Article in PRWeek ME: http://bit.ly/PRWeekMEPRA
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As a member body for PR professionals in the region, MEPRA strives to encourage ever greater levels of professionalism in the industry, promote good work and uphold the reputation of the sector and our members. Together with a board of almost 50 industry leaders, we promote the highest professional and ethical standards, and encourage integrity and respect to be at the heart of every interaction in the communication community.
MEPRA has grown in size, scope and influence over the past 15 years and never more so than in 2018. We welcomed more members, hosted more events, developed more collaborations and delivered more training than ever before. We also reshaped our operations to enable us to deliver more value to members.
These members now have access to free breakfast seminars with expert speakers, free webinars and online training resources through our partnership with the CIPR, a mentoring programme that matches junior professionals with senior leaders, the opportunity to attend MEPRA’s Industry Leaders Dinner Series, plus access to a number of discounts through industry partners.
We had some major event highlights such as the MEPRA Leadership Majlis, the new REMAP creative communications festival and the MEPRA Awards, which continues to be the region’s pre-eminent industry event. We also launched a new Student Chapter to help graduates entering the workforce, connect employers and interns, and help navigate internship programmes.
We are looking forward to continuing to build on these strong foundations in 2019. New initiatives will include a “State of the Industry” survey to evaluate how the profession is performing and a content programme, including a podcast series, to address industry issues.
An ‘elephant in the room’ that we wish to address this year is how to enhance relationships and efficiencies between the sellers and the buyers of PR services. It is the view of a broad cross-section of MEPRA members – both corporates and agencies – that the procurement of communications services needs to be conducted more strategically in the Middle East. We are setting up an industry group to look at how we support tighter alignment and communications between end users, procurement teams and agencies to ensure clearer understanding of strategy, objectives, scoping, deliverables and expectations as to what can be achieved on all sides.
A core part of MEPRA’s commitment to the industry is to build the capabilities of communication professionals in the region, encouraging practitioners to continue to invest in themselves, no matter what their level of experience.
The MEPRA Academy 2019 training programme includes face-to-face workshops on a variety of topics, from content creation and digital marketing to crisis management and media training. Our free member breakfast seminars kick off this month with a session led by Facebook on mastering video content using tools offered through the platform. Members can also look forward to a seminar hosted by Google in early April on digital marketing and a session with markettiers on how podcasting is transforming the way we share news.
In 2018, the MEPRA Academy trained more than 200 PR professionals in a variety of disciplines. Through our continued partnership with the International School of Communications, a number of courses are delivered in Arabic and will continue in 2019.
One of the biggest challenges facing communicators in the Middle East is helping employers and client organisations better understand what communications is, and the benefits it can deliver for them. For most people, that’s going to be significantly easier to do with formal study as a foundation. Our partnership with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations was the CIPR’s first partnership with any industry body worldwide. It provides MEPRA members with access to a continuing professional development certification pathway that is unsurpassed globally in this format. More than 350 MEPRA members registered for the CPD platform in 2018.
Jonty Summers is chairman of MEPRA and managing director of Hanover Middle East