In-house or outsource? That is the question.

Alex Ionides, Managing Director, Silx offers his thoughts on the content marketing and how outsourcing can be beneficial.


In reality, some projects are going to be better off in-house, some better off at an agency. The real challenge is deciding which will garner the best results in the long run – both in terms of cost and effectiveness.

Recently, the Association of National Advertisers reported that 78% of its members now have an in-house team, compared with 58% in 2013. The primary driver for this increase was a desire to save money.

But from my experience moving projects in-house often doesn’t work out to be as cost-effective as we hope.

In fact, done right, it’s the outsourced projects that actually end up saving money.

Here’s why.

Marketing is becoming too fragmented to be handled in-house

It’s increasingly unrealistic to expect one team to be the jack-of-all-trades. Take digital marketing as an example. You have website and experience (UX) designers, programmers, content developers, social media marketers, digital advertisers and search engine optimisers. It’s not feasible for one team to do them all at the highest level.

This isn’t just my view, but that of the industry as whole.

A 2017 survey by the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing found the industry is moving away from all-purpose marketing. One third of responders expected their teams to become more specialised, versus just 3% who thought they would be more generalised.

Specialist agencies give you everything you need

Agencies already have the talent and knowledge in place. You don’t have to deal with all the HR, hiring, and overheads required to fill increasingly fragmented roles. You gain instant access to all the experts you need.

In-house teams struggle to stay up-to-date

Beyond cost, a second argument made for taking work in-house is that this will foster a better understating of the brand. This may well be true. But does it foster a better understand of marketing? Tactics, trends, concepts – is the in-house team at the cutting edge when it comes to what is currently working well and what is not?

Content marketing is a great example here. Sure, the concept has been around for decades, even centuries. Benjamin Franklin was a (very) early adopter. But only in the last few years has its potential started to be realised.

The Content Marketing Institute didn’t even exist until 2007. A decade later and it’s collected enough data to show just how things are changing. Let’s take one example: In 2013, just 38% of business to business (B2B) marketers used infographics. In 2018, this had shot up to 65%.

Outsourcing lets you stay ahead of the game

Keeping the skills and knowledge required to stay on-trend can be expensive and time consuming. Even more so if you’re trying to do everything. The more you struggle to keep up, the more things spiral, the more costly it gets.

Specialist agencies have training in place to make sure everyone is up-to-date. In fact, the very best ones will be setting the trends, not following them.

In-house marketing eats away at time and creativity

Sure, sometimes the great idea just pops into your head during the drive home. But most creative thinking takes time, something a lot of in-house departments don’t have.

You actually have less, not more, control over the time of your in-house team. This is because everyone in the company wants to use them for every little thing. Their easy access becomes a problem, rather than the advantage it should be.

Outsourcing will give you freedom

By outsourcing you save yourself time. You can concentrate your efforts on leading the company with the right strategy and tactics, rather than getting caught up in the day-to-day intricacies of marketing campaigns.

Back in 2002, a longitudinal study of creativity and time pressures was undertaken on 177 people over 30 weeks by Harvard University. It found that time pressures severely hindered our cognitive processes related to creative thinking.

Great creativity will cut costs down the line. Your campaign gets the desired results, so you don’t have to spend more money trying something different.

Going in-house doesn’t necessarily mean you get a better ROI

Some people take marketing in-house because it’s easier to track the work done by employees and get a handle on the return of investment (ROI).

In the past this was probably true. But the digital revolution has swiftly changed not just how we work, and how we keep track of the work done.

Agency spend can be easily justified

There are now a huge range of digital metrics that can be used to monitor agency effectiveness. You can ask to see timesheets for a start. And you can monitor weekly website traffic, searches, referrals, and click-throughs.

Analysing this data will give you a very accurate feel for just how much work your agency is doing and how effective it is. This way you will be able to measure ROI and justify your spending.


Want to advertise? Check out the weather, please!

Waseem Yakdi, CEO, Zia Creative Network offers his thoughts on the advertising industry and how the seasonal changes impact campaigns.

Despite the fact that the onset of summers in the UAE brings distress to most businesses, which in turn adversely affects advertising industry, the marketers turn their heads towards finding ways to reach out to their target audience even during the slack season.

In the UAE, the advertising industry looks darker under the sun

 If you are planning to run advertising campaigns for your brand in summer, you must give it a second thought since the weather in the UAE can have a notable influence on your target audience’s behaviour. There is no doubt that the onset of summer visibly slows down general activity in the UAE, but the same also applies to advertising. Apparently, there are quite a few obvious reasons why sweltering summer days of the UAE make advertising go sluggish.

