Grayling Dubai welcomes Nicola Gregson

Global communications consultancy Grayling has appointed Nicola Gregson as Managing Director of its Dubai office. Nicola brings over 20 years of global PR experience, as well as her extensive industry knowledge, especially in relation to corporate communications, consumer, business-to-business as well as issues and crisis communications.

Having moved to the UAE from the UK in 2007, Nicola most recently worked as Managing Director (Middle East) for Ketchum Public Relations. She is also a board member of the Middle East Public Relations Association.

“As with most industry observers, I’ve been a huge admirer of Grayling’s growth across the Middle East region over the past two years,” says Nicola. “I’m very much looking forward to working with the team to build on the great work they have been doing and to continue to deliver world-class, client focused campaigns.”

New board members announced for MEPRA

The Middle East PR Association (MEPRA) has appointed its new board and leaders following the Annual General Meeting at Middlesex University, Knowledge Village, Dubai.

Brian Lott, Executive Director of Communications at Mubadala, is the organisation’s new Chair. Brian was previously Vice Chair under Nicola Gregson, who held the position since January 2014. Alex Malouf, who is Corporate Communications Manager in the Arabian Peninsula for Procter & Gamble, will become the organisation’s new Vice Chair. Board Secretary Thomas Ashby, from the strategic consulting agency Consulum, and Treasurer Mazen Nahawi, President of News Group International, will remain in their current roles.

“It’s never been a more exciting time to be a member of the Public Relations industry,” says Brian. “Communications is moving at the most rapid pace in recent memory. That is energising agencies, corporations, governments and public relations practitioners to be at the top of their game as the industry goes through massive change. MEPRA’s members are working hard to navigate this change, by hearing from outside experts as well as learning from each other.”

The new Board is structured around a number of initiatives for 2015, meant to advance the public relations agenda of its members.

MEPRA announces date for Annual General Meeting

The Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) has announced that it will hold its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on February 25, 2015 at Middlesex University in Knowledge Village, Dubai.

The agenda of the meeting will include all of the business transactions pertaining to the administrative functioning of MEPRA. The talking points will cover the key achievements of the industry body for the year of 2014, following with the strategy for the year of 2015. The board will also discuss the financial structure regarding the future activities for the year ahead.

The Chair of the MEPRA Board and Managing Director of Ketchum RAAD Middle East, Nicola Gregson, along with Brian Lott, Vice-Chair of MEPRA and Executive Director of Group Communication at Mubadala will go over prior activities and provide an overview of the upcoming events. Honorary Treasurer of MEPRA, Mazen Nahawi and President of News Group International, will be presenting the audited financial report and budget for the year 2015.

“We strongly encourage those involved in the PR industry throughout the region to attend this year’s meeting,” says Nicola Gregson, Chair of the MEPRA Board. “As an industry body we are committed to setting standards of excellence in the communication industry and providing platforms for members to come forth and present their views on past activities and contribute to the planning and action of future events as well.”

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KLCM findings announced

The findings of the third annual Ketchum Leadership Communications Monitor (KLCM) have been released. The global study polled 6,509 people in 13 countries for their views on effective leadership, effective communication and the link between the two.

Signalling the rise of a new ‘feminine’ model for leadership communication, the research found that female leaders globally came out comfortably ahead on all of the top-five most crucial traits for effective leadership. In the UAE, these global findings are mirrored in all cases except ‘leading by example’. Female leaders were voted higher in key leadership attributes; communicating in an open and transparent way (61% female leaders vs. 39% male leaders), bringing out the best in others (56% vs. 44%), and admitting mistakes (61% vs. 39%). The trend has not yet overturned the feeling that male leaders are better in a crisis with handling controversial issues or crises calmly (42% vs. 58%) in the UAE – showing a wider gap than the global average of 48% vs. 52%. However, and most likely due to the historical, political and cultural landscape in the UAE, 63% rate male leaders (higher than the global average of 54%) as most likely to navigate us through challenging times over the next five years.

