LONDON: Newly formed communications advisory firm Salient, which launched in Riyadh earlier in the week, is committed to forming the next generation of Saudi industry leaders looking to pursue a career in the communications industry.
“Our fresh, innovative approach to communications is the perfect learning environment for nurturing Saudi talents to become global communications consultants,” Salient General Manager Osamah Al-Qusayer told Arab News.
The company, which was founded by industry veterans Andrew Borne and Sean Trainor, specializes in corporate reputation and organizational culture management and offers a range of services including mentoring, coaching, training and consultations.
Recent years have seen a surge in the growth of the communications sector in Saudi Arabia, with many international and boutique agencies, as well as local communications companies, entering the market.
But with this growth comes the challenge of a shortage of local Saudi talents, who often lack the experience and knowledge required for communications work.
The biggest challenge facing the communications market in Saudi Arabia is the search for talent, the pair explained.
“This is where our new agency comes in, with a unique approach to tackling this challenge and creating opportunities for local talents,” Trainor said.
Borne and Trainor, two former employees of public relations firm Hill and Knowlton Strategies, decided to start their own agency with the goal of empowering young Saudis with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the communications field.
However, after several years of working in the Kingdom, the pair realized that, while the Saudi market provided a large pool of young communications professionals to invest in, maintaining those talents presented a number of obstacles.
“After years of investment, many of these young talents often leave for higher paying jobs or are attracted by the idea of working for big international agencies like Hill and Knowlton, creating a vicious cycle,” Trainor explained.
Seeking to address the issue and turn challenges into opportunities, Salient aims to attract young Saudis by offering employees shares of the firm and a progressive company culture that values talents and allows them to tell their own stories.
“We see an opportunity to create a talent pool that would stay in the game, have skin in the game,” Trainor continued.
“We believe we can establish our own agency with a vision that Saudis can own and build and that focuses primarily on Saudi, and in the long term create a great brand that can stand on its own and service the local market, potentially exporting to the rest of the world.”
Borne and Trainor explained that Salient’s approach is guided by the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision. The country’s transformative moment provides an exciting chance for the industry to construct a narrative and enable Saudi organizations to tell their own stories and take the lead on the world stage, they said.
“Good, bad or indifferent, everybody has an opinion about the nation. And for a person in communications, that is a gift because there is nothing we like better than a good, honest discussion to really help people understand what is going on,” Borne explained.
“If you do not tell your story, somebody else will, and they will invariably get it wrong.”
The pair agreed that much international criticism of Saudi Arabia is generated by a lack of “true understanding” of the country, often caused by “big headlines and bad PR campaigns,” and stressed the importance of tackling the gap between perception and reality when it comes to the international reputation.
Borne and Trainor explained that Salient recognizes the importance of communications in bridging this gap and promoting a better understanding of the country and its people.
“By having locals tell their own story, they can help change the perceptions and attitudes toward Saudi Arabia,” Borne said.