'Clients are losing track of PR's potential': New PRCA MENA chair on industry challenges

New PRCA MENA chair Ahmad Itani (pictured) has called on the industry to focus on illustrating the value proposition and ‘power of PR’ to clients.

New PRCA MENA chair Ahmad Itani.
New PRCA MENA chair Ahmad Itani.

The founder and CEO of Cicero & Bernay Public Relations became regional chair of the industry body last month, succeeding Edelman Middle East CEO Omar Qirem.

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He told PRWeek a major challenge facing the industry is guiding clients about PR’s expanding scope.

“Public relations is a field of constant evolution, and though the challenges that 2020 introduced had a considerable effect on the world over, our industry is accustomed to change,” he said. 

“Today, PR agencies have expanded in scope, from operating explicitly with onboarded account managers, editors and strategists, to actively recruiting videographers, creative directors and community managers, among other creative and digital communication trades.

“The primary challenge is that PR as an industry has evolved so much over the years, clients are losing track of its potential and are becoming unaware of the power and impact it commands.”

Itani said another challenge that brands need to overcome is recognising the importance of the value proposition they present to their stakeholders.

“2020 magnified people’s hyper-awareness more than any other year, and brands must understand that products and services are no longer what breed a loyal customer base; it’s candour and integrity that people are seeking,” he said.

“The sooner brands embrace that truth and consolidate their brand value, the faster their turnarounds will be for the coming year and decade at large.”

Qirem, who will now serve as vice chair, said he was proud of the work PRCA MENA has done for its members across the Middle East and North Africa. 

“No doubt it’s been an extraordinarily tough time recently, but I’ve seen our industry show immense resilience, innovation and creativity,” he said. 

“The importance of community and collaboration has never been more important, and Hayley and the team at PRCA MENA have led brilliantly in this respect. I look forward to supporting Ahmad as vice-chair in what shapes to be an important period.”

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