With Marrcomms360 coming up, Team TMN sit down with Austyn Allison, Editor at Campaign Middle East, to find out what to expect from the upcoming event…
When is the Marcomms360 conference and where will it be held?
The conference will be taking place all day on October 4, at the Steigenberger Hotel in Business Bay, Dubai.
Tell us about the concept behind the conference…
The conference is a partnership between Campaign Middle East and Haymarket, which publishes Campaign out of the UK and it is based loosely on Haymarket/Campaign UK’s very successful PR360 events, which have been running annually for a number of years now. The UK event is focused on public relations, but we have expanded our scope for a couple of reasons. One is that the marketing community here is smaller and it would be a little too exclusive to only talk to PR professionals. But the other reason is that the industry is also changing, and all of us – I include journalists, PR agencies, advertising shops and media buyers – are treading on one another’s toes and plying our trades in much the same area. So we are looking at marketing as a whole, which means that while we are keen to encourage as many PR professionals as possible to come along, we also expect to see people from advertising, client-side, media agencies and elsewhere in the audience and on the stage, discussing the challenges and opportunities the marketing and communications community faces as a whole.
Who is your target audience and how can they get involved?
Our target audience is basically anyone involved in marketing and communications. From interns to CEOs, PR agencies to media buyers, advertising creatives to journalists. We are all working to get messages across on different platforms and often we are working together or working in areas that might once have been the territory of those with other job titles. If you are a content producer or a client handler, register and come along and there will be something to interest you.
What is the registration process?
The registration process is simple. Go to www.marcomms360.com, and you will be directed to where you can buy tickets online.
Why did you feel the need to launch the conference in the region?
Haymarket’s PR360 has been very successful in the UK and we felt it was time to bring something similar to the Middle East. There are already excellent conferences on creativity run by the likes of Dubai Lynx and on technology, and innovation run by some of the agencies. Bodies such as the PRCA and MEPRA do a sterling job of bringing the PR community together, as does The Media Network. But we wanted an event that would look outside the silos we work in, and look at how integrated marketing and communications in the region works. This is why we are looking at topics like how to put together pitches and how to work in an integrated way with other agencies, among other topics. The industry used to be a pretty basic jigsaw with only a few large, simple pieces (strained metaphor alert!). But in recent years someone has come along and chopped those up into smaller pieces that can be put together in any number of ways. We want those pieces to talk to one another and make sure the picture they make up is the one the clients sees on his box.
Do you foresee any challenges in launching this conference?
There are challenges in launching any conference. Getting the right speakers, making sure that attendees are alike enough to get along but different enough that they learn from each other during the networking sessions. And I have to admit that as a mere Editor, more at home with a messy desk and a Word document, the logistics fill me with dread. But luckily we have not one but two experienced teams on the case: Haymarket and Campaign Middle East’s parent company Motivate (which runs events from the Gulf Business Awards to Party in the Park) have some ridiculously good people who have been soldiering away behind the scenes for at least six months now, making sure everything goes smoothly. As a result, we have a stellar speaker line-up, with some familiar faces and some fresh surprises, we have a great venue; and we have a programme that will offer something for everyone without trying to tell you what you already know.
What kind of changes are you hoping to promote and encourage with this conference?
I think we are trying to encourage conversation more than change. But in a way that is change in itself. If, as a result of the conference, PR agencies talk more to media buyers, who talk more to brand strategists who talk more to social creators… and so on down the line, then I think we will have done our job. Five years ago people talked about breaking down silos. Those silos are gone and the point of Marcomms360 is to lead the conversation about what comes next.
What has been your advertising strategy in the region?
We have been using digital and social a lot to reach relevant people in a cost-effective way. And we have been using that oft-underestimated method of simple word-of-mouth, calling up our contacts and industry friends and telling them why they should get along to the event. As Editor of Campaign, I write about marketing and advertising on a daily basis, but I’m glad I’m surrounded by people who can actually do it.
Can anyone attend the event?
Absolutely. And anyone who is thinking about it should head along to www.marcomms360.com to find out more. There will be more for those who are directly involved in PR, marketing and communications, but some sessions (fake news, I’m looking at you) are going to be interesting for all.
What does the future hold for Marcomms360 in the region?
We certainly hope to make this event an annual one. It’s a great way to expand the brand of Campaign Middle East, and also to bring the marketing and communications community together to tackle some of the existential questions we are all facing.