PR in the region is not ‘up to scratch’

The quality of PR is a major concern in the Middle East, the ITP forum was told.

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By  Tim Burrowes Published  September 25, 2005

The quality of PR is a major concern in the Middle East, the ITP forum was told. Panellist Dave Robinson, regional director of Gulf Hill & Knowlton, set out what he saw as the main problems: “Poor quality of writing, lack of understanding of what the press needs, unwillingness to feed back to clients about what they really need. “It’s more common in this market for stupid, useless information to be put out, and then be used,” he said. ITP’s editor-in-chief Rob Corder told the conference: “Three-quarters of the media — and that’s being generous — is simply paid to fill pages. “They are not doing it for their readers, they are just filling space.” Robinson added: “That’s why there are so many shitty press releases.” He said a big part of the problem was the failure of clients to listen to the advice they were being given. “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it think. In many cases we take a request to clients and we endorse it and offer to help. But that does not mean they will say yes,” said Robinson. But Sadri Barrage, boss of Headline PR and chairman of the Middle East PR Association, claimed that member agencies that weren’t up to scratch would be dealt with —and he invited journalists to report them. He said: “If you visit the website of MEPRA and can substantiate your complaint then we will take the necessary action.” Meanwhile, Eddie O’Sullivan, editorial director of the Middle East Economic Digest, claimed another problem was of questionable relationships between journalists and PR people. He said: “There’s an unhealthy culture of gift giving. Let’s look at ourselves.”

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