Five Minute Focus – Marcomms360

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, 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 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.


Five Minute Focus – TMN Legal Initiative

With the launch of the ‘TMN Legal Initiative by The Media Network (TMN) and Al Tamimi & Company, Team TMN sit down with Fiona Robertson, Senior Associate at Al Tamimi & Company to talk about the new initiative and what to expect…

Tell us about the concept behind the ‘TMN Legal Initiative’…

It became evident when TMN and Al Tamimi did a presentation on legal issues around content creation, that a lot of smaller agencies were not using well-written and up-to-date contracts for their client services. For smaller companies and particularly those in startup mode, securing quality contracts does not get the priority that it deserves and this is often due solely to the cost. So TMN approached us about the possibility of assisting new small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the media industry to obtain quality contracts by allowing four SMEs to band together and share the cost of doing one contract between them.

Who is your target audience?

We are specifically targeting PR, marketing and communications agencies with a maximum of ten employees that have been in operation for less than five years.

What is the approximate cost for a consultation per agency through this initiative?

We have set the cost at AED 4,200 per agency. For this, they get a consultation on a one-to-one basis and then we will draft a contract that all four companies can use as their template.

Why should agencies get involved in the programme?

This is a unique opportunity to get access to our lawyers who specialise in this area for a fraction of the usual cost. We are doing this because we believe that the smaller agencies are leading the way with iconic work and truly targeted initiatives for their clients but they don’t always have the cashflow (yet) to employ our services. We want to help them. In addition, we believe that an industry that is strongly focused on doing business ethically and legally is going to assist all of us in the long term.

How would the programme grow from client servicing?

We are already doing a programme of exciting presentations with TMN and we are keen to keep that going – send your ideas to TMN and they will pass them on to us. Ideally, we hope that our chosen four companies take off to become massive success stories – and keep us as their lawyers!

What is the registration process?

TMN will be taking the applications directly and they will then be passing them on to us. You can email if you would like to be considered, but please serious applications only. Payment must be received before your place is secured and a meeting set up.

What kind of legal changes are you hoping to promote and encourage with this initiative?

We are hoping that the industry learns to see media lawyers as trusted facilitators who can help them manage their business towards growth. Working with lawyers early in transactions can assist in clarifying and managing the relationship between clients and suppliers. Clarity in relationships, which is best done with contracts, means that your business (and your staff) will be able to clearly understand your responsibilities – which means less arguments, less payment delays and more repeat business!

Why did you feel the need to launch this initiative in the region?

Although we are lawyers, we are industry lawyers, who feel very much a part of the media business. Plus I do think that newly created SMEs need all the help and support they can get.

Do you foresee any challenges in launching this initiative?

Juggling the needs of four entities will be tricky. People have a tendency to think that we simply ‘replace all’ in contracts but in fact this is not the case. Each business has its own particular way of operating – and very different areas of importance. Some are very wedded to a particular approval process with clients whilst others don’t want to be too specific with approvals. I am already having nightmares about how to juggle contract termination ideas from four different companies!

What does the future hold for the TMN Legal Initiative?

I am hoping to choose one key contract a year and do it again, but let’s take one step at a time!

Five Minute Focus – MENA Effie Awards 2017

With the MENA Effie Awards coming up, Team TMN sits down with Alexandre Hawari, Co-CEO at Mediaquest, to find out what to expect from the upcoming event…

When is the MENA Effie Awards 2017 and where will it be held?

The MENA Effie Awards will take place on November 15, 2017 at The Pavilion, Armani Hotel, Dubai.

Tell us about the concept behind the Awards…

Effie Worldwide stands for effectiveness in marketing communications, spotlighting marketing ideas that work and encouraging thoughtful dialogue about the drivers of marketing effectiveness. The Effie network works with some of the top research and media organisations worldwide to bring its audience relevant and first-class insights into effective marketing strategy.

Launched in 1968, the Effie Awards program honours the most effective advertising efforts and is known by advertisers and agencies globally as the pre-eminent award in the industry. The Effie Awards celebrates effectiveness worldwide, by continually raising the bar through the Global Effies and the Positive Change Effies, as well as regional programs in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East / North Africa, North America, Latin America and more than 40 national Effie programs.

As a Co-CEO at Mediaquest Corp., why did you feel the need to launch the Effie Awards in the region?

The region is transforming and we needed to acknowledge and celebrate the people and companies that are helping in this transformation. Hence, in 2009, we joined forces with the world-renowned Effie Worldwide to become the GEMAS Effie MENA Awards, which are now called MENA Effie Awards.

Today, the Effie Awards are known by advertisers and agencies globally as the pre-eminent award in the industry that recognises any and all forms of marketing communication that contribute to a brand’s success.

What are the challenges you face to make each year’s MENA Effie Awards different and meaningful?

The one factor that makes the MENA Effie Awards stand out as an award program is our transparency and credibility of the awards, which is something that is of utmost importance to us and we need to ensure it is well respected.

We work with some of the top research and media organisations worldwide to bring the audience relevant and first-class insights into effective marketing strategy.

Can you give us some details about the nomination process?

Simply log on to our website, for full details on how to submit your entry.

Do you have any feedback or tips for submissions, to help them stand out?

The most fundamental question judges ask of an Effie submission is, ‘How persuasively have the authors made their case?’ – followed closely by ‘What were they trying to achieve and how ambitious were they in the first place?’

Entrants need to review and understand the criteria on which the questions are based in order to be able to answer the fundamental questions judges ask. There are some common mistakes that entrants make, such as the following, which need to be avoided.

