Christina Maroudias, Bulldozer Group, Group PR & Communications Manager offers her thoughts on the PR industry in the Middle East.
The main purpose of writing in PR is to gain positive exposure for its clients or brands, and to send their news to the general public. This makes up a huge part of the PR service, including the craft and development of press releases, pitches, opinion pieces, features, blog posts, and digital content.
In PR, good writing can be measured on its ability to attract attention, engage audiences, and effectively portray brand messages. In a persuasive business where the majority of communication is written, how well messages are delivered are paramount to their success. Writing is an invaluable part of the PR industry, so why is it often overlooked?
In Dubai, an 80% expatriate population has inevitably led to a few language barriers and altercations when it comes to the written word, but there’s no reason for this to continue. In fact, the international audience and reach opportunity should give us even more reason to make our brands sound as good as possible.
As writing is a skill, it can be easily enhanced or improved through regular practice and by paying attention to detail. Here are my top-tips for creating clear, concise copy that resonates.
- Ready, Set, Research
Before starting any written work, it pays to do a little research. If you have a new venue opening, product launch or celebrity sighting, make sure you know what else is going on in the industry, and how your news will affect it. Try to ensure there are no obvious clashes with news stories, so that your announcement has maximum impact.
When it comes to bylines, advertorial copy and blog posts, researching the topic before you put pen to paper, will provide you with a greater understanding of the subject matter, appropriate vocabulary and invaluable insights. Now, with the rise of digital media and AI, research has become easier than ever with information available at the touch of your fingers, or even at the sound of your voice. (Siri? Alexa? The girls are there to help.)
Social media can help assess how popular your particular topic is; online articles and a good old-fashioned Google search will build an understanding of popular opinions, and; if your research skills are top-notch, you will also be able to find scholarly reports and statistics to build your case.
- Authenticity is key
In such a dynamic market, nothing speaks louder than authenticity. This goes for us as individuals, our written work, and most importantly for our brands. Embracing transparency through all parts of communication is becoming increasingly important in today’s industry.
Stay true to the brand, find the factors that make it stand out, and focus on the most compelling parts. By putting ourselves in the readers shoes, we can focus on their interests and needs, which helps create concise and engaging copy. In the long run, clear and direct communication can really boost a brands reputation, creating a reliable and trustworthy reputation.
- Style means everything, as does tone
Not limited to your wardrobe, your writing style and tone should be adapted to reflect each individual brand you write for. Every brand, be it a restaurant or dating app, must find its own voice, a tone that matches its personality and the services it provides. For example, a premium dining restaurant will most likely sound a little more reserved and refined than a food-truck, in order to reach and relate to the right audience.
This is arguably the most important aspect of writing for PR. Editors and journalists have a duty to write in a style that suits their reader and publication, whereas PR practitioners must change their writing style per brand or client, in order to portray them in the most efficient and appealing way. Although subtle, the language style, vocabulary, tense and tone used throughout each PR material shapes the identity of the brand, and keeping this aligned is intrinsic to its success.
- Proof, proof, proof
PR is by no means a leisurely job, but even with pressing deadlines and multiple projects, it is so important to proofread your work. I have seen a shocking number of seemingly small typos and grammar mistakes throughout my career. I’ve made a few too, but I’ve learned from them. Sadly though, it really does look careless and leaves an unprofessional impression. Make sure you’ve read through a printed copy of your work before sending it out, read the text out loud to help with sentence structure, and if you really don’t have time, ask a colleague to help.
Proofreading also gives you the opportunity to evaluate and improve your work. When you’ve been writing for hours it’s easy to get stuck on the same vocabulary – try to mix it up a little. I’m not ashamed to say that Thesaurus.com is one of my most used websites, and I love a good spell-check.
Ultimately, taking the time to practice and develop excellent writing skills can enrich the offering of PR agencies and in-house communications teams across the region, and enhance the reputation and proficiency of the PR industry in the Middle East.
Integrated communications agency, House of Comms has appointed David O’Sullivan to the role of Head of Digital. With over 15 years of experience in digital strategy and transformation for brands such as The Kraft Heinz Company, Mercedes Benz, Emirates Group, NBC Universal, LG Electronics and Marks & Spencer. In his new role, he will drive strategic and creative data-driven technology solutions to broader business problems.
