Team TMN chat with Alex Malouf, Vice-Chair, MEPRA, to find out more about MEPRA’s newly launched academy, and the courses currently on offer…
Tell us a bit about the MEPRA Academy?
The MEPRA Academy is an initiative to bridge the skills gap in the Middle East region for the public relations and communications industries. We often had people working in the industry, or others who were looking to become communicators, approach us and ask what options there were for short courses that would help them to better understand certain areas of the industry, such as social media. To fill this gap, we decided to partner with several training providers and established trainers, both in the region and back in the United Kingdom, to establish the MEPRA Academy and offer a range of one-day courses that would meet the needs of professionals in our industry or those who want to know more about certain areas of our work.
Where did the concept originate?
We wanted to create an educational resource that would support our industry in this region and help PR and communications professionals, or those learning about our profession, to gain more theory and practice about skills that will allow them to either carry out their job or give them the ability to grow into new, up-and-coming communications roles such as public affairs and internal communications.
What kind of courses does the MEPRA Academy offer?
We offer one-day courses in public relations and communications essentials such as media relations, planning, measurement and evaluation, internal communications and employee engagement and social media. We also offer a two-day course in executive communications leadership for communications professionals who lead their own departments or are in a management role. The courses are delivered by trainers from the PR Academy who have worked with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and who have delivered training to Middle Eastern audiences beforehand.
Why did you decide that now was the right time to open the academy?
MEPRA has run training programmes beforehand, but we wanted to create a structured approach to training for our members and non-members in the region. One issue that the communications industry has long contended with is how to support the development of professionals in the region. There are few options out there in terms of training, especially considering how fast our profession is evolving. The courses offered through the Academy will continue to evolve, and our aim is to provide a platform where our members can support their own development and progress in their career.
Who is the Academy aimed at?
The Academy is aimed at anyone and everyone working in, or looking to enter, the public relations and communications industry across the Middle East region.
What kind of changes are you hoping to instigate?
We want communicators and public relations professionals to engage in continuous learning, we want to be able to support them in this process, and we want to be able to deliver an education to our members and non-members alike that we can guarantee in terms of quality. We also want to support the notion that communications should have a seat at the board, and in order to do that we need to ensure that we are working towards best practices in this region. We are running other educational and certain initiatives in the region, and we’re also look at rolling out other development programmes for our members in 2016 to support lifelong learning.
Why should established PR professionals register for the MEPRA Academy?
Our industry is always changing. As an example, who could have foreseen the disruption that digital or social media would have brought to what we do?
There’s so much happening that we cannot stop still, no matter how many years of experience one may have. Having said that, we do have a two-day workshop designed for those with several years of management experience. The two-day executive communications leadership course supports professionals with tools to better engage their senior management and build a more effective communications structure for their organisation…
What courses are upcoming?
We have a range of one-day courses being offered, focusing on several key areas. We’re continually asking our members for feedback on what courses they’d like to see, and where they’d like these courses to be held. The MEPRA Academy will continue to evolve to meet the needs of the PR industry in the region.
How do people secure a place on a MEPRA Academy course?
All they need to do is to go to www.mepra.org, and choose which course they’d like to attend.