IIR Middle East sets date for annual Public Relations Congress

Kosta Petrov, Conference Director - IIR Middle East

IIR Middle East, a regional leader in facilitating skill development through professional conferences, announces the production of the sixth annual Middle East Public Relations Congress (a.k.a. PR Congress 2009) to be held from November 8-12 at Al Murooj Rotana Hotel in Dubai.

Supported by the Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) and in association with Dubai Media City, PR Congress 2009 will offer constructive discussions on media relations, crisis prevention and management, new media, sponsorship on a minimal budget, and corporate social responsibility. All of these topics will be covered in depth by carefully selected panels consisting of representatives from some of the world’s most respected companies.

With 176 industry participants last year, the annual event is the most powerful platform for the industry to discuss PR activities in these volatile economic times.  Given the unique challenges posed to the PR industry over the last 12 months, 80% of this year’s panels will be made up of new speakers.  This year’s conference will feature over 30 interactive discussions covering an array of PR-related topics, allowing participants to tailor their programme to specific areas of interest.

According to Mr. Kosta Petrov, Conference Director for IIR Middle East: “The international PR industry has undergone significant changes over the last year. In the GCC, there has actually been growth in certain areas as advertising budgets shift to PR-related activities. With companies like Yahoo!, Nielsen, and Google expanding their work in the GCC, there is also lot to discuss in terms of new PR tools, expanded research data, and an influx of international competition.”    

This year’s PR Congress programme is the result of extensive research with leading international experts and publications. All topics and discussions have been chosen in collaboration with conference partners and participants, catered to only the most contemporary industry challenges and trends. In addition to executive-led discussions, this year’s PR Congress will also organize one-on-one meetings between PR experts, and will offer half-day intensive clinics conducted by renowned branding experts.

“There is still a need for the development of the PR industry in the GCC,” says Mr. Petrov. “A recent MEPRA-funded study revealed that only about 31% of the Arabic-language press believes their needs are understood either ‘Very Well’ or ‘Fairly Well’ by PR practitioners, compared with 19% of the English-language press who feel the same.  Such numbers need to improve, and this is exactly what we hope to accomplish in this year’s conference.”

Key presentations from last year’s PR Congress include renowned speakers like Larry Weber, founder of Weber Shandwick, and Lord Bell, former press advisor to Margaret Thatcher. Mohammed Johmani, CEO of O2 Public Relations, the Headline Sponsor of PR Congress 2008, valued the Middle East PR industry at over $100 million in 2008, and that number was predicted to grow substantially by 2009. 
The discussion of such data will be revealed during this year’s conference, and an expanded list of speakers and topics will be publicized later this month as conference managers finalize the five-day agenda.