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The Middle East’s burgeoning public relations (PR) industry adds on a new growth engine with the opening of the first dedicated PR training college in Dubai by the Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA), on December 12, 2006.
MEPRA joins hands with the UK-based International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO), an international umbrella-organisation of public relations consultancies, to launch the MEPRA-ICCO College to offer on-line and class-room courses for managerial, supervisory, entry level public relations professionals and aspirants.
MEPRA Chairman Sadri Barrage, Executive Committee Member, Sunil John and ICCO Secretary General Simon Quarendon signed the agreement to build and operate a dedicated training college facility for MEPRA in Dubai.
“Public relations is increasingly being recognised in the Middle East as a critical part of marketing and corporate communications strategies,” said Barrage. “The MEPRA-ICCO College is a first-of-its-kind initiative providing MEPRA members with easy access to world class training resources, helping them to further raise the level of PR practice across the region.”
A MEPRA-ICCO College Advisory Board has been constituted with Sunil John and MEPRA Treasurer Dave Robinson amongst its first members. The board reviews course content and serves as the pubic advocate of the College.
Nick Barnett, the UK-based principal of ICCO College, will head the MEPRA-ICCO College. His extensive teaching credits include the University of Westminster, Webster’s University, European Business School, Regents Business School and Greenwich School of Management. He is an educational advisor to the Association of Media Evaluation Companies.
“The MEPRA-ICCO College will be an attractive value add to member agencies of MEPRA and their clients. We also aim to reach to the student community to offer these programmes for aspirants,” said John.
“As the vital link between policy makers and the media, PR professionals can execute their role efficiently only when they are in tune with region-specific requirements. With MEPRA opening new chapters across the Gulf and the Middle East region, the MEPRA-ICCO College will meet this goal and launch home-bred talent region-wide in the PR sector as well as further hone the skills of practising professionals.”
Principally aimed at improving the standards of professionalism among PR practitioners across the Middle East region, the MEPRA-ICCO College will offer a modular approach of learning. Specialist tutors formulate and implement the course content. Successful students on completion of all three modules will be presented a MEPRA-ICCO College Achievement Certificate or a MEPRA-ICCO College Merit Certificate based on individual scores. They can also gain a 12-month student membership to the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) providing them with privileged access to the IPRA website which has over 1,200 case studies.
“The ICCO College courses are internationally benchmarked as the pioneering industry-led training modules for the public relations sector,” said Quarendon. “The courses cover the gamut of the industry – from account management to writing skills and strategic PR. With the MEPRA-ICCO College, we are further streamlining the course content to suit ground realities and enable PR professionals in the region to add value to their services.”
“The MEPRA-ICCO training methodology introduces a flexible learning environment for students, who can acquire news skills even as they work,” said John. “The economically priced training and easy access to world-class PR practices are in the best interests of the individual, the employer and the PR industry as a whole.”
The MEPRA-ICCO College will launch with online courses to be offered through January and February 2007, followed by classroom courses that will begin in March 2007. The online courses are particularly suited for PR industry aspirants and junior-level staff. Registrations can be made online at www.mepra.org. Students studying a course will have access to on-line tutors, who are PR industry experts.
Classroom based courses - specifically tailored to meet the requirements of supervisory staff and senior management staff - will be run twice-yearly, thrice-yearly or quarterly depending on demand. Students are assured of personalized tutoring and on-line study materials with the teaching methodology focused on delivering practical skills.
“ICCO College is recognized by 29 trade associations around the world and endorsed by other professional bodies such as IPRA,” added Quarendon. “This global acceptance of our training programmes will be applicable for students of the MEPRA-ICCO College too. We ‘walk the course’ with students, and the self-study courses will show how PR works in a practical setting and how important it is for modern businesses.”
MEPRA-ICCO College will offer a roster of courses developed specifically for the region covering areas such as launch campaigns, the first steps in managing the PR business, and managing corporate communications and PR. For more details, log on to: www.mepra.org.
The Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) is a non-profit organisation that represents the interests of the Middle East public relations consultancy industry. MEPRA endeavours to highlight the strategic role of public relations in the Arab world and help set high standards for quality and ethical conduct by consultancy firms. The Association provides a single point of contact for government, the business community and the media to talk to the region's growing PR industry. MEPRA's full membership currently consists of over 20 public relations firms with more than 50 offices across the Middle East region. MEPRA is registered at Dubai Media City in the United Arab Emirates and is a member of the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO), which represents over 1,000 PR consultancies across 29 countries.
The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) is the voice of public relations consultancies across the world. The ICCO membership comprises national trade associations representing independent public relations consultancies operating in 29 countries around the world, from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, America and Australia. These affiliated trade associations collectively have 1,000 PR consultancies as their members who between them employ over 25,000 staff. ICCO's membership comprises 26 Full Members (countries which have a formal trade association of PR consultancies) and three Observer Members.