Brndstr launches Innbx

Dubai-based tech start-up Brndstr has launched Innbx, a new mobile application, developed for creative agencies to manage and monitor several Instagram accounts and hash tags as part of social media campaigns. Innbx is a free application developed to enhance the way brands engage with users on Instagram, allowing people to manage multiple accounts, to categorise followers in to groups and to save social content directly to mobile phones. Innbx was unveiled at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York City.

“With the launch of Innbx, companies will now have an opportunity to take their marketing campaigns to the next level,” says Simon Hudson, CEO and Founder, Brndstr. “As posted content continues to grow, we believe users will find the ability to group content extremely useful.”


Grayling Dubai welcomes Nicola Gregson

Global communications consultancy Grayling has appointed Nicola Gregson as Managing Director of its Dubai office. Nicola brings over 20 years of global PR experience, as well as her extensive industry knowledge, especially in relation to corporate communications, consumer, business-to-business as well as issues and crisis communications.

Having moved to the UAE from the UK in 2007, Nicola most recently worked as Managing Director (Middle East) for Ketchum Public Relations. She is also a board member of the Middle East Public Relations Association.

“As with most industry observers, I’ve been a huge admirer of Grayling’s growth across the Middle East region over the past two years,” says Nicola. “I’m very much looking forward to working with the team to build on the great work they have been doing and to continue to deliver world-class, client focused campaigns.”

Should social media be an extension of your job title?

With social media becoming an ever-important corporate tool, should employees be conscious of their personal profiles and portraying a positive image on behalf of the company – or is this considered beyond the call of duty?

YES, says Laura Pardoe, Partner, Grow Digital Services

LauraPardoe“An employee’s social media page could potentially lead to a better job opportunity elsewhere, making it in their interest to keep a clean, professional profile at all times”

Should social media should act as an extension of your job title? Absolutely – especially if you work in a predominantly client-facing role. People trust their peers, and a negative personal post from a social media page could affect this and reflect badly on a company/employers image. In business, it is imperative that customers are made to feel completely looked after and at ease, so that they can trust a company completely.

I am a firm believer in acting responsibly on social media, posting only relevant content to the corresponding platforms. For example, content relating to socialising is not relevant to LinkedIn given that it is a business platform, so here particularly employees should act responsibly and focus more on content for the business industry.

Living in a Muslim country especially, social media can have a negative effect on a company’s reputation – if an employee is seen drinking alcohol, for example, or participating in political debates. Despite the individual having their own views, an observer of such behavior on a social media platform may in fact associate the employee with the company they work for. In this way, employees essentially act as brand ambassadors on social media, and should update their profiles accordingly – similar to wearing appropriate attire to work; social media pages should be respectable. Imagine a client of a company stumbling across an unsuitable comment on an employees social media page? That could result in a potential loss of business, and people will always relate negative experiences to others ten times over.

An employee has the option to turn their profile settings to private to ensure that their personal life does not conflict with their professional one, and this should be an important and common practice, as many people research one another online before meeting in person.

Another important factor to consider is that talent scouts often browse social media for new candidates for employment. This means that an employee’s social media page could potentially lead to a better job opportunity elsewhere, making it in their interest to keep a clean, professional profile at all times.

Smart and intelligent posts on social media will only act in an employees favour. For example, speaking about something meaningful or inspirational can have a positive effect on others by increasing the trust or respect. Clients will feel more at ease and in the right hands when they can see that a company’s employees are honest and respectable, and not representing themselves entirely differently online to how they act professionally. It is essential that a company has a policy to ensure that unhappy employees do not flaunt their complaints on social media, and that there should be an open HR initiative to maintain honest communication at all times.

NO, says Melwyn Abraham, PR and Social Media Manager at Matrix PR

MelwynAbraham“Employees should be able to build their own individual identity without having to follow the company brand culture”

Today, most businesses – as an integral part of their marketing and PR strategy – have invested in making their brand appear social through various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They not only share the ‘what’s new and trending’ but also present a human side of the business through their employees and behind the scenes images and posts.

The reason social media has managed such deep penetration is because it affords the users space and a profile to voice and share their individual opinions, thoughts, emotions and life with friends, family and the public, if desired.

