DUBAI: The Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) has established a working group to address the challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and consultants in the region.
This followed its survey of 30 independent communication agencies in the UAE, which showed that the four top challenges are managing overdue receivables, cash flow, accessing market reports and managing the request for proposal (RFP) process.
“While the survey revealed many of our small independent members benefit from MEPRA’s free training, wellness support and branding opportunities, we realized there was still a lot of work to do in developing support which specifically addressed unique challenges faced by this group,” said Kate Midttun, the chair of the MEPRA working group and CEO of Acorn Strategy.
The working group also includes Brazen MENA’s Managing Partner Louise Jacobson, Matrix PR CEO Hilmarie Hutchison, Shakespeare Communications CEO Ananda Shakespeare, Sticky Ginger Managing Partner Kiera Purdue and Tales & Heads Co-Founder Margaret Flanagan.
Together, they have developed a series of support activities that will be rolled out starting next month. The support includes bi-monthly workshops on cash flow management; legal support; building company culture and how to prepare for growth; a resource center for independent SMEs and consultants, which includes a list of recommended supplier contacts, and tailored tips and guides; quarterly digital drop-ins and networking events to discuss challenges and opportunities; industry partner discounts negotiated by MEPRA; an industry rate cards guide to assist with pricing and budget development; lobbying efforts to help assist with delayed payments; and special payment terms on MEPRA memberships and events.
“Small and medium independents and consultants are vital to our industry and its future. Supporting their specific needs and ensuring they have access to resources and tools they need is an important contribution to the economy,” said Midttun.
• 60 percent of respondents said clients don’t pay according to contract agreements
• Almost 90 percent of respondents said that they are challenged on price either at the pitch stage or by existing clients and that it is “untenable”
• Almost 40 percent of respondents say they hope to expand their businesses by 20 percent in terms of the number of employees