The summer vacation mood

“I’m sorry, but this is going to take a while since my boss is away on vacation and there is nothing in our hands that we can do until he returns.” Do these words sound familiar to you? They should. They’re spoken every summer in the UAE.un

During summers, the heat is on, and the vacation days pile up. The scorching heat of the UAE and planned summer vacations often affect the advertising industry of the region. Most of the residents and expats plan their annual leave during summers, while others remain less motivated over the summer months. For the same reasons, people here count the days for their annual leave but the vacation period isn’t all about fun and family. The mass exodus that occurs with the arrival of summers cause a considerable meltdown in the marketing budgets of the companies.

The reasons seem to be quite evident with the absence of audience during this period. From print media to broadcast and OOH, the whole advertising industry witness a remarkable freeze during summers.

When it comes to holidays, the UAE offers twice the global average and with that comes twice the slowdown, and twice the impact. Is escaping the heat worth the cost?

Summers make people lazy 

The warm months of the UAE undoubtedly make us all relaxed, cheery, and hideously unproductive. The manner of how customers purchase products are affected by changes in the weather too. During summers, people would normally want to stay indoors to avoid the extremely hot sun. In such circumstances, the brands become reluctant to spend on advertising campaigns as it would be a futile effort.

Despite all this, the only advertising platform which is lesser affected by the summer skirmish is digital marketing. Social media advertising is a powerful tool to legitimise communications and contextualise ads during summers. The brands and agencies get on their toes to bombard the entire digital advertising ecosystem through offers, ads and engaging content during summers.

Consumer mood swings during summers 

Although it may not be glaringly apparent to us, weather influences overall consumer buying behaviours along with the advertising trends.

Weather in the UAE has a deep-rooted effect on consumer psychology and purchase behaviour. Aware of the impact of summers on consumer’s purchasing behaviour, most of the marketers in the UAE implement a weather-responsive marketing campaign to deliver much more targeted and impactful promotions.

During summers the brands and advertising agencies are in a run to engage consumers with a plethora of diverse advertising campaigns, mostly on digital platforms, with personalised and customised content since the consumers are usually indoors and witness a lot of mood swings due to summer heat.


The reason behind withstanding the long summer slowdown is always the anticipation of the extremely busy winter season, both for the businesses and advertising agencies. Winters bring limitless opportunities for the brands and the agencies, as it’s during winters that most of the events take place. There are offers and discounts on almost all the products during winters and it is the time when people throng attractions like Dubai Shopping Festival and Global Village for shopping and hanging out in the pleasant weather.

The months from September to March are undeniably the most packed months for the agencies since the pile-up of the campaigns and projects during summers gets activated during winters as both the brands and agencies try their best to catch up with the loss incurred during summers. With deadlines set in stone, an environment of high-pressure is created in the agencies during winters and the employees are forced to work for long hours.

However, despite the volatile nature of the UAE’s advertising industry, the profit margins during the short winter season drastically exceeds the loss figures in the balance sheet obtained during the long summer season and this has considerably encouraged the brands and marketers to stick their feet in the UAE’s ad market.


Getting the message across: Effective writing for PR

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 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.

Cracking great content in Dubai

Richard Boullemier, Producer, First and Ten Productions offers his thoughts on the content creation industry in the Middle East.

“The need to feed your social media platforms, market your business or product and keep fans and consumers coming back for more is vital for a successful business.”

Creating content is a lot like going to brunch. (Stay with me on this).

There are tonnes of brunches to choose from in the UAE. Some cheap and some, not so cheap. But ultimately, if you want a champagne product with a great experience, you get what your pay for.

Content has become the buzz word in marketing speak across the GCC, and with good reason. The need to feed your social media platforms, market your business or product and keep fans and consumers coming back for more is vital for a successful business.

Despite being an established production company, our daily battle revolves around clients claiming they have someone that will do it cheaper. Followed by the inevitable line… “Can you match this quote?”.

This used to make us question our prices, but quality content comes at a premium. “Pay cheap, pay twice” is a good rule of thumb. A lesson we have learned as a company is that if you don’t stick to your guns, you will end up working harder for less because you are too professional to hand-over a video that is not up to your usual standard.

If you want your brand to be heard in a competitive market, it’s important to invest in yourself.

My advice for forward-thinking business owners is to focus on the amount of deliverables that you can produce with the content, rather than looking at it as a one off transaction.

