Middle East Power Book 2021

The definitive guide to the brightest and most influential PR professionals in Middle East.

Search the Power Book:
Sunil John

Sunil John

President – Middle East

Asda'a BCW

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What is your single biggest learning, professionally, from the past 12 months?

‘Kill your darlings!’ I learnt not to be too attached to the conventional ways of doing business but to keep my mind open, be bolder, and reinvent our business model. That is the only way to be relevant to your clients.

From 1 (low) to 5 (high), how optimistic are you about the growth of PR and marketing in the Middle East over the next five years – and why?

4. Reasons: events like Expo 2020 Dubai and FIFA World Cup 2022 in Doha; the peace dividends from the cessation of conflict in several ME nations – the Abraham Accords will also play a key role; and the transition to a low-carbon economy calling for strong ESG communications.

What is the single biggest threat to the PR industry and brands in the Middle East over the next five years – and why?

The culture of mediocrity: many senior practitioners with a cut-and-paste approach and zero originality are undermining the real value of PR.

From 1-5, how well do you think comms agencies in the region are addressing current digital trends? Please explain.

3. While several agencies have embraced digital trends, many others are still stuck in traditional ways. It is a mixed bag now, but I am optimistic of comms agencies making a faster transition to being digital-first and not losing market share to other comms disciplines.

Which areas of comms have become more influential within organisations over the past 12 months – and why?

1. Public Affairs, as government comms are now central, following the pandemic, to keep citizens and residents informed and assured. 2. Crisis Comms, as businesses have been exposed to unprecedented new challenges. 3. Internal Comms, as open lines of engagement are crucial to keeping employees motivated.

Which single channel has become significantly MORE powerful for organisations/brands over the past 12 months – and why?

Earned media in both traditional and digital spaces has been more powerful, supported by organic growth in social media. Webinars have become a permanent feature, creating a new area of opportunity for curating, and delivering high-quality online events.

Which single channel has become significantly LESS powerful for organisations/brands over the past 12 months – and why?

Events and conferences in old traditional formats have become irrelevant. The sector must redefine itself for a new reality, more so with non-essential business travel out of budgets.

Which organisation has had the worst 12 months in terms of reputation?

The Arab League: it struggles to be relevant and shows inaction consistently on important issues facing the region.

And which one has had the best year in terms of building brand trust and reputation? (Not your own organisation.)

Brand UAE: For the firm leadership in taking timely action to address the pandemic and for achieving a high percentage of vaccine threshold – the fastest in the world – with no discrimination to any resident.

Name one way in which your experience of the past 12 months has changed you?

My belief in the goodness of humanity – especially with the selfless efforts of frontline health workers.