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Restoring Trust Through Effective Communication

Restoring Trust Through Effective Communication



In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Fast forward to March 2021, and a host of vaccines are available worldwide. In Africa, progress is being made with vaccine production and distribution. However, the primary challenge now is rebuilding trust, which can only be achieved through consistent, professional, and empathetic communication.


Trust Barometer Insights

Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer reveals that Nigerians trust civil society organizations most, followed by businesses. Media and government rank lower in trust. Nigerians expect their employers, including businesses, to take proactive stances on societal issues (92%) and drive positive changes (79%). However, trust levels across Africa are generally low.


Turning Crisis into Opportunity

The public sector, globally, faces the greatest trust crisis. Yet, governments are crucial for community well-being, requiring trust from investors, citizens, and businesses. Trust is essential for mobilizing resources, enforcing health standards, educating on social issues, and promoting national laws.


Role of Businesses

Businesses are trusted due to their social missions and communication investments. Advertising budgets were increasing pre-pandemic. In our region, advertising spending in Côte d’Ivoire kept rising. New public expectations include engagement in societal issues, crisis and product management, and eco-responsible products and services. Communication should shift to being informative and interactive, involving public opinion as a valuable source of information.


Impact of NGOs

NGOs, with their tangible actions, enjoy high trust levels. However, increased information exposure and polarization pose risks. Trust in NGOs allows them to relay messages between communities and leaders, fostering some citizen vigilance.


Addressing Key Issues

Vaccination, digital transformation, and misinformation require active participation from all stakeholders in shaping public opinion. In a region with a youthful population and growing internet access, traditional communication methods need innovation. Tools for monitoring social media platforms should be improved to counter misinformation campaigns that erode trust.


Opinion & Public’s Commitment

At Opinion & Public, we aim to build genuine public trust in Francophone Africa for public, private, and non-governmental organizations through positive narratives. This involves continually understanding public opinion, designing analytical models, and implementing communication strategies that align with regional realities.


About the Author

Mariam Essahih is a Client Director at Opinion & Public, a public relations and communication firm based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, affiliated with Burson Cohn & Wolfe. She manages the corporate portfolio and oversees services related to Brand, social media, and Influence. She is a member of the UK’s PRCA (Public Relations and Communications Association).


First published on Financial Afrik