That’s why the Brand South Africa/IMC is bringing a group of top-notch US bloggers to SA in first week of December and hosting them on a first-of-its-kind 8-day tour that will showcase South Africa as an extraordinary nation of creative problem-solvers who do difficult things well.
Travelling with the group will be two of South Africa best-known bloggers, Thoughtleader’s Ndumiso Ngcobo, author of “Some of My Best Friends are White”, and Nicholas Haralambous of SARocks.co.za, along with Simon Barber, the IMC’s US Country Manager, who blogs at brandsouthafricablog.com. Nich will also be blogging for the Homecoming Revolution website whilst on the trip.
Armed with their laptops, cameras and digital recorders — and 3G wireless modems generously supplied by Vodacom to give them 24/7 access to the web – the bloggers will:
1. Helicopter out to De Beers’ state of the art mining ship, Peace in Africa, off the west coast;
2. Get a close look for South Africa’s green technology, including the Joule electric car and the Darling wind farm;
3. See the sun set over the Richtersveld;
4. Descend 3.7 kilometres to the ore face at Anglogold Ashanti’s Tau Tona mine, the world’s deepest;
5. Hike in the Magaliesberg with an innovative programme to rescue troubled youth;
6. Overnight in Soweto to get a feel for its history and transformation;
7. Visit Soccer City to get the latest on 2010;
8. Drink a little wine with the folks from Stormhoek winery who pioneered the use of web-based social networks to be an internationally-respected brand;
9. And much, much more on a remarkable itinerary assembled with the invaluable help of the well-known science-writer, author, educator and blogger Graeme Addison.
As they go, the bloggers will be posting on their experiences and impressions in words, pictures, video and sound. Their posts will be aggregated at a special site, www.weblogtheworld.com , and also available as an RSS feed. Photos will be posted to flickr, videos to YouTube and Zoopy.
Explaining the thinking behind the tour, IMC’s Barber said: “The beauty of the Internet, blogs and technologies like Facebook, YouTube, Zoopy and Twitter, is that everyone can now be a storyteller and, with a little luck and flair, have their story heard by millions.
“We’re going to be creating all kinds of great content on this tour. We hope our posts will generate tons of links from other blogs, Facebook pages and the like. We hope lots of people will not just watch our videos on YouTube and Zoopy but embed them, along with the tour’s RSS feed and flickr stream, on their own sites. That’s what we’re working to achieve.”
Emphasising the importance of user-generated-content, Barber continued: “If you’re in the market for almost any product or service these days, and you have an Internet connection, the net is your buyer’s guide. You don’t need to listen to sales pitches or succumb to slick ads. You go online and get recommendations from people your trust, other consumers, your peers. That’s the new reality for everyone in the marketing business.
“As the custodian of Brand South Africa, the International Marketing Council’s job is to see that South Africa’s story is told compellingly, convincingly and, above all – because you can neither compel nor convince otherwise – authentically.
“One way to do that is to empower South Africans to use the Internet to talk about the country they love and get themselves heard. Another is to amplify the voices of visitors when they record and share their overwhelmingly positive experiences here. Nothing beats a good third party endorsement.”
Barber cited the example of Kevin DeSouza, an assistant professor at the University of Washington’s School of Information, who spent a couple of months teaching at Wits earlier this year. Here’s a link to what he wrote in his blog when he left: http://kevindesouza.blogspot.com/. As the comments at the bottom of the post show, it had an impact. Shirley Meyer wrote: “Very grateful for the review. I have wanted to visit for a while, but was too worried (nervous). I must buy my ticket now. Thanks a million.”
The US bloggers are:
- 1. Renee Blodgett and Ray Lewis (www.downtheavenue.com),
- 2. Zadi Diaz (www.zadidiaz.com),
- 3. Mona Gable (www.huffingtonpost.com/mona-gable),
- 4. John Gartner (www.matternetwork.com),
- 5. Chris Morrison (www.venturebeat.com),
- 6. David Sasaki (www.globalvoices.org),
- 7. Graeme Wood (www.theamericanscene.com,
- 8. Eliane Fioret (www.ubergizmo.com).
For further information, please contact: Simon Barber, US Country Manager
Cell: +1 202 276 5084
Office +1 202 657 5758 / +1 202 432 5607
From November 28: +27 76 822 7365
Skype name: barber.com
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