Dana Abdelhadi, Managing Partner at expose-communications tells TMN about her current role and what she thinks about women dominating the Middle East’s PR industry today…
Name: Dana Abdelhadi
Current job title: Managing Partner at expose-communications
When did you first arrive in Dubai?
1988, a very long time ago!
Where did you work prior?
Prior to my current role, I worked with Mediaquest Corp. from 2006 – 2007 and most recently with Microsoft from 2009 – 2010.
What were your first impressions of the PR industry in the Middle East?
Representing young regional talent eight years ago was a whole new category in the fashion and lifestyle PR world, but the industry was so welcoming and eager to learn about us and our clients.
Has your opinion changed much?
Not so much – the industry has kept its doors open for new agencies and brands, which is great, as in an emerging fashion market such as ours, we need to always make space for our competitors so our industry can blossom.
Tell us about your current role…
I wear different hats throughout the day. I go from planning strategies for fashion shows in Paris to preparing VIP guest lists, to private events while overlooking all aspects of the business – all with the help of my very driven team and my very creative clients.
What challenges do you face?
Time – I need more than 24 hours a day to achieve everything I have on my mind.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
When I see my team as devoted to my company as I am and as a result our clients become our family.
How would you rather be contacted at work?
Email, always by email. With so much going on, I need everything to be written down. I always email myself reminders when I am on the go.
How has PR managed to stay relevant in today’s digital age?
We ensure our strategies are now done for shorter periods of time to keep up with the constant digital change.
What do you think of women dominating the PR industry in the UAE and the role that this has played in the media community?
I never thought of myself as a ‘feminist’ until I became a mother and realised how much more women can do with their time – hence my female driven agency. This is one of the few industries here where people prefer to be represented by a woman and I’m so proud to see so many women in the fashion industry representing such great local and international brands.
Do bloggers play a key role in the UAE’s PR industry today?
Yes definitely, however it’s the insta-famous individuals that are the hottest thing happening in PR right now.
What role has digital media played in redefining the relationship between PR professionals, journalists and bloggers?
PR professionals do what they do best, work on building and maintaining great relationships with journalists, bloggers and any other players in the field, as they are all different outlets we use to expose our brands and we work with each of them in a totally different way. As for bloggers, they need to be featured in the print titles to maintain their credibility in the industry and the journalists are using the bloggers for content. We have all learned to work together in a seamless manner.
Describe yourself in five words…
Passionate, driven, fair, private and sleep-deprived
What’s your most overused saying?
What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you in your career?
Moving into our new showroom last year. I had so much fun putting it all together and I still feel very proud walking into work every day.
Five things you can’t live without?
My daughter Jude, my laptop, my emails, to-do lists and my husband’s morning coffee.
If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?
I’d have a tiny concept store selling unique items collected from my travels.
What is your favourite form of media (i.e; TV, radio, print)?
Print. I still get very excited when a beautiful glossy with an amazing cover shoot lands on my desk.
How do you see the PR industry changing in the UAE in the coming years?
Clients and their agencies will be more and more careful on how they spend their budgets so the strongest titles and accounts will really stand out and get the returns they deserve.
What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a career in the PR industry in the UAE?
Keep your party shoes in your car, as you will definitely need to be able to run around comfortably for a good 12 hours of the day and welcome to the industry!