Shifting trends in journalism prompt regional PR industry to be more responsive to social media

Published April 28th, 2010 - 02:18 GMT

The first meeting of the newly constituted board of the International Public Relations Association – Gulf Chapter (IPRA-GC), held in Dubai, observed that the shifting trends in journalism - especially in online media - have prompted the regional public relations industry to be responsive and effective in tapping the potential of social media.

The role of journalism and public relations in the Gulf region are complementary, drawing strength and direction from each other. Good journalism will improve the public relations practice, the participants observed.

Mr. Faisal Al Zahrani, President of IPRA-GC and Director of Internal Public Relations, Saudi Aramco, said the objective of the new board of IPRA-GC will be to drive the PR profession in the region to a higher level through a multi-pronged approach. “We will further strengthen regional forums, commit to educational programmes for PR practitioners, and identify new initiatives that will prepare the industry to face the challenges and shifts in media today.”

Addressing the networking meeting, Mr. Hassan Fattah, Editor-in-Chief, The National newspaper, urged the PR industry to challenge the media and step in with the emerging trends including social media and online journalism. “The print media is here to stay for a long time, and will continue to make revenues. But it is important to realize that the business model has changed; it is not about advertising alone but a mix of strategies including the strengthening of online platforms,” he said.

The Board decided to host the 2nd IPRA-GC International PR Conference in Abu Dhabi, UAE, in March 2011, to be attended by leaders in the global and regional PR industry.  Elected for a period of two years, the members also discussed training and educational programmes for 2010-11, the formation of an Advisory Board, renovation of the IPRA-GC website and activating monthly meetings to promote greater industry networking.

The networking event was attended by leading PR and media professionals, and the board of IPRA-GC comprising: Mr. Sultan Al Bazai, Executive Vice President (CEO- Attariq Communications, Saudi Arabia); Mr. Jassim Al Shuwaikh, Managing Director (Head of PR Corporate Events & Activities, Saudi Aramco); Etedal Hamad Al Ayyar, Vice President – Membership (General Manager of WAY Communications, Kuwait); Mr. Ahmed Abed Sheikh, Vice President of Media Relations (PR Consultant – Saudi Aramco); Mr. Sunil John, Vice President for Educational Programmes (Chief Executive Officer, ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller); Mr. Nasir Al Jesmi, Vice President – UAE (Director of Public Relations and Communication Department – Abu Dhabi Municipal Affairs); Mr. Hamoud Al- Ghobaini, Vice President for the Central Region of Saudi Arabia (Deputy Executive President of Mobily, Saudi Arabia); Sarah Al Ayed, Vice President for the Western Region of Saudi Arabia (Managing Director of TRACCS in Saudi Arabia); Mr. Khaled Al Khulaifi, Vice President – Kuwait (Assistant Director Public Relations and Information Department – Kuwait Airways); and Dr. Fahad Ibrahim Al Shehabi, Vice President – Bahrain (Public Relations Director In the Parliament of Bahrain).

The IPRA-GC Board also includes Mr. Jassim Ibrahim Fakhroo, Vice President – Qatar (Director of Communication & Media Department – Hamad Medical Corporation); Mr. Hassan Al Saleh, Vice President – Oman (Managing Director of TRACCS – Oman) and Mr. Salah Al Dhahri, Treasurer (Director – PR Specialist, Saudi Aramco).

IPRA – GC was established in KSA in 2003 as an initiative of Saudi Aramco, to support the Public Relations industry in the region. With over 400 members, the organization is part of IPRA worldwide which was established in London in 1955 and operates from 70 chapters around the world.

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