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Sun 26 Jun 2005 04:00 AM

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GHK loses Nakheel PR role for the Middle East

Gulf Hill & Knowlton (GHK) has been stripped of its retained PR agreement with Nakheel to service the company’s communication requirements in the Middle East.

Gulf Hill & Knowlton (GHK) has been stripped of its retained PR agreement with Nakheel to service the company’s communication requirements in the Middle East.

Its rival, Orient Planet, has been given an expanded regional role following the shake-up by senior management at Nakheel .

GHK will continue to work for the property giant by carrying out its international PR, but on a project-by-project basis.

Simon Horgan, vice president of marketing at Nakheel, has also brought some of its PR functions in-house and expanded his communications team after recognising the organisation needed to “generate” more of its own news.

Referring to GHK, Horgan said: “I have recognised where its strengths are — and its strengths are international. We want to take advantage of that.”

He said the relationship between the two companies was still strong and the separation of responsibilities that has taken place over the last weeks has been amicable.

“Our relationship is good and our adjustment was cordial. I have nothing negative to say about Gulf Hill & Knowlton. I am just adjusting my position.”

Dave Robinson, regional director at GHK, admitted the agency was disappointed to lose the PR business.

“In an ideal world we would have kept our retained business and worked on the international projects.

“But it is not an ideal world. We have lost one part of Nakheel’s business, but are working on another part of the business. Things could be a lot worse,” he said.

The agency boss added that, since the changes had been implemented, the focus of operations had become “a lot clearer than it might have been in the past”.

Orient Planet, which worked alongside GHK in providing regional PR services to Nakheel before the changes, has taken on an expanded role and will now cover the GCC region as well as focusing more attention on Nakheel’s Arabic requirements.

“Both Gulf Hill & Knowlton and Orient Planet were handling some projects and that didn’t work very well. I thought it was better to clarify the position,” he Horgan.

“We have increased our in-house capacity to generate news. I wanted to improve our ability to create news ourselves. I have recruited an extra three people and increased the capacity of Orient Planet.”

A spokesperson from Orient Planet was unavailable for comment. Gulf Hill & Knowlton will now provide Nakheel with targeted PR support in countries outside the region.

Nakheel has been reviewing its entire marketing and communication strategy in recent weeks. Two months ago it decided to stop using outdoor advertising in the UAE to promote the company’s corporate identity, turning its attention to attracting potential property buyers rather than increasing brand awareness.

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