Katch International Appoints Engagement Director

Communications agency Katch International has appointed Vix Machin to the role of Engagement Director. With over ten years of experience in PR, events and marketing within the MENA region as well as Europe, Vix has worked with local and international brands including Lionsgate Films UK, StudioCanal, Burj Al Arab and Shangri-La Abu Dhabi. In her new role, she will work across a number of accounts, head up the PR team and work hand in hand with the company’s founder, Georgie Woollams.

“We’re very excited to have Vix on board at Katch as she brings both local and international experience to head up the PR team,” says Georgie Woollams, Founder and Managing Director, Katch International. “Vix has a great reputation amongst her piers and continues to grow as a valued member of the communications landscape in the UAE.”

Vix adds “Katch has an excellent reputation in both Dubai and London. The team is responsible for so many success stories in the UAE and I’m so happy to now be a part of it. Katch works across so many sectors from consultation to events to digital and design as well as communications and I’m very eager to grow my experience across them all.”

Mindshare appoints new Deputy Managing Director

Global media agency network, Mindshare UAE has promoted Zahi Lawand to the role of Deputy Managing Director. Previously Senior Director of Client Leadership for Mindshare since 2007, Zahi specialises in client leadership and has contributed to campaigns for the agency that have won across key industry events such as the MENA Cristal Awards, the Effie Awards and the Lynx Awards. In his new role as Deputy Managing Director, he will be responsible for helping both regional and international clients make collaborative and adaptive decisions using his previous experience in the agency.

“It’s definitely an interesting time to be a part of media and communications, as the tides keep shifting in this industry and you always need to rethink and adapt to the new norm,” says Zahi. “Personally, I am looking forward to the new role, as it’s an opportunity for me to play a central role within the Mindshare team and to deliver excellence in all that we do.”

Ravi Rao, CEO, Mindshare MENA, adds “Zahi has shown great client relationship skills backed by his deep desire to understand client`s business challenges and provide winning strategy and ideas. He is digitally savvy and sound in marketing and a full-fledged team player that makes him perfect to take this new mantle in Mindshare Dubai.”

Ben Westwood joins FlipFlop Media

FlipFlop Media has welcomed Ben Westwood to the role of Sales Manager for its Terminal Operator title. Having relocated to Dubai from the UK in 2013, Ben most recently worked as Sales Manager for Holborn Assets Dubai where he maintained excellent relationships with clients by providing sound financial advice. In his new role, he will be using his strong background in financial services and client relations to oversee the new business development of Terminal Operator as well as other titles in the FlipFlop Media portfolio.

“I am excited to be joining the energetic FlipFlop Media team, especially to be working on such an interesting title like Terminal Operator,” says Ben. “This opportunity is a great way for me to really dig into new areas and use my strengths while still developing in such an intense industry.”

In The Hot Seat – Helen Farmer

The Mothership’s Founder Helen Farmer tells TMN her views on the UAE’s ever-changing media landscape, offers advice to others looking to start blogging and talks about how she sees blogging evolving in the Middle East…

Name: Helen Farmer

Age: 33

From: Northumberland, UK

Current Job Title: I’m the Founder of parenting blog The Mothership (themothershipdxb.com), as well as a freelance Writer, Editor and Radio Presenter.

When did you first arrive in Dubai?January 2007

Where did you work prior?In the UK I was in broadcasting, print and PR before moving to Dubai to work for Explorer Publishing as a Writer and Deputy Editor of their guide books. I then went to Motivate Publishing as Deputy Editor of What’s On, before launching and editing good magazine which I’ve now being doing since 2013.

What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?How nice everyone was. When I arrived it was even more social than it is now, with a lot of people from both media and PR going out almost every night.

Has your opinion changed much?
It has matured a lot on both sides, with fewer fresh graduates and more experienced talent. Now with cool, home grown titles, international magazines and bigger agencies, we’re starting to see more collaborations rather than the standard press release model, which is great. And the UAE is finally starting to catch up with digital.

Is blogging your full time job or a part time passion?
A bit of both! It’s a part time job, but a full time passion.

Tell us about your blog…
I started The Mothership last year, when my daughter was six months old. I simply wanted to connect with other new mums, through honest, real posts about the good, bad and downright mind-blowing truths of parenting in the UAE. I fear I might have put some women off pregnancy…

The Mothership then grew to become a Facebook page and recently I had the website rebranded and redesigned to make it more user-friendly, as well as having the capacity to include reviews, news and recommendations.

I now work with brands that I admire, have held workshops to support other working mums and have built a great community.

What’s the most rewarding part of blogging?
When another mum comments saying “Yes! Me too! Thank you.” Motherhood can be really lonely at times and I truly appreciate that moment of realisation and connection, when my followers share their own similar experiences.

Which international Bloggers inspire you?
I love Joanna Goddard from Cup of Jo, who mixes stylish inspiration with normal living and Sarah Turner from The Unmumsy Mum, who made it acceptable for mothers to admit that parenting isn’t always cuddles and candyfloss – it’s frustrating and often very messy.

What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a blog? 
Write from your heart and don’t try to be someone you’re not. I’m more high street than high fashion, couldn’t offer makeup tips to save my life and definitely shouldn’t be sharing recipes, but people understand what I’m really about. Start writing and you’ll find your tribe.

Do you accept press material from PRs?
After being in magazines in the UAE for more than six years I’m on a few press lists! I’ll always check out something relevant, but am more responsive when a PR gets in touch with a personalised suggestion for collaboration.

How would you rather be contacted?
I prefer email, and can be reached at Helen@themothershipdxb.com

Describe yourself in five words…
Working mum. A bit tired.

What’s your most overused saying?
“Have you heard about that new… ?”

Five things you can’t live without?
Family, phone, giant CamelBak water bottle, BBC television and the beach.

How do you see online journalism/blogging changing in the UAE in the coming years?
If bloggers are monetising a site or social feed, there needs to be some form of regulation in terms of sharing their numbers and data. This is so new for the UAE, that some people (no names) mislead potential clients and it can have a negative effect on those who are more transparent.

What would be the next step for you as a blogger?
I’m planning to hold further events and workshops after the summer, as well as continue to work with more brands that are in line with my values and really benefit my followers.

Y&R Amman selected for 2016 Act Responsible Exhibition

Jordanian-based communications group Y&R Amman has been selected for the 2016 Act Responsibly Exhibition during Cannes Lions for its work “Smokey Sperms” for the Tobacco Free Jordan campaign. Established in 1995, the agency is a member of MENACOM Group Jordan and it has worked to address the relation between smoking and fertility issues prevalent in the male population in Jordan. The Act Responsible Exhibition showcases the best campaigns for good causes, charities, institutions, foundations, corporations or brands as a round up of the work created around the world between 2015 and 2016.

“We are so proud that we made this,” says Emad Khayyat, Creative Director, Y&R Amman. “It is important that Jordanian advertising has entered the biggest stage in the world and has done so for a good cause, with the aim to actually make a difference.”

BR Communications joins PR World Network

BR Communications, a PR consultancy operating in the Middle East, has signed with Lou Hammond’s PR World Network. Lou Hammond & Associates is a North American communications agency, founded in 1984 has offices in New York, Miami, Charleston SC and Los Angeles. The world network was founded in 2009 and consists of 21 PR companies offering services in over 50 countries, who will pool their competencies in their respective parts of the world to offer members of the network an expanded reach beyond national and regional borders as needed.

“We already have a Middle East regional reach and can now offer our clients global services regardless of geographic location,” says Bahaa Fatairy, Managing Director and Founder, BR Communications.