As 2019 begins and the communications industry maps out the opportunities that lie ahead, engagement in initiatives that offer opportunities for advancement, thought leadership and training are being considered by talent at all levels.
The growth and emergence of Public Relations industry associations in the MENA region has facilitated all of the above, including the continued expansion of the UAE-based Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA), which has nurtured the regional PR ecosystem since it was founded in 2001.
Ahead of the organization’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Dubai on January 30, which will be co-led by MEPRA Executive Director and international PR industry veteran Sabrina De Palma and newly elected MEPRA Chair Jonty Summers, we spoke with the latter about MEPRA’s 2019 strategy and impact on the PR industry over the last 12 months.
Discussing the process of selecting MEPRA board members, Summers explains that the upcoming AGM will feature a new process to go along with the usual opportunity for potential board members to pitch their qualifications on stage in front of their industry peers who are casting their votes.
“The 2019 MEPRA Board election will take place during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 30th January 2019. Nominees will have the opportunity to express their interest to join the MEPRA Board during the AGM. All registered MEPRA members are eligible to vote in the election of the Strategy Board. Only members of the Strategy Board are eligible to vote in the election of the Executive Board. The election will be by secret ballot voted by those registered members of MEPRA in attendance at the AGM,” says Summers.
“The Executive Board has also proposed an amendment to the MEPRA Charter to allow the Executive Board to co-opt qualified MEPRA members to the Strategy Board at any time of the year in exceptional circumstances. Our current Charter restricts the election of Strategy Board members to the AGM, which occurs only once a year. Under the revised charter, any co-opted members of the Strategy Board would be nominated and subjected to election by the membership at the next AGM or Extraordinary General Meeting.”
He adds that the MEPRA Strategy Board serves as an advisory board to the Executive Board and will help identify and shape the strategy for MEPRA moving forward, particularly around initiatives such as events like the MEPRA Leadership Majlis and MEPRA Awards Gala and regular training courses offered by MEPRA Academy.
New year, new projects
Summers states that MEPRA had its most impactful year thus far in 2018, expanding with initiatives such as a new Student chapter and Academy courses held in Arabic, yet plans to build on it by leveraging a rising medium in MENA (podcasts) and expanding into a country that is the focus of many UAE-based Communications professionals: Saudi Arabia.
“2018 was the most successful year in MEPRA’s history… We welcomed more members, hosted more events, developed more collaborations and delivered more training than ever before. We had some major event highlights such as the MEPRA Leadership Majlis, run in partnership with the National Media Council in Abu Dhabi, and our new creative communications festival, REMAP, which brought some of the biggest international names in communications to Dubai. The REMAP festival included a regional competition, a series of masterclasses and a creative congress,” says Summers.
MEPRA members also received access to opportunities for accreditation with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and discount prices for services provided by leading regional and global MEPRA partners such as PRWeek, [email protected] and Getty Images.
“MEPRA’s new initiatives for 2019 will include a State of the Industry Survey to evaluate how the profession is performing, a procurement best practice toolkit to help buyers and sellers get the most out of the RFP process and a regular MEPRA podcast to address industry issues and interview the movers and shakers of the communications profession. We will also introduce a mini Leadership Majlis in Saudi Arabia,” he says.