Do people represent their companies through their social media profiles? Maybe. But should social media be an extension of a person’s job title? Surely not. And here is why…

It’s Personal. Someone’s personal profile is exactly what the name suggests – a personal profile. What makes it personal and genuine is that one is not paid to post anything on it and others trust the opinions and thoughts shared to be the private views of the individual. The moment you take away the genuinity of a person’s profile and turn him into a company spokesperson, his profile loses its credibility.

A person is not defined by his job title or the profession he is in. So if I want to post updates about my trip to the dentist and how I think my dentist needs a dentist himself, I should be able to do so without hesitation.

I agree that companies do run the risk that a section of its target audience may judge them by the social media profiles of their employees. But companies can also protect their brand image by issuing guidelines to the employees with regards to content that they can post on their social profiles regarding said company, or prevent employees from posting anything about the company at all. Companies must not ask employees to use their personal profiles as a marketing tool. Such measures can even break office hierarchy and relationships, moving focus away from real roles and responsibilities. The bottom line benefits maybe big but they cannot come at a cost of losing credibility.

Social media must not be allowed to become the bell to Pavlov’s dog. True and honest feedback of people’s experiences with the brands they interact with will only help brands become better and understand their audience better. If every personal profile were to become a marketing platform the social media system itself would collapse.

Employees should be able to build their own individual identity without having to follow the company brand culture. Employers can gain increased leverage over employees and their social media accounts, which can even extend to their friends and families. Educating employees to exercise common sense by sharing tips and guidelines about using social media is more important.

We are after all, what we share.

The fundamentals of strategy are always the same

 “A company without a communication strategy is like a ship without a compass”

In an age where demonstrating results of PR campaigns and the ROI of communication spend is increasingly important, I am still amazed when I come across an organisation that is running full-speed with little or no communication strategy, project plan or activity calendar in place. Inside such organisations, panic sets in whenever the C-Suite demands a press release (often the demand is not newsworthy), when a journalist requests an interview, or product managers demand an awareness campaign.

A company without a communication strategy is like a ship without a compass – meaning that the communication will only ever be ad-hoc, a waste of time AND resources, and at best reactive. Reporting on the success of the communication programme without a proper strategy is impossible, and at best can only deliver a coverage report stacked full of clippings.

Fortunately for those who have yet to put a communication strategy in place, the fundamentals of strategy are the same regardless of what industry, type of communication (PR, investor relations, employee communication), or the medium you think you should be using. In a nutshell, communication strategy must cover at a minimum: research, objectives, approach, tools/tactics, resources/budgets and evaluation.

The real power of a communication strategy is identifying how it fits into the bigger organisational picture – how it supports the overall objectives, such as reputational, business growth etc. This is the big picture question that asks ‘what is the point?’.

When building a communication strategy, the first step is to completely understand the reason communication is needed. Is it to support a business plan, an individual project, or activity? You need to ask ‘what is the point?’ before going down the road of building your strategy.

Strategy is more than the glue that holds tactics together; it provides direction and rationale for everything that we do in communications. Without it, we would stumble aimlessly through a darkened business forest and can be successfully challenged and undermined at every step by one simple question: why?

The Gourmet hub of Dubs

When Team TMN stumbled across a certain venue in the heart of Media City promising home-style gourmet grub at purse friendly prices, we were powerless to resist…

What: 1762 The Gourmet Deli Co.

Where: OMD Building, Dubai Media City, Dubai

When: Sunday-Thursday, 7.30am-6pm

The promise: “You will find our deli shops rustic, warm and homely; somewhere you know you can escape to when you get a moment to pop in and relax over some good food & freshly made brew”

Nestled in the heart of one of Dubai’s busiest business hubs, 1762 is only a stones throw away from most of Dubai’s media companies. A seamless blend of two settings – one, a cosy indoors with exposed brickwork and intimate tables, the other a relaxing, open-aired, conservatory-style room (which avoids the oppressive summer heat with a retractable roof, that closes to create one large, indoor space). Making the most of the last great weather of the season, we opted for the conservatory. Surrounded by greenery and the low-rise buildings of Media City with a glass of fresh pink lemonade in hand, you could easily imagine that you were in New York or London.

