Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) hosted Qatar Media Industries Forum recently, which was moderated by NU-Q professor and sports media expert Craig LaMay, covered several areas in which Qatar has gained unique expertise in recent years.

Everette E Dennis, Dean and CEO of NU-Q, said:

The forum brings together individuals and representatives from news organisations, television stations, PR firms, advertising, and other media companies to speak together in one place about the many ways in which the media industry in Qatar has grown and developed. This pace cannot slow now as it gears up to welcome even more visitors, athletes and journalists.’

Nasser Al Khater, Assistant Secretary General, Tournament Affairs, at the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy noted:

There are several factors and layers to successful media strategies for such events. Crucially though, they must be relevant, authentic and reflect the host country’s aspirations for holding the mega-event in the first place. For example, our bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ highlighted the role that the tournament plays in supporting the Qatar National Vision 2030, particularly in relation to the diversification of the economy.’

Jackie Brock-Doyle OBE, Executive Director for Communications at IAAF, said that while host countries often focus on reacting to any negative coverage, it is also essential to proactively reach out to your core stakeholders and anyone in support of a mega-event, as they are your most important ambassadors. Any host country’s communication and media strategy should be a balancing act between listening to critiques but also reaching out to supporters, who are able to tell your story in a much more authentic and organic way.

The panel also emphasised the need to embrace the use of emerging new technologies in media strategies to ensure that messages are reaching as wide of an audience as possible, and ensure that organising committees are as accessible as possible. With panelist Nigel Rushman, Founder of Rushmans Consultancy, emphasising the need to have an active and engaged presence on social media in order to ensure that an organisation or event plays a role in shaping and controlling the story being told about it online.

In terms of the panel’s advice to local media on how to make the most of Qatar’s growing profile as a host of several international sporting events, most notably the upcoming 2019 World Athletics Championship and the 2022 World Cup, the panel noted that local media could benefit by expanding their readership potential given the global audiences such events attract.

The panel also highlighted the key role local media play in the social and economic development that go hand in hand with hosting mega-events and ensuring that they leave a lasting and positive legacy.