If we film for a day, two days or a week, that content SHOULD be used in numerous ways to drive greater awareness of your brand. Our job doesn’t end when we turn the cameras off. The edit suite is where the magic happens. Just ask our friends at Arabian Adventures – who have been our main clients for the last three years – and they constantly dip into the huge bank of content to continually wow their clients and market their services across the globe.

So build that bank of content. You never know when that light bulb idea will happen and you wish you had the footage that could be edited into something amazing.

Content works in numerous ways and has multiple forms, so make sure you’re creating content that is relevant to your source market.

By all means, smash that 199 Dirham brunch. But if you’re trying to impress someone – you’re gonna need to dust off the credit card. And don’t try to bring your own plates to reduce the price.

Don’t get me wrong, I love cheap and cheerful. But be prepared for a killer headache.

The only thing that is certain is uncertainty

Kate Midttun, Founder and Managing Director, Acorn Strategy offers her thoughts on the volatility in the Middle East market and what a good marketing strategy does to prepare for it.

“The only thing that is certain is uncertainty. In 2018, it’s difficult to plan past six months and there’s rarely a company that can afford not to be agile. The days of a fixed 12-month marketing calendar are well behind us.”

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strategise, quite the opposite, in fact, a good strategy will help you pivot faster than your competitors, make quick decisions and react quickly. It will also help you to build the barriers to entry leaving your competitors eating dust as they try to catch up.

So why aren’t people doing it? They’re too busy, they think they have a strategy (it’s really just a tactical plan with some activities), they don’t need one, or they can’t afford it. There’s an argument against each one and really any leader that can’t articulate their marketing strategy and how it plays into their corporate decisions is letting their company down. Marketing should be contributing to corporate success, not just making things look pretty.

From understanding the context of the economy, the trends in the market, customer behaviour and the factors outside of your control, you’ll start to understand where your opportunity truly lies. It doesn’t lie in following your competitor or offering a slightly lower price or doing something just a little bit better – these are some decisions that should add up to a much bigger playbook that can be turned and tweaked as market factors change.

By taking time to consider the space you occupy in the market you get real and stronger. For some, it’s a tough step and an eye opener, but for others it helps to build the foundations for future success. This builds the base of the offering that you provide to your customers and the reason why they’ll continue to return to you.

After understanding the market, the space you occupy and how you answer the demands of the market, you’ll be able to decide on a strategic direction for your marketing that will support in achieving your wider business objectives. Should you be aggressive as a follower, an innovator or just raising awareness. What are the various scenarios around the decision and why did you choose the direction – this part is critical to helping you pivot when something goes wrong.

Once you understand all of this, you can then define the target market you’ll be going after, what channels you need to use to be most effective and what individual activities are required to get the message across.

Last, but not least, you’ll need to define what success looks like on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis as well as how to measure it. At Acorn Strategy we’ve worked on many strategies to help identify the best path for companies. We’ve helped companies adapt quickly to external changes such as the Russian ruble and its impact on the real estate and leisure industries, the health insurance changes on the healthcare market, as well as recalibrating marketing teams to the new reality after the oil crisis.

If done properly, marketing should be delivering the customer based objectives of your business plan. Marketing should have a seat at the boardroom table and should be considered in big company decisions. Importantly, regardless of whether you have a marketing team or not, a marketing specialist should be actively involved in defining the pathway of your company.

Marching into 2018 with the right PR mindset

Frederic Montin, CEO, Majlis PR & Events, touches on the PR/communications industry in 2018 and offers his thoughts on market trends…

It’s traditional to look to the New Year with hope and optimism, however, as communication and PR professionals, we cannot ignore the high tide we could encounter this year.

“The holidays are over and we are truly back to reality. With 2017 technically in the rearview mirror, I think this is a good time to sit down and share with you all the market trends, which could have the greatest impact on the PR Industry this year.”

Nothing is better than a good PR Story for your brand

Irrespective of the thousands of trends in our industry, to market and publicise your brand, a good PR story will always help one prevail long term. My intensive experience in this industry has helped me understand that a brand is best marketed through public relations. Your audience will know you and it will stay only through PR.

Finding new life in the fading press release is crucial

In the last few years, owing to the stiff competition from digital techniques, press releases have not been so effective in earning quality media share. This being said and with me being from the old-school PR generation, there’s always a way to bring new life to the ‘press release.’ As I say, “don’t give up, but reinvent.”