Having passed the deli counter as we walked in, tummies were definitely rumbling as we got settled – seeing the food presented in such a tantalising way was a real feast for the eyes. We left our ordering in the capable hands of the venue’s Outlet Manager, Charlotte who decided to showcase some of 1762’s more popular dishes from the extensive menu of delicious-looking deli food.

We began with 1762’s signature dish, traditional, home-cooked roast beef wrapped in a delicious Yorkshire pudding; truly comfort food at its finest! Who knew a Yorkshire pudding could be used instead of humble wrap-bread? Another stand-out dish was the chicken and leek pie – a traditional recipe which managed to provide the perfect blend of chicken, leeks and cream. In contrast to the comforting, carb-laden traditional foods sampled, was the wonderfully light ginger-lime salmon nori roll, which triumphed as team TMN’s favourite dish on the menu. On top of all these mains, we also sampled a selection of the deli counter’s eight salads – freshly prepared daily.

Even filled to the brim, we were informed that we simply had to sample some of the desserts, and who were we to argue? Happy to hang around, we noticed just how busy 1762 gets. Having arrived bang-on midday, there was a steady influx of human traffic, with the queue edging outside – a sign of success if ever there was one.

After sampling the decadent millionaire’s shortbread and twix brownies and the lighter, but equally delectable Tunisian orange cake slices, we finally left, stomachs groaning and in unanimous agreement of a lunch hour well spent.

The verdict : This is definitely a venue worth getting out of the office for, whether for lunch or just a quick bite to go. 1762 caters perfectly to Dubai’s professional crowd. With affordable prices and excellent-quality food, 1762’s three venues (also in DIFC and The Galleries, Jebel Ali) have definitely found their niche. Our only critique is that their opening times are reflective of business hours, and we would love to get a hold of the menu for dinner and brunch! While this may be a possibility at some point, for now at least, it’s remaining the business community’s little secret!

Leo Burnett wins at ADC Awards

Leo Burnett was the most awarded agency at the 94th Art Directors Club (ADC) of New York Awards in Miami last night. The agency won a total of 32 awards including: The Tomorrow Award, The Designism Cube, 10 Silver, two Bronze and six Merit awards for its work from its global network of offices. Notably, Leo Burnett won the Network of the Year award, with Leo Burnett Dubai being named Agency of the Year, making it the first agency in the MENA region to have claimed the honour.

Leo Burnett Dubai was also presented with the prestigious Black Cube for Advertising, the best in show award, for it’s ‘Two for one’ campaign for du in the United Arab Emirates, headed up by Saad Yusuf, Group Communication Director, Leo Burnett, Dubai. This was the first time in the awards’ 94-year history that an agency from the region won the award, presented to entries in the Design, Digital and Advertising categories at the discretion of an unanimous jury.

“The ADC awards not only represent a great achievement for us but also represents many ‘firsts’ for us” says Saad. “The UAE’s first home-grown creative campaign, ‘du Tuesday’s’ global recognition over the past two years at international awards shows is reflective of a maturing UAE creative industry. These accolades couldn’t have been possible without the partnership of du, Ali Ali, Maged Nassar, DejaVu and our team at Leo Burnett Dubai.”

Valleywood Dubai 2015

With the first-ever Valleywood Dubai taking place on May 14, Team TMN caught up with Dimitri Papadimitriou, Head of LiquidThread MENA, the content division of Starcom MediaVest Group and organisers of Valleywood Dubai, to find out what we can expect from the event…

What is the concept behind Valleywood Dubai 2015?
The concept was born out of the ever-merging and converging worlds of Silicon Valley and Hollywood – hence the name Valleywood. By this, we mean that the way content is created and distributed has changed and the entertainment, technology and content creation arenas can no longer work nor grow separately; Valleywood Dubai looks at the confluence and complementarity of these worlds. TV and branded content producers are not only determining entertainment and technology trends, but also, constantly monitoring and measuring consumer habits to anticipate and create the content that consumers will find relevant. Today, they have at their disposal the technology that will help them with precision marketing and addressable content creation.

