PR Agencies in Dubai

The growth of the PR industry in Dubai in the last ten years has been very strong with numerous new agencies being established every quarter by enthusiastic Public Relations professionals. Some establish roots while others close shop as their owners, mostly expatriates, relocate to greener pastures.

And how has this growth contributed to the evolution of the regional PR industry?

There is a general consensus among companies that it is better to recruit a PR agency in Dubai and let them oversee the communications process in the entire Middle East region. This is because of the concentration of the best talent in Dubai. Most agencies who may have offices or affiliates in the region still make the strategic plans from Dubai.

And then there is of course the spillover effect. Most people in the region travel to Dubai frequently which makes it strategic for brands to have visibility in the UAE. This will help them as they expand into other markets as the general awareness would already be established by then.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that every new announcement needs to be localized for each GCC market. This is something international companies have difficulty grasping. They look at GCC and Levant as one market and think that a press release issued in Dubai can be duplicated in other markets and it will generate the same response. This does not work. It is important to identify a local angle for all your stories to ensure maximum interest across markets.

As Dubai continues its preparations for Expo 2020, we expect the regional PR and media landscape to evolve further.

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Building your relationship with your suppliers

The way you communicate with your suppliers and external agencies like Advertising and PR agencies, tell a lot about your company and its values. Every company should have a strategy and training programme in place to ensure communication with their suppliers is at all times respectful. All conflicts should be resolved without resorting to personal accusations and rude behaviour. PR is not just about getting coverage in the media, it also extends to your relationships with everyone who comes in contact with your brand. Your employees should not think that because they oversee the contractual terms with suppliers, they are in the dominant position and can exploit it with unreasonable demands and rude behavior.
This why suppliers are important to your business:
1. They deliver quality work which reflects on your brand and generates brand loyalty and new business
2. They are influential people in their own industries and can be your brand ambassador
3. They can give you a competitive edge by preferential rates and better quality work
4. Suppliers can make major contribution to innovation in your company through their creative ideas
5. If you are a considerate and loyal customer, the supplier may help you with better credit terms and even recommend you to potential customers.

Bottom line is it pays to be polite, honest and considerate towards others at all times!

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PR services in Dubai

The PR industry in Dubai and the region has a lot more supplementary services available than was the case ten years ago. There are media list services you can subscribe to, there are even editorial opportunities services that have been recently launched. These services are very useful for the region’s SME companies who would like to keep their PR activities in-house before they can afford to hire a PR agency. Though it is more advisable to hire an agency, with services like these and a bit of training, SMEs can test the water before taking the plunge.

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Perspectives on a city’s crisis preparedness

How does an international city keep its head over water if a PR crisis strikes that affects its reputation? A thought that crossed our mind as Dubai was in the international spotlight over whether a certain lady on her business trip to Dubai was unfairly sentenced over her claim of what went wrong during an evening of drunken booze.

While international media was quick to blame the country over what it deemed as outdated laws and infringement of human rights, the local media took a few days to give a step by step account of why she really was sentenced. It turned out that she had retracted her initial claim and also her behaviour leading up to the crime defied logic which clearly impacted her sentencing.

Why wasn’t Dubai’s side of the story explained in a more swift manner? Couldn’t that have mitigated the backlash and wrongful one sided reporting by international media and the entire internet screaming ‘bigoted’ and ‘unsafe’ and so on?

It is challenging when scandals affect public trust in your city. Reputation management of a city is not easy, and it involves anticipating the worst, planning for it and executing a plan during the darkest hours.

So what exactly is the best crisis PR plan for a city?

First of all consider these important questions:

• What happened?
• How did it happen?
• What is its current effect?
• What is our position on this event?
• Are there political, economic or international aspects to this problem?
• What internal and external resources should we gather to address this crisis?
• How will the situation evolve and what can be done to keep it from getting worse?
• Who is the primary spokesperson?

The next phase should involve putting a plan together:

• What messages do we want to deliver?
• How do we get the messages out?
• Is current media coverage or public commentary accurate?
• How do we change inaccurate perceptions of the city’s role in the crisis?
• How will we demonstrate that this won’t happen again?

What do you think of this article? Do you have a crisis plan in place for your organization?

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An Intern’s perspective of working in an Agency

Here is what our intern Swaleha Calafato has to say about working in a PR agency in Dubai:

It’s interesting – when you’re a student taking notes in class, listening to your professor meticulously dictate important PR theories, tactics, strategies etc., you tend to think you’ve got it all down. It can’t be that hard, right? Wrong. You show up for Day 1 of your internship and realize applying theory into practice is not all that easy – that text books don’t teach you everything. There is no single correct way of doing things.

