The PRessure Is On: The PR Pressure Conference

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A CommPRO News Update

secret200Over 50 PR agencies and numerous in-house PR departments joined together for the first ever PR Pressure Conference in Dusit Thani, Dubai at the end of may. This event, organized by Secret PR, marked the first of what will be an annual series of conference that will focus on the struggles and difficulties faced by those practicing PR in the Middle East.

One of the highlights from the conference was a series of open discussions surrounding opinions on the media and the PR industry. Inspired by a popular hashtag, #UAEPR, the event offered an open and professional approach to discussing the shortcomings of both industries.  Sessions were headed by speakers from agencies and media, including Nick Rego, Senior Editor at tbreak.com, Sudeshna Ghosh, a consulting editor and freelance writer, Shereen Shabnam, Consultant Head of PR for octOpus and MTE Studios, and Louay Al-Sammarai, Joint Managing Director and Co-Founder of Active (Digital. Marketing. Communications).

Other sessions included discussing the struggles of finding Arabic talent, a look at the tools available to the industry, and the ever present need to develop and improve PR measurements that can adapt to an industry that is ever evolving.Speakers included Dr. Ali Mohamed, founder of AL Arabic Publishing and Training Services, Mohamed Sabe, Digital Media Consultant and former of Head of Content at Yahoo! Middle East, Jill Downie, founder of Aziza Communications, Joe Akkawi, Partner at PAZ Marketing, and Maan Dalghan, PR Director at Quill Communications.

Recurring messages from the speakers highlighted:

  • The PR industry’s need to focus on developing creative content through carefully targeted campaigns and effective media relations
  • The need for PR agencies to move away from the ‘yes man’ culture, educate their clients on PR, and be more assertive with them
  • The need for Arabic content to become more than just a mirror to its English counterpart

In response to the discussions and ideas brought forth at the conference Secret PR will speak to universities, institutes and PR associations in the UAE to encourage them to offer courses targeted at future Arabic PR professionals, as well as internship programs. The next conference, set to take place in the fourth quarter of 2016, will provide an update on what has been achieved so far, and will target a bigger pool of journalists, bloggers, influencers, in-house PR departments, and agency clients.

“While going through the feedback forms, one person said that PR Pressure could be more than just a platform for these open conversations, that it could help bring forward solutions to many of the issues that exist in the industry,” says Sarah Mohamed, Founder & Director of Secret PR. “That was always the plan, and we will endeavor to do so one step at a time.”