The Challenge

Beginning in 2012, APCO was retained by the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (Masdar Institute) to deliver communications support for the Public Affairs department in the following areas:

  • Establish robust connections with local media to increase the number and quality of interviews and press releases
  • Develop relationships with faculty, staff and students to encourage media participation and more readily connect media opportunities with spokespeople
  • Provide press release distribution and clipping reporting services
  • Provide ‘Arabization’ support – a level beyond simple line-for-line translation – particularly for press releases

In December 2014, the Masdar Institute sought additional support from APCO in the following areas:

  • Leadership of their 11-person communications team
  • Developing proactive communications initiatives, particularly in the digital arena
  • Streamline and improve standard, repeating communications activities
  • A focus on international media exposure
  • Increase in prominence in regional media
  • Strengthen capacity for executive reporting, both planned and ad-hoc
  • Increased presence on social media

The Solution

Beginning in 2012, APCO seconded a two-person communication team to Masdar Institute’s communications office. This team, comprising a media relations and an Arabization professional, worked alongside the existing communications team to develop a media relations expertise and capacity within the Institute.

APCO also provided regional press release distribution and clipping reports, greatly enhancing the Institute’s reach.

In 2014, I was hired to lead the Masdar Institute communications department into a new era. Under my leadership, the 11 person communications department underwent a rapid transformation.

We united the team under a common goal: to strengthen the quality of its content. As an enabler for the team to achieve this goal, I developed an entirely new set of policies and procedures and introduced more efficient team collaboration platforms and tools.

The team benefitted from additional time for new, proactive activities due to more strategic and organized leadership. Among these activities was the Masdar Institute News Website, launched in November 2015 to host the new research-oriented content being produced by the newly formed editorial team.

In May 2015, we added a full-time social media expert, who boosted the reach of every social media channel at the Institute.

APCO Increased its leadership of the Institute’s media interviews, which involved more thorough preparation of senior spokespeople for broadcast and print media interviews.

Moreover, the new APCO team established new relationships with regional and international media – securing interviews on global communications channels.

The team also developed new regular, monthly reports for the Public Affairs office to share with executive leadership. It also established new project databases and content management systems to more rapidly develop ad-hoc reports for executive management as needed, as they often were.

The APCO team also paved the way for new types of communication by leading and organizing larger, high-impact launch and announcement events – both alongside anchor events and as stand-alone launches located alongside purpose-built venues at new research centers in the Masdar City. This was something that the Institute hadn’t previously accomplished.

The team also established regular collaborative ties with other, interlinked stakeholder entities including Masdar Corporate, Mubadala, IRENA, and several others.

The Result

In 2015 alone, we secured over 160 interview with nearly every major local media outlet, a significant portion of regional outlets and internationals outlets including BBC, CNN, Discovery Channel Magazine, Time Magazine, Sky News, AP, and AFP. During this time, the team also led the launch of several new projects, including the Masdar Institute Solar Platform in Masdar City.

During 2015, the team produced and dispatched 81 Press Releases, generating a 61% increase in ad-value over the previous year.

Also in 2015, the APCO team led the development and launch of the Masdar Institute News Website and Newsletter – and the regular and consistent publishing of high-quality original content in each.

The new team is far more capable of leading proactive communications efforts and responding quickly to unexpected requirements and changes on the ground. The team is organized, strategic and flexible. The team has managed to not only significantly increase traditional metrics (such as ad-value) but also, more significantly, introduced new digital channels of communications, strengthened social media presence, greatly increased the quantity and quality of content produced (both press releases and new, web-only content), and strengthened their delivery of high-impact media relations activity.