Public relations guru Allan Biggar kicked off the Public Relations Congress being held at the JW Marriott Hotel 11 and 12 December with a challenge for global corporations and regional businesses to improve their communications through sound public relations practice. Biggar, as CEO of International Insights, the London based strategic communications consultancy, is an outspoken advocate of doing business in the Middle East with many years of experience as a PR practitioner in the region. His speech, called “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee: an Opportunity Called the Middle East” set the tone for the conference, which is focused on how the practice of public relations form a critical discipline in the age of globalisation. “Today PR is expanding its role as a strategic discipline as advertising has become largely a commodity with the only differentiator between agencies often being how good a media buy can they get for clients,” he told reporters after his speech. “PR agencies and professionals are being seen more and more as trusted business advisors, sitting at the 'top table' bringing a 'holistic' approach to business problems and opportunities while the advertising guys are limited to the pretty pictures”.
The first day of the conference also included contributions from leading regional and international public relations practitioners, including Sadri Barrage, Managing Director of Headline PR and Chairman of MEPRA and Mohamed Al Ayed, CEO of Trans-Arabian Creative Communications Services (TRACCS), Stuart Wilson, Head of Corporate Communications for Hill & Knowlton, UK, Zahra’a Taher, who leads Bahrain’s leading event management practice, T&M EventsCom, and David Barker, Head of Communications for the British Heart Foundation, UK.
“The focus of this year’s Public Relations Congress is to address practical issues that are relevant to our local environment in the Middle East,” said Jennie Bishop, Conference Director for IIR, the organizers of the Public Relations Congress. “Public relations has become a critical tool in bridging gaps of understanding between the Middle East and the rest of the world. This gathering of professionals, dealing with very specific issues that are vital to the economic, political and social welfare of the region, aims to raise the standards of this burgeoning profession.”
The Public Relations Congress is sponsored by Etisalat, which has been the telecommunications service provider in the United Arab Emirates since 1976, ASDA’A Public Relations, one of the Middle East’s leading PR practices and LG Electronics. Trans-Arabian Creative Communications Services (TRACCS), one of the fastest growing and widest reaching practices in the Middle East, is the official public relations partner with Arab Ad, Campaign Middle East and Communicate as official media partners. The Public Relations Congress is being organised in association with MEPRA (Middle East Public Relations Association).
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