Mabrook! Dubai has won the honour of hosting the EXPO in 2020! It is truly a fantastic achievement and one that we should be rightfully proud of. But what are the implications of this major coup for the city’s public relations industry?
Hosting such an unprecedented event in the city will require a massive PR and communications effort before, during and after the event. PR strategies will need to follow a multi-pronged approach, with economic, social and cultural elements intertwined. These components need to be unique and tailor-made to Dubai’s success story, being formulated in such a manner that they give the city the optimum exposure it deserves. It is, after all, a relatively new city that has been tasked with hosting a long-standing, traditional event that has global importance.
In my opinion, the PR and communications efforts undertaken to promote Dubai’s EXPO bid were excellent. They undoubtedly played a significant role in influencing the bidding process. Now that the bidding is over, the next phase of PR needs to kick in. It is a unique responsibility and one that is unprecedented, as those involved have the lengthier timelines seen for any previous project in the city. Good luck to all those who will be working on a seven year campaign!
What does that mean for our clients?
The activities leading up to EXPO 2020 will most definitely, in one way or another, affect each and every one of our clients, regardless of the industry they are involved in. Perhaps the most pronounced impact will be on real estate and property, where prices are expected to rise exponentially, possibly leading to another boom. Communications and messaging will have to be very carefully identified and drafted so as not to mimic the situation of five years ago, when over optimism and exaggeration led to a fiasco that aided the 2008 economic downturn. For words to be believed, they need to be backed up by action. Similarly, for PR to be credible, it needs to go hand-in-hand with operations. There is no room for unthought-out words and misleading headlines.
I believe that there will be a positive outcome for Dubai’s PR industry as a result of the city winning the right to host EXPO 2020. Given the magnitude of the event and the involvement of so many international stakeholders, it may well develop into a more structured and possibly even regulated industry. It is also inevitable that it will expand exponentially, with the net result that there will be lots of job opportunities going for PR professionals. All I can say is that I’m extremely excited to be working in PR at this time!