The communications sector constitutes an essential part of the Middle East economy. In the case of entrepreneurial destinations such as Dubai, a favourable public image is paramount to the global success of the city.

Communications is a vital component that underscores the strategic direction, public policy, operations, transparency, and reputation of any government or business entity, leader, campaign, brand, city or nation. Therefore, the ability to provide sound advice to senior management — whether in the public or private sector — has become a must-have skill.

The world of business has become more cluttered than ever before. As a result, business leaders face a fast-paced marketplace that is becoming increasingly sophisticated in nature. To keep up with change, a savvy communications approach is required, ensuring tactical counsel is treated as a central pillar across various stages of planning and implementation.

Yet, the region is short of communications talent that brings to the table more than just the typical skills. Acting increasingly as advisers to CEOs and enablers of positive change at the brand level, communications professionals should possess more than an in-depth understanding of the media landscape, knowledge of cultural differences, strong planning and writing skills.

Companies look for strong communications consultants who can offer constructive opinions and recommendations to senior management — a critical skill many professionals are missing.

Whether the aim is to provide strategic communications direction or advice on a set of corporate messages, presenting business leaders with pertinent, timely counsel will certainly contribute to enhancing corporate reputation, which in turn will lead to a competitive edge, customer retention, improved talent acquisition and a shield against potential reputational damage.

What this means is that repetitive and recycled messaging, promotional announcements and ad-hoc publicity stunts will no longer cut it. For brands to thrive and meet the demands of today’s business environment, they must adopt a more thoughtful approach to communications. They must embrace thought leadership, systematically spawning fresh, insightful and non-commercial content.

This is one of the key roles of the communications team. To empower business leaders by providing relevant ideas and topics, leading to a unique corporate positioning vis-a-vis the competition.

To maintain a leadership position in today’s saturated markets, companies must deliver a consistent stream of thought leadership material guided by reliable advisory from communications experts.

Undeniably, the natural evolution has necessitated constant communications readiness and fast response to trends to protect business interests, which are safeguarded by favourable corporate reputation. Readiness, however, is largely dependent on continuous advisory that aims at steering perceptions in the right direction.

Evolution has led to a larger number of brands and business leaders, enhanced brand narratives, better-crafted versions of campaigns and product offerings, more innovative ideas, and tougher rivalry.

So what does it take to win in this new world? It simply takes developing a unique set of differentiators that outshines the competition.

Owing to today’s focus on speciality, there is room for a brand and business leader to own an unrivalled market positioning and to be singled out by the spotlight.

The last piece of the puzzle is the availability of experienced communications professionals capable of working closely with business leaders to turn the desired differentiation into reality.

In light of this, it is imperative that business leaders actively consider advice from their communications teams. For all this to happen effectively, a healthy relationship reinforced by trust should be established between the two.

Bahaa Hamadi is a communications professional.