Name: Maria Stapleton
Age: 36 (I can’t believe I am that age!!!)
Current job title: Managing Director of Cara Public Relations
When did you arrive in the UAE?
I first came to the UAE in 2006 for my husband’s job. I stayed for four years before moving back to Edinburgh as my husband was homesick – unbelievable, I know! Since then, I have been based in Edinburgh, but travel to and from Dubai for work (and to get some sun!) – the majority of my clients are based here.
Where did you work prior?
Edinburgh, Scotland. Before working in PR, I was a Journalist and actually started my career at Gulf News, before moving to the (now-defunct) titles iQ and Insider, which were part of ENG.
What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
Because of my background in journalism, I got to know lots of people in media circles and always found the media bunch great fun to both work and socialise with. People were – and still are – very welcoming and friendly. Unlike more established media hubs there was also a really positive “can do” attitude and I always found that people were as helpful as they could possibly be to me. I count some of the journalists who are still working in the UAE as great friends.
Have these impressions changed much?
Not at all. The only difference that I think exists is that there are fewer journalists per publication. This means journalists have a lot more to get through in a working day and it can be difficult for them to get away from the office.
Tell us about your new company, CARA PR…
Cara is the Irish word for friend which is the philosophy behind the Cara brand. I want my business to be viewed as a friend that a business would look to for support to achieve success. I am passionate about what I do and have found that the best PR evolves when you are able to forge positive relationships with people – and, whether in business or personal life, a good relationship hinges on being open, honest and trustworthy. I view my clients’ businesses as my own and offer a professional service that has a uniquely personal feel.
What challenges do you face?
My biggest challenge is the same as that of every working mother I know –balancing home and working life, without feeling any degree of guilt.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
There are two. When I see my clients’ businesses grow and when they are offered fantastic opportunities that really excite them. Getting interest from prospective clients through the recommendation of an existing client is also highly rewarding, as that proves to me that my client really values what I am doing for them and that they are happy.
What’s the most exciting thing to happen so far?
There have been lots. Recently, Pastels Salon was the official salon partner for Fashion Forward and that was fantastic!
What do you think of the quality of media publications in the region?
When I first came to Dubai, there were lots of publications and you could find one dedicated to practically any subject. Since then the industry has become more streamlined, which is definitely a positive step. Now the UAE’s media industry is becoming a well-respected entity globally, with journalists coming from international publications to work here and journalists from the UAE securing sought-after jobs in other countries.
What sets you apart from other media professionals?
I think it is my personal approach. Although I have been out of Ireland for more than half my life, I definitely think I retain my home country’s way of dealing with people!
Work calls via landline, mobile or both?
Whatever is easiest for whomever is trying to reach me, and whichever means I will get the client something that they want – whether that’s securing coverage or another opportunity for them.
What’s your most overused saying?
Leave it to me.
Five things you can’t live without?
My phone (for emails, music, skype and pictures!) pen, paper (despite technology, I write everything down!) pain au chocolat and a well-made latte.
If you weren’t with CARA PR, what would you be doing?
I would like to think that I would be doing something in the Arts such as writing or acting, but I would probably be a teacher because it pays the bills and would give me lots of time off to indulge my creative side!