Rival PR group launched

A new industry body for the region’s PR sector has been launched in an attempt to offer an alternative to the Middle East Public Relations Association, Campaign can reveal.

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By  Steve Wrelton Published  April 30, 2006

A new industry body for the region’s PR sector has been launched in an attempt to offer an alternative to the Middle East Public Relations Association, Campaign can reveal. Called the Arabian Business Communicators Association, the body has been set up to fill what its founders perceive to be a gap in the industry for a self-regulatory and educational body. The chairman of the ABCA is Cem Arikoler, regional director for the Middle East of PR firm Promax. Speaking to Campaign, Arikoler criticised MEPRA for failing to deliver on training initiatives and accused the association — which is currently putting together a guide for PR staff rates — of trying to create a price cartel. “ABCA has been formed because there is a clear need for a regional body in the PR industry,” Arikoler said. “We believe that agency owners have had their chance for the last six years to come up with training and skills development, which they failed to do. “ABCA won’t accept organisational membership and will be an organisation for practitioners of PR, public affairs and corporate communications in the region. We don’t want to repeat the mistakes so far, that even employees of MEPRA member firms don’t know what MEPRA is.” The ABCA claims that it has already got 74 members, including PR executives, corporate communication managers, government officials and academics from across the region. Membership will be on an individual basis and fees will be dependent on a member’s place of work and level of income. The ABCA says that it will organise educational activities and training courses in order to raise industry standards. Sadri Barrage, MEPRA chairman and boss of Headline PR in Dubai, said that he welcomed the formation of any body that sought to carry out serious initiatives on behalf of the industry. “It remains to be seen how structured they are and what their code of ethics will be, but we hope that they will help us and hopefully we can work together,” said Barrage. Asked whether MEPRA was creating a price cartel Barrage said: “Of course we’re not. It is a price guide — it is not binding.” Barrage also defended MEPRA’s training programmes, adding they would offer more activities once a GM had been recruited.

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