By Ahmad Itani, Chairman of PRCA MENA, Founder & CEO of Cicero & Bernay Communication Consultancy
Over the past two years, nothing had been discussed and redefined as passionately as the communication field through the looking glass of professional endeavors, concepts, and industry.
The reason is overemphasized at this point - in short, and despite all our experience and knowledge, a micro-organism once again proved capable to bring our progress to a dead stop, causing us to reflect on what is, what was, and where we can go. However, what it was not able to do, and can never do, is dim the fires of our will that, against all odds, allowed us to take a step back and consider our individual journeys.
Many would claim that post-pandemic trends were brought forth to set aside the glossy image of consumerism and capital gains that had prevailed over the past decade or more; that it was the hardship that encouraged brands to centralize the needs of people. Yet, the reality could not be farther from the truth. The human element has always been at the heart of all communication; the path towards it is what has consistently changed with every generation of thought.
Upon the multitude of meditations I committed to on the path forward for myself, my business, and the sector whose borders I operate within, I sought to identify the purpose behind this test that we were collectively undergoing. Yes, the effect of the pandemic was palpable, but the lesson is grander than us all and transcends personal experiences, anchored as they are to our individual existence and needs.
When I, fresh out of university and equipped with a deep understanding of consumer behavior, psychology, and marketing, was exposed to public relations in the eighties, I was instantaneously captivated. Free of the embellishments that accompanied the world of advertising, with an intrinsic emphasis on facts that speak for themselves, PR drew me in and encouraged me to share my voice and passion for the field with like-minded people. In 2005, when media spend reigned supreme and strategies consisted of nothing more than the budget allocation for media buying, I started Cicero & Bernay Public Relations with one client and a one-person department to generate press releases.
The intention was not to trace around the lines the industry had formulated but to think beyond and embrace the strengths of a multitude of sectors, consolidating them into our PR operations. After all, the sector is and will always represent the future of communication as it is the most credible of all the trades. Today, with the help of a full roster of industry professionals and experts who share my dream and vision of the medium, my journey is continuously evolving, and every year brings with it fulfillments that were planned for and others that occurred as an organic coming together of our plans and structures.
To say that I have been blessed with indelible support from my team would be an understatement; to say that everything we have accomplished thus far was predicted and intended would be untrue. Ours is a path of exploration that is as rewarding as it is challenging, and it is impossible to cumulate our collective hours, experiences, and accomplishments without highlighting the need to be committed to your vision and to withstand the challenges that you will face as you realize your dreams.
The communication industry is continuously evolving, and so should your methods and the science that you employ in your work. Of the many definitions The Oxford English Dictionary lists for communication, the one that stood out to me the most was "The successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings." As practitioners of this age-old craft, we would be forgiven to mistakenly restrict communication to the transference of data and information. Today, authenticity shared is rewards reaped. Yet, no matter how far you advance, never forget those who helped you get there and seek inspiration from them at all times.