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The major themes – by W7Worldwide’s Abdulrahman Inayat

W7Worldwide's co-founder and director, Abdulrahman Inayat, examines trends shaping communications in 2022 in the Middle East

By Abdulrahman Inayat , co-founder and director, W7Worldwide

Public relations will play a leading role as the economy needs to recover and we adjust to a changing world in 2022. Being able to tell your story to the right audience at the right time and in the right way puts communications at the forefront for all organisations. The pandemic has had a profound effect on the way companies operate and communicate with their publics and customers. W7Worldwide identified certain key themes Middle East communicators need to incorporate into their 2022 strategies.

The urgent need to address climate change is now very much part of the Covid-19 recovery narrative, and companies that do not have a strategy in place that supports a sustainable future will be left behind. We cannot recover from the pandemic without addressing climate change and there is a coming together of the two agendas. Policy makers and governments are focused on building back better post Covid-19 by investing in a green and sustainable recovery.

Playing host to the next two International Climate Conferences with COP27 and COP28 is significant for the Middle East as the world’s hottest, driest and most water-scarce region. In the next few years, the Middle East may prove to be a vital staging ground for the global battle against climate change and lead the way in the great energy transition. The eyes of the world will certainly be on the region.

Sustainability – Without doubt the communications trend we predict to feature most prominently in 2022 in the MENA region will be sustainability. Increasing recognition of business’s role in building a fair and sustainable world has created the need for companies to demonstrate and evidence their sustainability credentials.

Brand purpose – Alongside sustainability credentials, Middle East brands need to focus on their purpose with a strong CSR strategy. Communication is no longer about what you do and how you do it, but why you do it beyond making money. 

Corporate culture – More emphasis has had to be placed on nurturing corporate culture within the business to keep all stakeholders informed and on-side. Before Covid-19, CEOs often struggled to understand the value and business relevance of corporate culture. The crisis has shown us that a strong corporate culture ensures loyalty to the brand and company because the values resonate with employees, customers, and other target audiences. 

Hybrid working – Hybrid working is here to stay for both agencies and clients, so we need to create the infrastructure to tap into the benefits of working remotely. This includes effective internal communication and employee engagement. Successful hybrid working models provide a more flexible and agile way of operating. Equally, events have pivoted to hybrid formats, taking advantage of the fact that virtual access can significantly grow their audience reach and attendance.

Digital – Digital technologies have transformed the way we communicate, learn and shop in the pandemic. Communicators must use digital to move towards customers and engage them directly with personalised content at multiple moments across the customer journey. The modern Middle East PR industry is now backed up by research, analytics and insights, delivering results for clients that hold their best anywhere around the globe.

Localisation – Each country and region will recover from the pandemic at different rates and tackle climate change in different ways. What people experience is therefore not the same everywhere. For communicators, this means thinking and acting hyper-local when it comes to PR.

Humanity – Engaging on a human level is to make an emotional connection with your audience, creating a relationship that triggers responses such as mutual benefit, commitment, belief through social proof, respect for authority and simply being liked. To survive high-impact events, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, brands must connect on the human level. There are many ways a brand can embrace being human, this includes treating all customers with thoughtfulness and respect, and ensuring that employees are inspired and empowered.

The Middle East leads the world in internet penetration, with digitally savvy consumers. This means customer-centricity, humanity and corporate social responsibility are no longer a strategic choice but a business survival technique. Regardless of industry sector, the end user now firmly holds the key to a brand’s relevance and reputation. As we are moving forward into 2022, successful leaders will need to communicate their message more than ever, to inspire, encourage, engage, and share their vision of a sustainable future.