WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING THE PR INDUSTRY?
Finding the right talent continues to be our industry’s most significant challenge. When I founded ASDA’A in 2000, the industry, still in its infancy, was mostly run by Western expats.
One of our key objectives was to attract and nurture Arab talent. Today, many key professionals in our sector are graduates from the ASDA’A school.
Now, as our industry transforms to be digital-first, creative and innovative, the demand for talent has changed dramatically.
To address this, we must deploy a mix of two strategies: One, import the best global talent; and two, nurture young Arabs to be tomorrow’s cutting-edge professionals.
WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU WITNESSED IN THE INDUSTRY IN RECENT YEARS?
On the client side, both public and private sector companies are building strong communications divisions.
Many of the best-known global brands from the region, such as Emirates, Mubadala, PIF, Saudi Aramco, ADNOC, Qatar Airways and many more, have some of the smartest in-house communications departments.
Further, experienced PR professionals are being appointed as Chief Communications Officers by leading organisations globally for the first time.
On the agency side, with the Middle East being the single most important global growth market for PR, the region is attracting a new set of global agencies leading to an increased demand for talent.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO CLIENTS WHO WANT TO GET THE MOST OUT OF THEIR AGENCY?
To challenge us and to trust us.
As the region’s pioneering communications consultancy, we understand the needs of our clients, and our single-minded goal is to be trusted advisors, problem solvers, and creative and innovative consultants.
IS THE PR INDUSTRY BEING IMPACTED BY AI?
AI is a powerful tool with strong transformational impact for the PR industry. But it cannot replace the creativity and authenticity that genuine storytelling brings.
While AI can be harnessed to strengthen stakeholder engagement, there is no replacing the power of human thinking.
HOW ARE YOU NAVIGATING THE EVER-CHANGING WORLD OF SOCIAL MEDIA?
We were one of the first communication consultancies to launch a digital and social subsidiary, Proof Communications.
We understand the value that a well-articulated social media strategy can deliver as part of our integrated approach.
Contrary to Marshall McLuhan’s view that the ‘medium is the message’, it is the message that matters. That is why across our integrated offering, our focus is on impactful storytelling.
Sunil John, President – MENA, BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW