even more positive people to share their stories, we must be in those spaces where the conversations are happening ­ and social media is an important one.'

The contract is part of a broader deal that also includes mainstream and broadcast media monitoring.

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