Prior to becoming involved in the Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA), I used to question whether the days of the professional membership body were numbered. In an age when learning happens online; where the strong preference for digital communications over picking up the phone is all-prevailing; and where taking ‘time out of busy schedules’ to come to events sometimes seems as arduous as undertaking a trans-continental expedition, you might be forgiven for wondering whether trying to bring people together around a shared purpose was too big an ask.
PR on a roll
But, at the start of the second year of my two-year term as Chair of MEPRA, judging by the heavily subscribed attendance at our annual AGM, it’s clear that rumours of a slow decline of the membership organisation in public relations are completely unfounded.
PR in the Middle East is on a roll. 2019 was great. Membership was our largest ever, with a large influx of corporate membership attracted to the value of a regional network. We launched and delivered events, such as our Leadership Majlis series in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh; the National Student Pitch Challenge; our free member seminars; the REMAP creativity conference in Dubai; and our annual awards event was the biggest ever in terms of categories and attendees on the night.
A lasting impression
But this is not just about the numbers, it’s about creating impact.
The MEPRA Executive and Strategy Boards – all volunteers – are united in a commitment to champion excellence in PR across the region; to showcase creativity; to encourage professionalism; and to develop the next generation of young communicators, whose thinking will shape how PR protects and enhances reputations, brands and organisations.
2020: a landmark year
I’m confident that 2020 will be another very good year for industry collaboration. We’ll be continuing our industry mentoring programme and our monthly podcast series. There will be expanded access to MEPRA programmes across regional markets and continuing efforts to enhance the relationships between the buyers and sellers of PR services. We’ll be looking to deepen our engagement with the next generation of communicators, not only to equip them with all the tools they need to progress their careers, but also to provide a forum for ideas.
A common goal
At the AGM, a new member of MEPRA’s strategy board asked what our aim was. It’s quite simple: to leave the profession in a better condition than we found it. Our structure gives us the ability to engage with more than 40 elected board members on a regular basis. By drawing on such a large pool of experience, the positive sum of individual commitments can compound very quickly. We are looking to create a ripple effect for the positive benefit of the industry in the long-term.
Jonty Summers is MEPRA Chair and managing director, Middle East, at Hanover
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