A new regional strategic communication consultancy, Ventana Gulf, has opened its doors in Bahrain's capital Manama to combat a "huge communications gap" coupled with a lack of regional know-how, says its founder.
Bahraini national Abdulla Naneesh told PRWeek Middle East that although Bahrain is a small market, it is an emerging one, and Ventana Gulf - staffed by global experts - will offer key services including strategic communication advice, media relations and training, crisis communication support, investor relations, and employee engagement.
The firm aims to have a reach across the GCC and key MENA markets.
"No doubt there is a huge corporate communications gap in Bahrain and the wider region," Naneesh said. "The PR discipline is relatively new in MENA and has been dominated by international agencies, many of whom either left or downsized their operations since the financial crisis in 2008.
"In addition, local expertise in this field is generally limited, and the need for professional strategic communication has been growing alongside economies in the region over the past decade."
"Building local corp comms skills takes time. Ventana aims to not only help fill the communication gap, but also provide a platform to train local professionals to enable them to carry out their roles more effectively."
Relatively unknown in the PR and comms sector, Naneesh said Bahrain has great growth potential.
"Although Bahrain is a small market, it is an important financial and banking hub and a growing fintech market; it has great growth potential.
"Its geographical location at the heart of the Arabian Gulf makes it convenient for new companies with regional aspirations. Bahrain also provides a modern and professional business environment."
With many global firms struggling to provide local know-how and Arabic content, Ventana Gulf hopes to capitalise on its knowledge of the local market.
"The need for professional Arabic language communication skills has been a challenge for many corporations," said Naneesh. "This is where we can provide added value; where communication messages can be consistent and accurate, regardless of the language used."
Ventana has a team of professionals located in the UK, North America and Bahrain, and offers "c-suite strategic communication and public relations services to help organisations institutionalise their communication efforts, facilitate the achievement of business objectives and build stronger relations with stakeholders", said Naneesh.
"Communications is a key management function that is taken very seriously by successful organisations. Business strategies can be at risk if not communicated effectively. Conversely, in the age of the 24/7 news agenda and instant-impact social media, intelligent communications can protect reputations, nurture human capital and deliver new customers."
The consultancy, which has already picked up a handful of corporate clients in the GCC, handles annual reports, thought leadership platforms, employee engagement, corporate events, digital communications and crisis preparedness – amongst other business-critical services.
"With its local insights, market knowledge and an international team of experts, Ventana can help corporates formulate and execute communication strategies efficiently and cost-effectively," added Naneesh.
A seasoned communications professional, Naneesh has worked with international PR firms and leading financial institutions such as Bank ABC and Gulf International Bank, where he managed global communication activities and branding projects.
He has built a team of internationally and locally minded, highly mobile communications expert,s including Aneesh Sharma, head of strategy, who has extensive experience in corporate and brand strategy.
Other senior consultants include Pere Willoughby-Brown, an experienced communications specialist who has worked on PR and marketing campaigns in Europe, North America, Australasia and the Middle East, specialising in creative approaches to new media and online communications.
Financial copywriting is headed by George Stothard, who has 20 years’ experience as a radio host, PR practitioner and business communications writer. He has worked for consumer and corporate firms, governments and high-profile individuals across the Middle East, Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.
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