In 2018, video will stand as the most powerful tool of the year

Even in the last year, some of the most powerful PR campaigns have incorporated videos into them. The logic behind this is simple. Graphs, bars and numbers are not enough to grab the audience’s attention. People love to see, feel and understand the information you are sharing. It is important to help more clients understand the need for video content marketing.

Social message driven campaigns could kill the brand or make it stronger

Let’s be honest, there are tons of strong messages, groups and campaigns online covering intense, as well as worldly issues of climate change, immigration, child labour, etc. In the past several years, big brands have decided to take up multiples of these topics for use in corporate social responsibility (CSR) or simple sequence repeat (SSR) campaigns. Historically speaking, it would never be a good idea to be dragged into social-political drama, but today you cannot stay out of it. This has two sides to the coin, it can either backfire on your brand or help it increase the credibility of your brand. In the end, as navigators of communication, it is part of our job to help drive these issues in the right direction.

As the CEO of Majlis PR & Events based in this wonderful, historic city of Dubai, I have witnessed a variety of PR trends come and go in the MENA region. This only motivates me to say, ”take control of your communications plan. If we work hard now, we won’t merely be reacting to these trends, we could be the ones formulating them.”


The Road Ahead For AR And VR In Marketing

Sunil Kumar Singh, Managing Editor at Mediaquest Corp touches on the use of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in the Middle East’s marketing industry…

“There’s a lot of noise on whether the disruptive digital technologies, namely Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are just another buzzword bandwagon or are they something marketers should actually be paying attention to.”

Before I go deeper into it, let’s get a quick overview of what exactly AR and VR are. In plain terms, VR is an immersive multimedia or computer-simulated reality that offers consumers a 360-degree digital environment in a 3D world. This is most commonly experienced through specialised glasses or head-mounted displays.

AR, on the other hand, refers to the integration of the real-world environment that is augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated images or sensory input such as sound, video or graphics. While VR offers a more immersive experience, AR lets users experience the world around them and adds additional digital elements. A widely known example of this technology is the Pokémon GO application.

Improving customer journey

Many of the most valuable brands globally have created some form of virtual or augmented reality experience for their customers or employees. The AR/VR ecosystem is being used by brands to deploy new experiences and thus to improve the customer journey.

IKEA, for instance, has deployed AR technology in its marketing strategy by developing a table as part of its concept kitchen that suggests recipes based on the ingredients on the table.

Beauty specialist Sephora, leverages AR allowing customers to see what they might look like with different shades of lipsticks or types of eyelashes before they actually buy the product.

Some time back, Mercedes had deployed 360-degree VR in its marketing strategy by showing off its latest SL model with a virtual drive on the Pacific Coast Highway in California. Many other automobile brands, such as Ford, Volvo, Volkswagen, BMW, Audi, Porsche, KIA, Lexus, Chevrolet and Honda too have been using these technologies not only in designing their cars, through these technologies, potential buyers can check out the latest models or test drive the cars.

Travel and tour operators to are applying VR to immerse potential travellers into destinations. Expedia for instance, is bringing the VR technology into the booking experience that will enable travellers to use VR to choose the right hotel room for them.

Enriching brand experience

Immersive technologies such as AR and VR can be the new gold standard for brand experiences. While the focus of VR is on experiences and emotional engagement, AR is more commonly used for product trial and utility. In both cases, they can create fully immersive environments as well as deeper brand associations in the minds of consumers.

In case of the retail sector for instance, AR and VR offer a number of solutions for customers. For one, they allow customers to make more informed buying decisions as they visit stores, which can increase the buyer conversion rate. AR/VR offer retailers many solutions such as pre-plan shopping trips, brand differentiation, information delivery, in-store engagement, product customisation, experiential product activation, group entertainment experiences, live streamed VR lectures and events, virtual stores and at-home try-on and training workshops, among others.

So far so good, It’s safer to conclude that both VR and AR have the potential to offer viable ways for brands to engage emotionally with consumers as well as to help brands increase ROI. While brands in many industries are gradually waking up to new opportunities, a full-scale mass adaptation of these technologies is still far away.

However, as consumer expectations are evolving, in order for brands to leverage such technologies for the fullest advantage, these technologies must be implemented strategically with pre-defined marketing objectives. The application of AR/VR must establish an emotional connection with consumers not only to enhance a consumer’s brand experience, but also strengthen brand loyalty and drive social media engagement. Or else, AR/VR risk ending up as a mere entertainment tool.

After all, staying relevant has always been harder for technologies!

