Published: Jun 18, 2014
Source: Oman Daily Observer

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Public relations in Mena able to take on challenge of innovation: expert

The public relations industry in the MENA region has reached a level of maturity that matches the global practice but must prepare to operate with greater innovation, concluded communications experts at a roundtable recently organised in Dubai on the state of the regional communications industry.

Communications experts and senior executives from leading Middle Eastern companies including Etisalat, Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) and Gulf Craft convened at the roundtable entitled “Transformation: The Communications Industry in the MENA Region Today”, jointly organised by TRACCS, the largest home-grown public relations network in the region, and The Holmes Report, a global authority on the PR industry.

The in-depth discussion was moderated by Paul Holmes, Founder of the Holmes Group, with the participation of Dr Ahmed bin Ali, Senior Vice-President Corporate Communications and Official Spokesperson of Etisalat Group; Bassem Terkawi, Senior Director of Strategic Communications at TDIC; Erwin Bamps, Chief Operating Officer at Gulf Craft; and Mohamed al Ayed, President and Chief Executive Officer at TRACCS.

The roundtable focused on key issues affecting the growth and sustainability of the public relations industry in the MENA region’s rapidly evolving business and cultural environment.

One positive development highlighted was the universal acceptance that in-house PR departments and agencies no longer needed to prove their value to senior management, and that the function of PR was widely understood and increasingly taken seriously.

Etisalat’s Dr Ahmed bin Ali emphasized that PR is “no longer an accessory to a business, it is a necessity that is paramount to creating the identity and vision of the organisation.”

According to TRACCS’s Mohamed al Ayed there are five critical phases in the transformation of any industry: realisation, understanding, growth, maturity and innovation. He added that the PR industry in the MENA region has now reached maturity and provides a clear value proposition within the communications mix.

There was widespread agreement that more effective metrics to assess performance outcomes and impact were needed notwithstanding a weak will in the industry to introduce effective reporting parameters.

“The ‘Transformation’ expert roundtable is one of several key initiatives undertaken by TRACCS to develop the communications industry in the MENA region, and the first of its kind to be organised in the UAE following PR Forums organised by TRACCS in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and Lebanon,” said Mohamed al Ayed, TRACCS President and Chief Executive Officer.

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