Chairman of Chime Communications insists that reputation
‘depends on what you do, not just what you say’
Dubai, UAE; March 14, 2012: A successful communications strategy cannot operate in a vacuum but must be supported by sound policy decisions, Lord Tim Bell, Chairman of Chime Communications (Bell Pottinger), told delegates today at the 20th Public Relations World Congress, which is taking place in Dubai through March 15, 2012. “Reputation,” Lord Bell told the more than 450 delegates, “depends on what you do, not just what you say.”
In his keynote address ahead of a panel discussion on ‘Public Relations in an Age of Dialogue: Challenges & Opportunities,’ Lord Bell acknowledged that some of his firm’s clients are controversial. However, he argued that “everybody has the right to representation.”
Lord Bell emphasised that when any client – whether a government or private-sector firm – “gives assurances that they are ready to make changes to their policies or behaviour, then we are ready to work with them in repairing their reputations.”
Underscoring that “how well we conduct our business is what matters,” Lord Bell said there is sometimes a fine line between Public Relations and propaganda. “Practice good PR, no matter how difficult the circumstances, and you will be OK,” he said. “Practice propaganda and you deserve what you get.”
Following his keynote address, Lord Bell joined a high-profile panel discussion, which included Dr. Herbert Heitmann, Executive Vice President, External Communications, Royal Dutch Shell; Daniel Tisch, Chair, Global Alliance for Public Relations & Communication Management; Khalid Al Maeena, Editor-at-Large, Arab News; and Prema Sagar, Founder President, Public Relations Consultants Association of India.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and in partnership with the National Media Council of the UAE, the Public Relations World Congress is organised by the International Public Relations Association – Gulf Chapter (IPRA-GC).
Additional speakers at the Congress include Malaysia’s former Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the opposition People’s Justice Party, Anwar Ibrahim; the Founder Chairman of Burson-Marsteller, Harold Burson; former head of Al Jazeera and co-founder of the Sharq Forum, Wadah Khanfar; General Manager of Al Arabiya TV, Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed; Roger Fisk, who played a key ‘behind the scenes role’ in the election of US President Barack Obama; and many others.
Key sponsors of the Congress include Saudi Aramco and Saudi Basic Industry Corporation (SABIC), which have signed up as headline Strategic Partners. Emirates is serving as the Official Airline of the Congress, while CNN and Al Arabiya TV are the International Broadcast Partners. Dubai Media City is Industry Partner of the Congress. Bates PanGulf is the Design & Advertising Partner; ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller is the Marketing & PR Partner; and Media Watch is the Media Intelligence Partner.
A biennial event, the last Public Relations World Congress was held in 2010 in Lima, Peru, and attended by industry representatives from 39 countries, while the 2008 Public Relations World Congress was held in Beijing, China. In both instances, the event brought significant media and industry attention to the host country, with the world's foremost communications professionals and media experts attending the sessions. The first Congress was held in Brussels, Belgium, in 1955.