Why mediocre content suggests a mediocre product or service

Alex Ionides, Managing Director at Silx, tells TMN what he thinks about mediocre content and why it suggests a mediocre product or service…

“Writing involves a lot of work. Getting your message across with the impact you want means lots of time researching, re-reading, tweaking, reordering, cutting – and sometimes starting over because, well, that idea just didn’t work.”

In the age of content marketing, where informative, journalistic content makes up the vast majority of your overall content production, it is important for you to know what makes for great writing – whether you personally contribute to the writing efforts or not.

There is a ton of digital marketing content out there that is pretty low in quality, partly due to the rush to get it out without having the infrastructure in place to do it properly. Many companies rely on senior staff to contribute articles alongside their regular job, with the result that a good deal of the content produced lacks focus and depth and reads like an afterthought that was knocked out in a hurry – which it often is.

This is a problem because the association between your content and your company offering is direct. If you’re producing content that is of mediocre quality, your audience may subconsciously come to the conclusion that your products and services must also be mediocre.

The converse, however, gives us plenty to smile about. Good content is good for your sales and for your personal reputation. So how can you make sure your digital marketing is delivering great content every time?

Here are five hallmarks of a great content that you have to keep in mind:

It is relevant to your audience

For B2B in particular, relevance comes from producing content that will help your audience do their job better, reduce costs for their company, increase revenue, improve efficiencies and so on. So to ensure your content is consistently relevant, you need to have the right frameworks in place for generating strong content ideas. At Silx we use a few different frameworks during our content idea generation workshops, including problem-solution, sales cycle and past content review.

It illuminates

There is a difference between simply passing on information and illuminating it in a way that readers understand. Good writers anticipate what information their readers want and what questions they are likely to ask. As you write, you introduce concepts that may prompt more questions ­— make sure you give that complete story by ensuring all the essential questions are answered.

It is well-researched

In the digital age we have incredible resources at our disposal, some of them more reliable than others. Once you become familiar with your subject area you will know which sources to trust and which to approach with caution. Whatever the length of the article, your work should be grounded in strong intelligence and data.

It is logical

A good piece of content presents its argument in a way that flows and builds. To ensure this logical flow, there is usually a lot of restructuring and cutting. Think about the order in which you present your concepts and the flow of logic from one point to the next. The entire article should move from title to last word in a manner that takes the reader on a clear journey.

It is a great read

This is something that is often overlooked. You can put all the facts, stats and logic into your piece but if it’s dull to read then it won’t hit home. The ability to hold an audience develops with practice but it is also governed by your attitude. Allow your personality to show through, offer personal insights and opinion, but always make sure that any claims are accurate.

It is a collective effort

While the writing process may seem like a one-person show, that is far from the truth when it comes to content marketing. Finding good writers who can cover your industry topics at an expert level is just the start. Add to that an infrastructure of content planners/strategists as well as editors who together ensure each piece is on message and contributes to your overall content marketing strategy.

Cutting corners on any part of the writing process will weaken the final article. Yes, it is a lot of work and sometimes underappreciated by others inside the company — but if your focus is on giving your audience the quality they deserve, your satisfaction will come directly from them in the form of positive feedback and the money they ultimately spend on your products and services.

Go digital or rest in print!

Leah Simpson, Senior Editor, POPSUGAR Middle East, talks with TeamTMN on why she thinks it’s time, now, more than ever to pave your way into online journalism and offers advice on how to make the transition.

Saying that it’s time to delve into a digital career is not something I imagined I would still be doing in 2017, after spending years working in the UK and US, and watching the markets embrace the necessary changes as consumption habits shifted towards the Internet. Still, almost a decade after starting my career in online journalism, it’s no secret that the UAE has been slower on the uptake and while, yes, the country’s buying habits may differ from others, it’s important that those with experience mainly in traditional media, embrace the new.

“Still, almost a decade after starting my career in online journalism, it’s no secret that the UAE has been slower on the uptake and while, yes, the country’s buying habits may differ from others, it’s important that those with experience mainly in traditional media, embrace the new.”

With print publication closures and team resources being shrunk (even on those that were comparatively very small to begin with), many have found themselves accepting web-based roles sooner than they thought. For those who are apprehensive about taking the leap, here are three big tips I would give to people making the transition.

Forget the rules

Many of the things you’ll see in print do not apply when publishing on the world wide web. So forget what you were taught and get ready to embrace a different way of writing. For example, with headlines, the main concern is writing something that fits into a space and sounds nice, like a play on words or alliteration. You have got to make sure your post is search engine optimised (using key words that people commonly type into their browsers so people can find what they’re looking for), at the same time with an interesting angle as well as informative.

