In an exclusive interview with Communicate, Julie Exner and Madhu Kuttat share more details about their new partnership.
Dubai-based public relations consultancy, Watermelon Communications has partnered with IPREX, a US$420 million global network of communication agencies with footprints across the world. Communicate spoke with Julie Exner (Right), Global President, IPREX and Madhu Kuttat (Left), Managing Director, Watermelon Communications to learn more about their partnership and IPREX's plans in the MENA region.
How did the partnership with Watermelon come about? What were the conversations like?
Julie Exner: IPREX has a difficult partner selection process as we are comprised of only the very best PR agencies in the business. Every partner is extensively vetted by staff and a global board, and then must be approved by the existing membership. The initial conversations were very much focused on suitability - in both directions. IPREX’s benefits to partners are often proportional to the effort [they] put in, and this unique relationship needs to be explained and understood from the start. Watermelon was recommended to us by an existing partner - our favorite way to find new members, so, it immediately provides a platform of trust for both parties.
Madhu Kuttat: For Watermelon, the partnership fits with our ambition to enhance our footprints in global markets by joining hands with expert entities in the sphere of the communication business. Over the years, this has been our strategy and when the IPREX partnership came along, our first conversations revolved around how this will create value to our services, as well as what we could give in return. As a Dubai-based, home-grown entity with deep grassroots connection, Watermelon has a reputation of delivering on its commitments, and this is what we offer to the IPREX community. What we gain [in return] is an opportunity to explore taking our propositions of communicating to a Middle East audience to our global peers.
What does the partnership entail?
JE: IPREX membership means different things to different partners, as agencies pull from the network the valuable elements that benefit them. Some common threads include building a network of peers around the world where partners can win and share business, develop professionally, benefit from international opportunities, and determine even stronger best practices. Partners join committees to help direct the network, and Watermelon has already signed up, with a member of the team serving on our emerging leaders committee - an impressive committee that has built our very first global leadership program, the IPREX Academy.
MK: These are times of shared economy and services and the IPREX-Watermelon partnership is in line with the nature of this concept. What it brings to us and to the IPREX community members is a path to reach out to distant global markets from respective home bases, without incurring investment expenditure. We expect that Watermelon can access a global community of PR and communication professionals and agencies, without having to resort to spend on establishing a presence of our own in markets away from us. This obviously is a win-win situation for Watermelon as well as IPREX members, and we do look forward to advance this peer-to-peer relationship further for fruitful business success for all
What are IPREX's plans for expansion in the Middle East?
JE: The Middle East has one of the highest rates of population growth in the world and plays a major role in global economics and politics - which is why it's a priority area for IPREX.