In addition to all of the amazing things Rebecca and I got to see and do on our trip to Brazen’s Dubai office (see Rebecca’s top tips blog), we got to work alongside our super talented Brazen MENA colleagues for week.
The UAE office, headed up by Managing Partner, Louise, is made up of an accomplished team of experienced PRs, ex journos and only the UAE’s Young Communicator of the Year!? So naturally, we couldn’t wait to pick their brains and learn everything we could about PR sandpit style. It turns out, that whilst there are natural differences, there’s also a great amount of similarities too.
The lovely Basma, Brazen UAE Account Manager took Rebecca and I out for lunch on our first day in the office and we barely let the poor girl eat for questions! One topic that came up regularly was the ever changing and sadly, declining media landscape in both the UK and UAE. The UAE has seen a number of consumer titles close and jobs at English national newspapers cut over recent years, meaning that as in the UK, journalists are under ever increasing time pressures.
One interesting difference was that Dubai has a number of Arabic national titles which are funded by the government, and whilst they aren’t under the same cost pressures, relationships with such titles can be tricky due to their often old-fashioned views on PR – likening it to advertising and paid for opps.
We also caught up with the aforementioned Brazen UAE Account Director and Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) Young Communicator of the Year, Jennifer Love, to discuss the differences and how PRs can stay ahead in both the competitive UK and UAE markets.
With nine years of experience, Jen kicked off her PR career with luxury fashion in London, eventually moving to consumer and corporate in the UAE, and is celebrating three brilliant years at Brazen this summer.
Q: What is it about PR in the UAE that you enjoy the most?
A: The opportunities; working for incredible, world-renowned brands. I am proud to say that I am the Account Director across Brazen’s largest clients including The Walt Disney Company, Atlantis, The Palm and The Galleria.
Q: How/what could the UK learn from UAE PR/media relations?
A: Due to the challenges we face out here we have to be fast and flexible – our chemistry needs to be just right, so we can collaborate effectively together.
The UAE has an incredibly over saturated F&B market, which means that our thinking needs to be fresh and on trend in order to generate cut through – and we have to do this constantly!
Q: In what way do you see the industry changing here over the next 1-2 years?
A: The media landscape is going to continue declining (sadly), in the past few years the industry has seen a huge hit with the consumer looking to source news online and on social media. Traditional media have had to adapt with the times, and therefore their digital strategies will need to develop until they find the formula that works for them – online ads bombarding a beautiful piece of journalism is not what readers want to see.
For brands, they will need to invest in content creation and be reactive online understanding what their consumers want to see and what attracts them to spend. At the same time brands will become more tactical on social media; whether it is looking at audience content engagement on influencers to help promote awareness of their brand.
Q: As Young Communicator of the Year, what would your five tips be on for ensuring quality communication skills in PR?
- Fully understanding your client’s objectives and how through PR tactics you can achieve them with your team
- I’m very team oriented; I am present at the majority of our events and manage the consultancy workload closely
- Question what creates impact and how you can generate cut through for your clients – look at what the competition is doing
- Think how your content can live digitally, and can grab the audience’s attention – explore the options with your client and remember you are the expert, you are a consultant
- Read, read, read! In this fast-paced world of PR, it is paramount to always read the news and to keep abreast of industry topics, not just in your market but in others
As the media landscape and as a consequence, our role as PRs, continues to change we need to be as adaptable and quick thinking as ever. Rebecca and I left our Dubai colleagues feeling inspired and armed with tips to take on any new challenges the industry might throw at us, and I hope their wisdom makes you feel the same!
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