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Strengthening ties abroad: lessons from Oman

Jason MacKenzie, president of the CIPR, communications consultant and strategist, guest blogs for CIPR International on the highlights of his recent trip to Oman.

Building ties internationally is a business imperative for the CIPR.

Jason MacKenzie in Oman
Jason MacKenzie in Oman

Last month I had the privilege of addressing almost 100 PR practitioners in Muscat, Oman, along with Dr Kevin Ruck and Ann Pilkington from the PR Academy. We led an interactive two-day session on internal communications, crisis management and the contemporary public relations arena.

Oman is a relatively small country, with a population of just over three and a half million. But the mindset of the PR practitioners is global. The first thing that struck me about those in attendance was their thirst for knowledge. Their desire to understand new ideas and learn how to put them into practice was inspiring.

In the session on modern PR, Ann Pilkington from PR Academy discussed content creation and curation. The concept of content curation was new to many of the delegates. Although a couple of attendees ran their own personal blogs, few were thinking about it from an organisational perspective. Native advertising was also a new concept for our delegates. In the crisis session, we looked at apologies, with case studies from Thomas Cook and Alton Towers prompting discussion. Few in the room had been in the position of having to manage a crisis but it was clearly a topic that was high on the agenda.

The enthusiasm for knowledge meant that the introduction to CIPR CPD was warmly received. Similarly, Dr Ruck’s presentation on employee engagement and internal communication went down well.

However, the learning wasn’t all one-way. We learnt that PR practitioners in Oman are tech-savvy. Mobile is widely used and the majority of those in attendance used Yammer in their organisations (despite experiencing similar issues to UK practitioners in driving organisation-wide adoption). Indeed, many of the challenges facing practitioners in Oman are similar to those in the UK and in countries where PR is perhaps more developed. In some ways, they have an advantage over us because PR and communication is a relatively new function. As a practice, it’s cultivating and establishing itself in a digital era and so is perfectly placed to meet today's communication challenges.

Meeting colleagues around the world is a reminder that we are part of a global PR community. Even in countries with completely different cultures, we share common challenges and opportunities.

Later this month, I’ll be heading to Munich for the European Communications Convention, for which the CIPR has been named Official Partner. I’ll be discussing Brexit and its impact on PR, along with CIPR Chief Executive, Alastair McCapra. Following Britain’s vote to leave the EU, it's never been more important for us to collaborate and connect with colleagues around the world.

About Oman

Capital: Muscat

Population: 3.5 million

Language: Arabic

Religion: Islam

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