In The Hot Seat – Isabel Tapp

Team TMN catch up with Isabel Tapp, Founder and CEO, AllDetails Middle East who talks about her role and offers her thoughts on the PR industry in the Middle East…

Name: Isabel Tapp

Age: 53

Nationality: Maltese/British

Current job title: Founder and CEO, AllDetails Middle East

 When did you first arrive in Dubai? 2000

 Where did you work prior?

I have worked with travel and luxury hotels all my life – having started with the Corinthia Group at the age of 18 and working in Malta, the UK and Switzerland, before coming to Dubai to set up the PR department for Jumeirah Hotels in 2000.

What were your first impressions of the PR industry in the Middle East?

When I first arrived in 2000, the PR industry in the Middle East was young and just starting out, trying to find its way. It was a little bit like a toddler trying to walk for the first time

 Has your opinion changed much?

Absolutely! The PR sector in the Middle East is now much more mature, with many agencies, large and small, as well as independent consultants, all competing for the business. The levels of professionalism and effectiveness vary greatly from company to company.

Tell us about your current role

I have been running my own PR company for the last 13 years, representing some of the most prestigious names in the hospitality industry, as well as launching new exciting brands into the GCC market.

What challenges do you face?

There are many day-to-day challenges from finding the right team members with the right qualities, to educating new and prospective clients of the importance of PR and building a brand name. PR, if used correctly, can be significantly more effective than advertising, however, it is not a quick fix and needs sustained work over a period of time.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Seeing the results of hard work come to fruition, team members growing and developing as people and happy clients achieving their objectives.

How has clients’ expectations in today’s digital community influenced PR and marketing in the UAE?

There is still some confusion as to what the correct mix of traditional and digital PR and marketing is the most effective. From my point of view, I advocate a mix of activities, in order to maintain brand awareness and for brands to stand out from the crowd.

How has social media in the region evolved to become an integrated part of the PR industry?

When I first started my business, 13 years ago, we did not use social media for business at all – today, it is an integral part of the PR and marketing mix.

What do you think of PR ethics in the industry today?

There is a lot of competition in the GCC PR industry – sadly, not all of them give the industry a good name and we are very often approached by clients who have had bad experiences with PR agencies doing a bad job or not doing anything at all.

Describe yourself in five words

Determined, passionate, perfectionist, strategist and intuitive.

Who inspires you?

Many people inspire me – people who are determined to achieve their objectives against all odds and people who don’t give up, but keep going.

What’s your most overused saying?

Don’t give up!

Five things you can’t live without?

My mobile, my laptop, sun, sea and travel

If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?

I would be a Lawyer.

What’s your favourite form of media?

I love them all – I love communication in all its formats.

What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a career in PR in the UAE?

Choose to work for professional PR companies, who will give you a solid foundation and who work ethically and care about their employees and clients as well as the results they achieve – can be big or small.