Team TMN chat with Kathleen Burbridge, Senior Account Manager at Edelman DABO, who talks about her current role and offers her thoughts on the PR industry in the Middle East.
Name: Kathleen Burbridge
Current job title: Senior Account Manager
When did you first arrive in Dubai? I first arrived in Dubai just over five years ago when I was a full-time model and was flown from London to be a part of the first season of Fashion Forward in addition to a few other jobs. Needless to say, I was only meant to be here for one month but changed careers and am still here now!
Where did you work prior? My first full time job in Dubai was at the avante garde fashion boutique The cARTel doing their PR and Marketing. I’ve been with Edelman DABO for over 3 years but had a brief stint at Seven Media recently.
What were your first impressions of the PR industry in the Middle East? I didn’t have much of an impression, as it was my first career in communications/media.
What about your thoughts now? The media landscape has drastically changed in the past few years, from there being a huge variety of print publications.
Tell us about your current role… In my current role my focus is to head up the BMW Group team which includes BMW and MINI from a corporate perspective and then several of the importers across the region. In addition, I’m managing a handful of our lifestyle/beauty clients.
What challenges do you face? It’s convincing clients that it’s important to think big and to invest in creative campaigns that will truly benefit their business objectives. Today with consumers’ shorter attention spans and their ever-changing media consumption – we need to create something memorable.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job? Seeing the juniors on my team learn, grow and excel – but of course, also see that your work is making a difference in your clients’ business.
How has clients’ expectations in today’s digital community influenced PR and marketing in the UAE? Clients of course want social media coverage and to work with highly followed influencers – but don’t want to pay the cost where relevant. Now that influencers need licenses, we are only going to see costs for creating content increase.
How has social media in the region evolved to become an integrated part of the PR industry? Social media is where the majority of consumers get their news, making it vital to have a social media component for all campaigns. With a huge consumption of Instagram and Snapchat, we really need to make sure all events and venues are ‘instagrammable’, so media/influencers can’t help but post!
What do you think of PR ethics in the industry today? It’s difficult now that publications are fighting for advertisers, as often Editors can only cover clients that advertise. The fact that even a great story can’t be covered without payment behind it, seems a little wrong to me. But it is what it is!
Describe yourself in five words… Passionate, funny, driven, straightforward, caring
Who inspires you? Well, aside from my parents (typical), it’s my directors over the years – I’ve learnt so much from each of them and they have also inspired me to be my best.
What’s your most overused saying? It is what it is!
Five things you can’t live without? Phone, love, friendship, exercise and laughter.
If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing? I would love to just travel… but don’t we all?
What’s your favourite form of media? Flipboard! It’s essentially in aggregator which compiles news and lifestyle stories based on my preferences.
What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a career in PR in the UAE? Be ready to work hard and learn as much as you can!