Unlike in a print publication where the readership is more loyal and may have already made the decision to buy before even reaching the newsstand, there’s constant competition with websites to win the reader’s love among the endless choice of similar URLs out there. In a sense, stories featured on search engine pages could be compared to front covers on busy supermarket shelves, the headline and preview picture have to stand out or you face losing website visits and page views to competitors, of which, unlike print publications, the number is limitless.

Time is everything

In print there are daily, weekly, monthly deadlines but when it comes to online, the pressure is constantly there to cover what’s relevant to your brand and publish it in a timely manner. While it’s true that publications have loyal reader bases that come directly to the site to consume stories in a way that resonates with them, if what they need is not there when they want it, loyalty wanes.

Unless you’re lucky enough to work for a brand with teams on different times zones or big enough to work night shifts, it means, the traditional sense of “office hours” are thrown out the window as you prepare yourself to work from practically any space with an Internet connection, which can be both a blessing and a curse as it frees you from being bound to an office chair but technically, your work is never done.

The whole world is your critic…

In real time, online readers can easily track you down if they disagree with something you have written or notice a mistake. So as well as the pressure to impress your manager, prepare for your every word to be scrutinised by anyone on the planet with internet access.

The comments section on articles and social media may become your worst enemy if you find it difficult to take criticism in the public forum, some not constructive. While it can be a great way to keep the conversation going and get opinions on your piece, sometimes the comments section can become the story itself and if what people are saying isn’t constructive, you’ll have to learn to develop a thick skin. It seems people are more likely to voice a negative opinion rather than a positive one, so when you find yourself in the awkward spot of reading negative responses about your writing, take onboard what is reasonable but shrug off the rest as chances are there’s plenty more where that came from.

PR is a commitment, not a short-term fling!

Shraddha Barot Amariei, Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer at White Label Media Group, talks about the benefits of growing an agency in the Middle East and how long-term partnerships help the client…

I started White Label Media as a passion project, back in 2012 and has purely grown based on referrals. Humble beginnings with no office and a one woman show to 15 people. I have been working in this region for over a decade and passionately built my networks from the ground up.

“Working in PR is a tricky thing. To the public view it’s a quick snapshot, a brief story, one off event, flash of a product placement or a clever co-marketing opportunity. Internally, those relationships took months, even years to build in order to offer communications strategies, PR operations and marketing services to our clients that will provide a magical moment of exposure.”

I realised early on that this is a long-term game. Respect is earned from your peers and clients when you don’t buy into the short cuts and when your company’s culture is built on a genuine vision, and the grueling practice of trial and error. To truly build a successful business is hard work and requires tremendous sacrifice. Regardless of what industry you’re in, there is no such thing as a fast solution to staying in business. Our job is to understand the struggles that clients face and identify them on a human level before we make a positive impact on their business. Working in PR is a tricky thing. To the public view it’s a quick snapshot, a brief story, one off event, flash of a product placement or a clever co-marketing opportunity. Internally, those relationships took months, even years to build in order to offer communications strategies, PR operations and marketing services to our clients that will provide a magical moment of exposure.

The trick is in order to identify those magical opportunities you have to know the brand inside and out. It’s completely in the client’s best interest to work hand-in-hand with an agency so they can fully understand the ethos of the brand, the heartbeat, the vision, the voice and the destination. Being an insider, gives the PR agency competitive advantage to seek out creative ways to use PR successfully. At White Label Media, we work as part of the team. We don’t believe in a rigid contract because we know that PR is a lot more then just a task list, it’s a relationship. PR is a back and forth exchange that needs support, love and guidance, all directed towards the same goal.

The struggle lies in getting clients to understand the long-term game, not to mention the variety of what PR is aside from press releases, social media and the occasional launch event. It’s a common theme for clients to switch agencies for every little project, starting from scratch each time. This likely leads to the client being unsatisfied with the work and wanting more. They don’t understand how the fee equals the product or the value of the network that the agency has. As the saying goes, your network is your net worth. The days, months and years of endless meetings, conversations, parties and networking that it took to build a powerful network that you can use to navigate success for your clients is invaluable. In order for it to be used properly the agency needs to know the brand from A to Z.

Our job as agencies is to educate the market, help them understand the benefits of a committed relationship, a lot like our personal lives! You get out, what you put in. By putting time, effort and dedication in PR, we become committed on a long-term basis and not just for the short term, which earns loyalty – and loyalty buys you opportunities that are endless.