x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Look, listen and learn for a payoff

Executives expect public relations and digital media to grow this year.

The public relations and digital-media sectors are expected to grow this year.

Guy Taylor, the chief executive of the PR company Grayling in the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, has high hopes for the Qatari market.

"In Qatar, our business this year will double in size," he said. "Qatar has a huge commitment to developing not just infrastructure-related projects, but also entities and organisations."

Sunil John, the chief executive of Asda'a Burson-Marsteller, is also expecting digital media to perform strongly as brands look to reach out to Arab youths. The National asked Mr John about his expectations for the media industry as a whole.

How did the Middle East media industry perform in 2011?

It was a tough year for all disciplines within communications. But probably the [hardest] hit were advertising and media-buying companies. Generally, I would think they would be down by at least 25 to 30 per cent. In that scenario, PR - and probably digital companies as well - have grown, albeit in single digits.

What is your expectation for this year?

My feeling is that 2012 will be a tough year for the communications industry. I think the uncertainty leading from the Arab Spring continues to plague a lot of governments and businesses.

The traditional communications disciplines of advertising and media buying will continue to be stretched. But I feel that this is the opportunity for PR and especially digital offerings to grow.

Why should PR and digital media outperform the rest of the industry?

More and more clients are learning to understand the value of listening and dialogue. And if you look at all of the other disciplines, PR is probably the best to be able to help companies at the very top level to change the way they work. [The growth in] digital is because the biggest challenge is how you reach out to the largest demographic in the region, which is the young.

bflanagan@thenational.ae

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