Middle East Power Book 2022

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

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Elizabeth Sen

Elizabeth Sen

Head of marketing and gender practice

APCO Worldwide

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(In one short sentence) Please sum up your experience working as a senior comms professional in the Middle East these past 12 months.

The most important theme for us was consolidation; after the rough and tumble of COVID-19, several clients were in recovery mode and looking for more meaningful interventions to connect with their stakeholders. 

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

The communications industry is set to grow in double digits. Digital has now come of age; and the demand for effectiveness is bringing us back to messaging and impact. APCO Worldwide's offering of government communications, capacity building, advocacy and public affairs is highly in demand.

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

If industry talent needs were not met appropriately, we would lose credibility. The industry needs to double down on training and talent development.

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

The governments in GCC provide a unique opportunity for public-private partnerships in culture change projects around climate change, gender equity, ESG etc. I think what we can do in the region can then be modelled around the world. As communicators, we have a moral responsibility to do so.

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

Comms agencies in the region have now employed several people who have excellent understanding of both implementation and stratgey for digital channels.

Which areas of comms have become more influential within organisations over the past 12 months (eg corporate affairs, brand marketing PR, public affairs, healthcare comms? Or any other?) – and why?

In these times of great change, internal communications, CEO positioning and thought leadership and corporate affairs are of utmost importance to organisations. Consumer PR efforts have now been converted into direct digital outreach.

Which single channel has become significantly MORE powerful for organisations/brands over the past 12 months (eg earned, paid or owned media, social media, experiential/events?) – and why?

There is an increasing amount of focus on owned media channels. The ability to directly engage stakeholder groups through platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube with your own messaging cannot be ignored now.

Which single channel has become significantly LESS powerful for organisations/brands over the past 12 months (eg earned, paid or owned media, social media, experiential/events?) – and why?

This is sector specific. Our private sector clients are now spending less on experiential events, whereas government has increased its budgets on the same. The credibility of earned media is still highly desirable in the media mix for both government and private sector.

Which organisation/brand/person in the region has suffered the worst 12 months in terms of reputation? (Please name one.)

The regional cinema brands took a hit during the pandemic. Unfortunately, they have not been able to recover to pre-COVID levels.

And which organisation/brand/person in the region has enjoyed the best year in terms of building brand trust and reputation? (Please name one – not your own organisation or client.)

I am very impressed by Mubadala and how it built its global brand and employer brand.

(In one short sentence) Name one key insight or skill that you’ve acquired over the past 12 months that has transformed your professional or personal life?

Just like several others, I have learned practical tips on how to prioritise my health and make a real difference.