THE media's role in building Nelson Mandela Bay's brand was scrutinised during a heated debate yesterday. The debate, hosted by the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA), focused on whether the media could be "enablers" of the region's brand and vision.
MBDA marketing and communications manager Luvuyo Bangazi said because the Bay's economy was mostly built on the automotive sector, "it is very unstable".
The agency had identified the tourism industry as a growth area.
"The city is more than just about what happens at City Hall. The MBDA has an interventionist approach to the city's decay and [is] catalytic in nature. We are a vehicle of the city, a child of the municipality, and we would like to meaningfully engage with the media to build the city's brand," Bangazi said.
He cited refurbishments to the Athenaeum, Donkin Reserve and Parliament Street as some of the agency's successes.
The Baakens Valley and harbour development, Vuyisile Mini Square, Western Road and Rink Street were also earmarked for facelifts.
Former The Herald business editor Sicelo Fayo facilitated the debate.
"We all belong here and need to get the city going forward," he said.
"We need to identify selling points to entice investors and promote the city's views.
"Social development is achieved through rapid sustainable economic growth. The nature of the media's work impacts on the city's efforts."
The Herald politics editor Nwabisa Makunga said the newspaper often carried positive reports, but also had to document the negative.
"We have told the story of how we [Nelson Mandela Bay] make some of the best cars in the world," Makunga said.
"We have also told the story of how we are pioneers in green energy ...
"But we have to tell the story of how our rates are often misused.
"Too often when we do this, we are labelled as having betrayed the [city's] vision."
Financial Mail senior associate editor Songezo Zibi, who studied and worked in Nelson Mandela Bay before moving to Gauteng, in a recent column wrote: "If a city's leadership shows its residents it can do the small stuff, then we can trust it with the big stuff."
He said there was brutal competition among South Africa's cities, regions and provinces.
"The way cities communicate what dreams they serve is important, especially in terms of getting investors to buy into your dream."
If the city put money into projects, private investors would follow, he said.