It’s been two weeks, but apart from getting a hands-on experience of how a PR agency actually functions, and insight into how to establish and maintain good relationships with one’s clients, I’ve also realized that I’ve picked the correct career path for myself. Having been introduced to a spectrum of clients from an extensive array of sectors, such as education, luxury products, technology and so on, I have developed a comprehensive understanding of how to tackle various situations and clientele needs. Understanding client expectations is imperative to meeting client needs and materializing a good PR plan for their firm. Direct contact with clients and engaging one on one with the media has enabled me to come out of my shell and develop essential PR and marketing skills.

Developing proposals for clients as well as executing PR and social media strategies for current and potential clients has increased my business acumen and allowed me to gain real-world knowledge and know-how of the practical requirements in the field of PR. PR requires ongoing media monitoring and identification of prospective media and coverage opportunities, as well as extensive follow ups to make sure the job is done, and done as needed. I have learned that a simple email is not enough to secure coverage, but regular contact with the media is crucial. Building good relationships with editors and journalists requires interpersonal skills, a deep understanding of the job of media professionals, and how relevant the coverage is to them.

Initially, when I had to pitch, I was apprehensive and unsure about how I would handle it but it has now become a one of my favorite tasks at work. It’s a great feeling, picking up the phone and being able to secure coverage. With each successful pitch, there is an increase in one’s confidence level and abilities. What university courses don’t teach you are how different businesses operate in real life and the importance for a PR professional to grasp their key strengths, objectives and needs. Without this knowledge, it is next to impossible to successfully merge a firm’s business strategies with effective PR strategies. One of the most important things I’ve learned is to communicate succinctly and yet get the message across to fulfill its purpose. It is vital to be up to date about the market sectors you’re dealing with and its associated issues and emerging trends. Consistent research and preparation has boosted my creative side as well as my future planning skills.

It’s incredible to see that all of this has been learnt in just a span of two weeks – I look forward to what the remaining four weeks have in store for me!

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Localisation in social media

Localisation is incredibly important when trying to engage your local clients through Facebook, twitter or any of the social media tools you use even though you are a global brand. One of our clients for whom we manage the Facebook page has seen a dramatic increase in the number of regional followers once we started translating Facebook posts to Arabic. There is more customer interaction and the number of comments and postings by fans have increased. One way to localise is to link your products and services to local events and make the postings more relevant and interesting. It is also important to be culturally sensitive. In a multicultural society like that of Dubai or other GCC cities it is also important to acknowledge the important events of various communities as there is a strong expatriate community here.

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PR impressions

It was interesting to talk to an ex-journalist other day who kept saying how he can never be a PR person because he does not have a slavish mentality! As a professional PR person with oodles of experience it was quite shocking to listen to his impression of PR people in the region as those who beg for coverage and manage to get coverage solely on the basis of ‘gifts’. He even spoke of PR professionals who charge clients per clip and that is his understanding of PR. It took me a while to explain to him that PR is not just about a clip, its about the messaging, the impression, the image; its not about the number of ‘hits’. It wasn’t so long ago that PR staff tracked the number of “clips” to show the client how successful their PR work was and it was the easiest metric to use to indicate success. But the Internet changed what clients now expect. If all you do today is count clips, maybe your job will get clipped.
PR is a respectful profession and I hope the odd ones here and there do not taint this amazing profession. Either you love it or get out of it, don’t give it a bad name!

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Business efficiency

It was interesting to attend a Business Forum in Dubai last week organised by IMD, a global business school based in Switzerland. One of the takeaways from the session was how much lack of business efficiency can adversely impact a country’s competitiveness. This was in the context of UAE’s ranking in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2011. Though the country ranks at a high of 4 in government efficiency it lags behind in business efficiency which has pulled its ranking to 28 out of 59 countries.

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What new skills should PR hopefuls have?

In the changing world of communications- thanks to social media- a pertinent question arises as to what are the qualifications to look for when hiring new PR practitioners. Recent studies show that there is an increasing emphasis on social media skills. This also extends to a broader understanding of marketing communications as social media is integrated into various functions including sales, customer service, marketing etc. Oodles of creativity, marketing, website designing and SEO experience are a plus point for prospective PR candidates, especially those who have a passion for digital PR.

Basic Digital skills a PR pro should have are:

1. Analytical ability and knowledge of media monitoring tools to capture what is being said on twitter, facebook etc

2. Creative ways to create a community online, not just a group to post client news. Interactive competitions, games and polls are part of the game

3. Steer away from just content to visuals, videos and podcasts and have an understanding how the audio visual medium influences brand perceptions

4. A basic knowledge of SEO – how to optimize images, videos, keywords and text so that the brand has a higher chance of turning up in searches

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Future of luxury marketing

We were very happy when a friend sent us a link to ‘world’s top 10 most luxury brands 2010′. It was interesting to note who won the top slot and who were close to winning. Louis Vuitton is at the top which was great news for the LV fans amongst us but not so for the ones who have sworn eternal allegiance to Chanel!

Below is a link to a video on the future characteristics of luxury brands by Cindy Gallup. She sees them as being ‘elitist, empathetic, immediate,social and youthful’. we totally agree!
Marking characteristics of future luxury brands

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