Middle East Power Book 2022

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

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Mamoon Sbeih

Mamoon Sbeih

President, MENA Region

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.

As we are getting out of COVID-19 pandemic, change is happening faster than ever. Long-term strategy, as we know it, is becoming a thing of the past.

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?

5. The industry continues to take centre stage in a region which increasingly realises that reputation significantly affects business. Be it affecting bottom line for a private sector company, or the ability to implement strategy for a government entity.

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

Skillset. Today’s clients are mature and well versed in the world of PR. What they need is high-level strategic and yet comprehensive support from their agencies.

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

Integration. Clients are demanding comprehensive, integrated, multiplatform and multichannel solutions. The PR industry can sit at the centre of this integration, given the diversity of the skillsets the industry attracts and employs.

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

3. The approach and digital strategy adopted by most agencies has been static and short of disruptive innovations. The deliverables are more or less the same and not evolving with the changing ecosystem.

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?

I would say public affairs accross sectors. Governments have played and still play pivotal role in the recovery process and many in the region have introduced multiple new rules and regulations to drive economic growth. As such the private sector needed to engage better on this front.

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?

Earned media. We see that the community trusts and follows testimonials and experiences from individuals rather than companies. User-generated content is now crucial for the success of organisations. This is evident with the rise and growth of micro-influencers.

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?

Organic content is declining in reach and effectiveness across most SM channels. This is due to the nature of the algorithm which limits reach and prioritises paid content. Also, SM platforms are also prioritising the reach of personal over corporate accounts, such as LinkedIn News feature.

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

We work with many global brands...

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.)

LEGO. The brand is known for continued innovation, investment in education and market localisation (eg Ramadan products). The LEGO success story told by its leadership across different platforms and how the company managed to overcome bankruptcy is also a case study taught around the world.

(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?

In a world of too many unknowns, twists and turns, the soft skill of flexibility is most important.