Exclusive: 'Challenging' - Dubai EXPO 2020 comms chief on PR-ing the 'World's Greatest Show'

Jon Bramley, vice president of communications at Dubai EXPO, gives an exclusive interview to PRWeek Middle East about leading the message on the Middle East's biggest-ever event.

Artist's impression of the Dubai EXPO 2020 site (via expo2020dubai.com)
Artist's impression of the Dubai EXPO 2020 site (via expo2020dubai.com)

It is billed as the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ - but what does it take to spread the message of Dubai EXPO 2020 to the world?

Under the banner ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, more than 190 countries will come together for Dubai EXPO 2020; an event that aims to inspire entrepreneurs; allow countries to showcase their latest cutting-edge technology; and transform lives as, creative thinkers seek to tackle issues ranging from climate change to plastic pollution.

"Our once-in-a-lifetime celebration - the largest event ever staged in the Arab world - is set to welcome millions of visitors," organisers have said.

But for an event to be successful, it has to have reach a global audience.

Enter Jon Bramley. As vice president of communications at Dubai EXPO, he is overseeing multi-channel messaging ahead of – and during – the event, which will kick off on October 20 next year. Organisers expect some 25 million visitors over six months.

"We have assembled a multi-talented team combining many, many different experiences and skills from around the world," Bramley told PRWeek Middle East. "We all share one thing in common: a passion and determination to deliver a world-class marketing and communications service that will do full justice to the 'world’s greatest show of human brilliance and achievement', in all its many guises." 

What has it been like managing communications for an event of this scale to date? 

"In a word, ‘challenging’," said Bramley. "This is because of the sheer size and variety of what Expo 2020 Dubai will deliver. Relating all this in ways that will excite a huge worldwide audience is our mission, but we are supported by local and regional media that has been fully engaged from the day we won the bid in 2013.

"Additionally, the public here in the UAE has shown great appetite – not surprisingly – for our story, and that is augmented by worldwide interest that is growing every week."

EXPO 2020 is not only the first World Expo in 168 years to be staged in the UAE, but also the entire Middle East, Africa and South Asian region. Bramley believes this brings great responsibility.

"We feel Expo 2020 has a sense of ownership well beyond our host nation’s borders," he said. "With the help of our global and local PR agencies, our team is co-ordinating a logical, 360-degree approach to storytelling, with all elements at our disposal – marketing, digital and social media, plus broadcast, online and print – working together along a clear roadmap of messaging that will further build anticipation and excitement ahead of our doors opening on October 20, 2020."

What kind of manpower does takes to prepare to spread the message of an event this size? 

"The team is growing all the time and will continue to do so as we approach our opening next year," said Bramley. "The key point is that we’re well-coordinated and crystal clear on our desired outcomes.

"A major part of our task is helping Dubai and the wider UAE show the positive aspects of its story through the work that Expo 2020 Dubai is doing. 

"Accordingly, we work closely with the national media authorities to ensure we’re also well coordinated with their campaigns and current messaging. We hope and believe that Expo 2020 Dubai will offer another shining example of why the UAE sets the bar so high in the realms of tolerance, opportunity, mobility, innovation and sustainability - to name just a few."

When it comes to his biggest hope for Expo 2020 Dubai, Bramley said: "That it achieves all its ambitions for the nation’s leadership and people who have given it such amazing support. It is a game-changing landmark event in tackling the many challenges that humanity currently faces, and [hopefully] leaves a lasting physical, reputational and social legacy for the UAE."

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