Valleywood already takes place in LA and London. Why bring the event to Dubai?
Valleywood Los Angeles and London enjoyed massive success. The decision to bring this experience to Dubai was only the next logical step. Dubai is in a unique position in that it sits at the intersection of global trendsetting and regional powerhouses. Bringing Valleywood to this city next was a natural step. The region has a lot to offer and explore and we are looking at Valleywood Dubai as a platform that will connect our clients and partners with both regional and global content creators, broadcasters, established and emerging tech players, startups, investors and publishers.

What will be unique about Valleywood Dubai 2015, compared to its global counterparts?
Valleywood is the first-of-its-kind conference anywhere in the world, so it already sets itself aside from other counterparts. What will be unique about the MENA edition is the local perspective that it will take. There will be international participants as the technology and entertainment worlds are increasingly global, but there will also be a strong focus on the local content scene.

Do you have any plans for ways to follow up from Valleywood Dubai 2015?
Valleywood is meant to challenge attendees to go beyond the boundaries of traditional thinking and explore avenues inside and outside of their industry for a new age of storytelling and precision marketing. That in itself will open new doors for collaboration between players that have, conventionally, stayed apart. We are expecting Valleywood Dubai to be the conversation starter between these players, even more so in light of LiquidThread unveiling its new capabilities and solutions – centering on addressable media and data-driven content. That’s how we’re hoping to build on Valleywood going forward.

 Do you feel that the industry in MENA should be doing more to use tech and content creators for new forms of brand storytelling?
The region’s content creators have been doing great work in and around storytelling – just look at the Peeta Planet series. What we could see more of are the tech partnerships helping propel those stories, as well as other partnerships and collaboration between brands, agencies, content producers, startups and publishers. That’s the very premise on which we’re holding Valleywood.

 Do you feel the content creating world is changing in MENA?
Yes, and this is driven by the maturing of the content market. It started out a few years ago with small groups of people making cool stuff to watch, and that have now evolved into proper content producers – and into fully-fledged entertainment companies, in some cases. If you look at the likes of Sa7i, Telfaz11 and UTURN, they have become increasingly structured in their content production by working with agencies and clients to create world-class work. And now, they are also tapping into tech tools that will hone this content structure. It is a very interesting success model to explore in our business.

Could you tell us more about who we can expect to see at Valleywood Dubai 2015?
You should expect to see a diversified lineup of international and regional players in the entertainment, content creation, entrepreneurship, tech and publishing industries. The likes of Google, Facebook, Vice, Fremantle Media, UTurn Entertainment and Endemol will be taking part.

What can we expect to take away from Valleywood Dubai2015?
We want attendees to leave with a look into the future of content and technology and to be inspired by what they have seen. They will draw on the expertise and learnings of industry veterans, experts and emerging talents who are creating and scaling content that is personal and relevant to people. We also hope that Valleywood starts a broader conversation around content and tech.


Nicola Monteath joins HOT Media

HOT Media has welcomed Nicola Monteath as Editor for Better Homes magazine. Nicola joins from CPI Media Group, where she was Assistant Editor at BBC Good Food ME magazine, writing on topics like nutrition, travel, décor and home entertaining. She has also been working on her own newly-launched online culinary channel, SimplifyTV.

Her new role as Editor at Better Homes will involve covering home décor and news from the design and interiors industry. Nicola will also be writing features for Dubai Sotheby’s International Realty in Residence magazine.

“It’s an honour to join an esteemed publication such as Better Homes magazine, which has already built up a great reputation in the market over the years,” says Nicola. “I’m extremely excited about taking on this new challenge.”

Saffron magazine signs new society columnist

Jawahar Chhoda has been appointed as a society columnist for newly launched bi-weekly magazine, Saffron. With over 14 years experience in journalism, Jawahar has worked across many titles in the region, including Masala, TeleLife and Gulf Gourmet, as well as appearing as a guest speaker on many radio shows including GN Broadcasting. In addition, Jawahar has worked as a freelance PR consultant where he specialises in comprising guest lists for high-profile events.

For his new column, Jawahar will focus on members of Dubai’s high society, covering private parties, events and prominent society members.