“This is not to say that all future leaders should be women, and that men have no place in leadership,” says Rod Cartwright, Partner and Director, Ketchum’s Global Corporate and Public Affairs Practice. “Rather, our findings reveal vitally important lessons for leaders of both genders, as they continue to grapple with the ongoing leadership crisis.”

Nicola Gregson, Managing Director of Ketchum-Raad Middle East adds, “This research is finally putting to rest the flawed assumption that women need to come across as aggressive, vocal or dominant leaders to make their mark. Given that many perceive this region as having mainly male dominated leadership, it is interesting to see the UAE following a global trend citing the future of leadership communication as more ‘feminine’. We are seeing the birth and acceptance of a new model of leadership communication based on transparency, collaboration, genuine dialogue, clear values and the alignment of words and deeds; a model being followed far more consistently by female leaders.”

KLCM also indicates that the global leadership ‘crisis’ persists as consumers continue to be disillusioned with their leaders. Looking at leaders across sectors, only 22% of those surveyed feel leaders are demonstrating effective leadership – down from 25% last year. However, faith in business leaders is growing in the UAE, with 31% of responders (up from 28% in 2013) choosing business leaders as demonstrating the most effective leadership – higher than any other sector leaders. About half (45%) feel that business leaders are effective communicators, higher than the global average of 35%. In total, 88% of responders in the UAE have the same or more confidence in business leaders than in 2013.

Additionally, in line with global findings, 47% of responders in the UAE have named trustworthiness as the most important attribute for corporations, more so than financial strength (28%) and corporate social responsibility (27%).

Now in its third year, the KLCM study of 2014 has underlined the importance of the Good Leader Formula: Credible Leadership = Open Communication + Decisive Action + Personal Presence.

Nicola Gregson promoted to MEPRA Chairman

Nicola Gregson, Managing Director of Ketchum Raad – Middle East, has been elected as Chairman of MEPRA, the Middle East PR Association, following the AGM meeting last month. Having been a member of the board since 2009, Nicola was initially responsible for Measurement and Evaluation, and was promoted to Vice Chair two years ago.

“The PR industry in the MENA region continues to progress at an amazingly rapid rate – MEPRA’s role is to provide access to training, ensure governance and best practice, and be the voice for the profession so that we can continue to drive the region’s PR industry forwards,” says Nicola. “I am incredibly proud to be working with such strong Board members representing both international PR networks and regional agencies and global and national companies.”

Ketchum dominates Healthcare at MEPRA Awards

For the second consecutive year, Ketchum Raad dominated the healthcare sector at the Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) Awards held last night. The event recognised the Ketchum Raad ME team as Best Practice in Healthcare & Services for their partnership with AstraZeneca Gulf on the Safe@Heart campaign.

The campaign, targeted at Gulf Nationals who are at risk of heart disease, those who have been diagnosed with a heart condition or those who have had a heart attack, has resulted in over 5400 people taking part in heart health screenings and hundreds signing up for a 12 week programme that encourages them to make easy yet impactful changes in their daily habits to benefit their health.

“Healthcare is a packed space with a lot of important messages vying for an opportunity to be heard,” says Nicola Gregson, Managing Director Ketchum Raad Middle East. “Campaigns need to be intelligent, strategic and extremely well executed to capture the media’s attention and reach their target audience. I couldn’t be more proud of my team for their success with Safe@Heart. We are expanding our healthcare offering in 2014 and look forward to partnering with our existing and future clients to deliver even more impactful and effective communications across the sector.”

Abigail Dawson, Account Director and Regional Healthcare Lead at Ketchum Raad Middle East added, “This is the second year in a row we have received the Best Practice Healthcare and Services award and we are truly proud to be taking it home again. Projects like Safe@Heart are the reason we are in communications. As a healthcare team, we are genuinely passionate about working with our clients to help them achieve their business goals as well as communicate with patients and customers and empower them to change their lives positively.”