RIYADH: The 2019 MEPRA Leadership Majlis will be held on Oct. 21 in Riyadh and is themed “Impact and Influence.”
Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) Chair Jonty Summers said: “It’s our first leadership conference in Saudi Arabia. By bringing together leading figures in communications, both from the Middle East and internationally, we hope to spark a discussion around ideas as we address some of the most pressing topics facing the profession of public relations in the region.”
In an interview with Arab News, Summers said the event has lined up a range of interesting speakers, including a number of international and regional governments and organizations such as The Red Sea Development Company, Center for Government Communication, Saudi Arabian Airlines, YouTube and Page.
Summers, who has been based in the Middle East for the past 10 years, is the managing director of Hanover Middle East, a corporate and health care communications agency. He said MEPRA is the largest public relations industry body in the region serving the needs of communications professionals in the government, corporates and agencies.
“As an industry body we exist to promote professional standards and best practice in public relations and to build the skills of its professionals. I was voted in as chair by members of MEPRA for a two-year term last year,” he added.
According to Summers, the MEPRA Leadership Majlis aims to bring together senior communication leaders from across the region to uncover the industry’s biggest challenges, trends and opportunities.
“It’s a core part of our work to build understanding of public relations in the Middle East, both as a profession and as a driver of organizational reputation and sharing knowledge and thought leadership is one way we do that,” he said.
He said after successfully holding the MEPRA Leadership Majlis in Abu Dhabi for the past five years, it was only natural to create a forum in Riyadh for communicators here to come together and share their thoughts.
Saudi Arabia is on a journey to modernization, socially and economically. There have been a significant number of reforms recently and these domestic changes certainly play a part in how the country is now perceived.
Jonty Summers, MEPRA chair
Summers said the public relations industry in the Middle East is extremely vibrant.
“There are a lot of agencies — large and small, international and local — and there are a lot of specialist agencies, for example, broadcast, digital or measurement specialists. Some countries in the region have a larger and more developed, more competitive agency environment than others. Like any industry, it will cluster where there is interesting work to do,” he said.
According to Summers, Saudi Arabia does not have as many agencies as it needs to achieve its long-term ambitions.
“Saudi Arabia is on a journey to modernization, socially and economically. There have been a significant number of reforms recently and these domestic changes certainly play a part in how the country is now perceived,” he said.
“But the big change from an international perspective is going to be investment in tourism and the opening up of the country for international visitors to experience Saudi Arabia, its people and culture for themselves.”
MEPRA’s monthly podcast — The Brief — is fast gaining popularity in the region.
“We have a really wide range of guests who address key issues, challenges and trends for communications professionals in the region. Last week we had a conversation with Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal Abbas about the publication and its upcoming launch in Japan and the cultural similarities between Japan and Saudi Arabia,” Summers said.
The podcast is available to download on mepra.org/podcasts/