“The team at House of Comms is dedicated and passionate about the work they do, and I am really glad to be part of the family,” says David. “It’s amazing to see a traditionally comms-focused agency move heavily into the data and tech arena as this is exactly where the market is moving. The need for businesses to gel and refine experiences across the board, almost always through technology with web, app, social, e-marketing, digital media, tech-based experiential and digital content, is crucial and absolutely central to most brand/product strategies.”
Jamie Wilks, Managing Partner, continues, “We’re buzzing to have David on board as we enter a new era for House of Comms. We’ve been building web, app and creative tech solutions for years of course but now we can elevate our offering further as tech becomes an essential consideration for all comms strategies, product design, customer experiences and effective employee engagement.”
Vogue Arabia has appointed Ravi Raman to the role of Associate Publisher. With over 20 years of experience in content strategy, revenue generation and brand marketing, he has previously worked with Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East and The Telegraph and most recently worked with Khaleej Times where he held the role of Senior Vice President. In his new role, he will deliver influential content and brand experience for readers.
“I am excited to join such an iconic brand and an immensely talented team,” says Ravi. “Within a short span the premium portfolio of Vogue Arabia, Pop Sugar and other experiential platforms have been established as the strongest voice in the region. In an increasingly connected world, readers are getting extremely choosy about where they spend their time.”
Dubai-based boutique agency, Aurora The Agency has been appointed to represent Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts in the UAE. The Maldivian hotel group offers a beach holiday experience to its visitors and aims to gain awareness in the region. Aurora The Agency will handle all PR communications across the group’s properties and engage with relevant target audiences.
“We are extremely proud to be working with Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts,” says Iona Al Suwaidi, Co-Founder and Director, Aurora The Agency. “This is an exciting addition to our lifestyle portfolio, and we are confident that this is the beginning of a long-term successful relationship. We feel that there are many synergies between our brands, being committed to providing only the best in class experience to our customers.”
Dubai-based marketing and PR agency, TishTash has been appointed to represent Sukin in the UAE. Launched in 2007 in Australia, the environmentally sustainable skincare brand provides essential oils and botanicals and aims to gain awareness in the region. TishTash will implement the brand’s regional PR strategy including influencer engagement.
“Our passion for all things beauty is well known, as is our love for eco, ethical and kind brands, so we’re incredibly excited to work with such an innovative brand that endorses these philosophies,” says Natasha Hatherall-Shawe, Founder and Managing Director, TishTash.
Broadcast PR specialists, markettiers4dc Group of Companies has appointed Leanne Foy to the role of Group Marketing Manager. Bringing a wealth of knowledge from across the region, Leanne most recently worked with PRCA MENA where she held the role of General Manager. In her new role, Leanne will be tasked with creating synergies between the companies and bringing a renewed focus on marketing to the global network.
“I am very much looking forward to starting at markettiers in a brand new group-wide international role,” says Leanne. “Over the past four years, the company has grown from strength to strength in the region and I am thrilled to be working with the team to take markettiers to new heights globally. ”
Cheryl King, markettiers’ MENA Managing Director continues, “We’re very excited to welcome Leanne on board in her group-wide role that will see her support the business across the network. Leanne has had a phenomenal few years in the region since launching PRCA MENA, and has built up a fantastic network and knowledge of the communications industry that is recognised by everyone who meets her. We’re really looking forward to supporting Leanne’s ambitions in her next chapter, as we continue to grow and evangelise the power of broadcast both in the region and wider.”
TishTash Tots, part of TishTash marketing and PR agency, has been appointed to represent Five Little Ducks in the UAE. Located in Town Centre Jumeirah, Five Little Ducks is a chain of premium baby boutiques providing a variety of baby brands including Sleepyhead, Little Unicorn and Stokke. TishTash Tots will handle all PR activities and integrated marketing solutions to connect brands and businesses.
“For us, Five Little Ducks is the dream addition to our TishTash Tots portfolio,” says Polly Williams, Head of TishTash Tots. “They offer mums and families a truly unique and personalised shopping experience in the most beautiful setting. Stocking some of the best baby brands available, they also house a seriously comprehensive collection of the top car seats and strollers and offer an amazing gifting and personalisation service, unlike any I’ve seen in the region. Five Little Ducks is a welcome additional to the TishTash Tots family and we are very excited to be working with them.”