  • Results/data not referenced
  • Case study needs
  • Agency name or logos published on the entry form or on the creative materials
  • Including results or competitive work/logos on the creative reel
  • Failing to follow the formatting requirements
  • Missing translation

Judges read so many cases at one go, so they are looking for a case to be coherent and also to ensure that entrants have managed to state their objectives, ideas and key performance indicators (KPIs) clearly for them to be able to judge. Most importantly, for the results, judges look for direct correlations between real objectives and results and to check that they are properly sourced.

The more precise and relevant the documentation, the stronger the case, and the higher chances entrants have to win.

Who will be judging the entries for the MENA Effie Awards?

Being an Effie judge is one of the toughest jobs because as a judge you are not only raising the bar for the industry by the winners you select, but you are at the same time sending a message to the industry on different levels about marketing effectiveness. Due to this very reason, the judges who are on the panel are marketing veterans from the industry, chief marketing officers, vice presidents, marketing directors/managers, corporate communications and brand managers. The MENA Effie Awards are also focused on enhancing learning in our industry and what better way to do that than to have the industry as part of the jury panel?

Can you tell us more about the awards/categories themselves?

The categories are decided based on the judges’ feedback and depending on how the market is transforming. Based on that, the categories are divided into three segments, Product and Services categories – these categories speak to the overall industry, while Specialty categories are designed to address a specific business situation or challenge and then you have Shopper Marketing, which is for integrated campaigns that were specifically designed to engage a target shopper.

What has been your advertising strategy in the region?

The event targets the marketing and advertising industry in the MENA region. It was extremely complicated to find a cost-effective way to reach this sector, so we relied on many different approaches, such as direct marketing and advertisement in print media, as well as regular above-the-line advertisements, digital advertisements and social media campaigns.

What is the reaction you expect, following the event?

The Effie Effectiveness Index identifies and ranks the marketing communications industry’s most effective agencies, advertisers and brands by analysing finalist, and winner data from Effie Worldwide competitions. The greatest result following the MENA Effie Awards would be how the MENA region brands and agencies stand out and make their names along with the global players and for more great work coming out of the region.

FP7, an agency from the MENA region, has been making its name in the global index for two years in a row and doing better than its global offices.

Can anyone attend the awards ceremony?

The event is open to the marketing and advertising industry across the region, as well as agencies who work along with the clients on their marketing campaigns.

What does the future hold for the MENA Effie Awards in the region?

As an awards program, the MENA Effie Awards have already made its mark in the industry as the Oscars for the marketing industry.

What we now aim for is MENA Effie to become a network for the marketing industry through programs, insights, videos and white papers on effective marketing and other key educational and learning tools focusing on sharing insights on the principles of effective advertising and marketing communications.

Five Minute Focus – ArabNet Digital Summit

With the ArabNet Digital Summit coming up, Team TMN sits down with Rana Yaacoub, Media and Partner Manager at ArabNet, to find out what to expect from the upcoming event…

Tell us about ArabNet Digital Summit…

The ArabNet Digital Summit is the region’s most influential conference for digital business and innovation and will be hosting it’s fifth edition to bring together 80 top speakers, 50 exhibitors, over 1200 attendees, and more than 50 key talks and sessions. The summit will involve discussions on the latest in the fields of media, marketing, e-commerce, financial technology, internet of things, big data, investing in technology, and digital business transformation across four separate forums, AdTech, Smart Economy, Digital Commerce, and Innovation and Investment. The event will also feature 18 of MENA’s most promising startups competing at the ArabNet Startup Championship, as well as leading investors from across the world discussing the state of the industry.

When did the summit launch in the region?

The first ArabNet Digital Summit to took place in Dubai in 2013, while ArabNet conferences launched across the region with Beirut in 2010, Riyadh in 2012 and Kuwait in 2016.

When and where will this year’s event take place?

The ArabNet Digital Summit will take place on May 16-17 at the Madinat Jumeirah Conference and Events Center, Dubai.

How will this ArabNet Digital Summit 2017 be different as compared to the previous years’? Please tell us about the four forums…

This year’s summit will include four forums that will cover different tracks within the economy, digital, media and advertising as well as innovation and investment fields. The forums will be categorised into;

  • Smart Economy Forum: This full track explores the smart economy covering smart cities, smart governments, the future of cars and transportation, and the digital enterprise as well as the blockchain and machine learning technologies driving this transformation.
  • Digital Commerce Forum: This forum explores the emerging trends and opportunities in e-commerce, e-retail and payments in the MENA region. It also dives into the digital transformations taking place in the banking sector, and the fintech innovations that are changing the financial services industry.
  • AdTech Forum: This forum features two full tracks covering the latest trends in digital media and advertising, including the AdTech Showcase, which is a convergence of new advertising and media technologies from around the world to improve the impact and efficiency of campaigns, and help publishers maximise revenues.
  • Innovation and Investment Forum: This forum features a full track for investors, with high-level discussions that includes, limited partners (LPs), private equity investors and family offices — to help the corporate community understand how they can invest in or collaborate with startups to stay ahead of disruption.

Also included will be the ArabNet Startup Championship, with pitches from 18 of the most promising startups from across the MENA region, handpicked through local pitching rounds and winners given the opportunity to go global.

What was the idea behind introducing four forums under one summit?

The regional market is changing. Audiences today prefer content and networking opportunities that are more specialised, which is why this year, we have shifted and spread the summit across four separate and specialised forums, which are the AdTech, Smart Economy, Digital Commerce, and Innovation and Investment.

What is the concept behind the AdTech Forum?

The concept of the AdTech Forum is based on analytics, content distribution, programmatic, native, bots and automation, which are all technologies that are reshaping how publishers, agencies and brands do business. The focus of the forum will be on topics such as measurement and attribution, content strategies in a world of distraction, ephemeral content; strategies and best practices, technologies changing the consumer journey and showcase of AdTech technologies.

What will be the key topics of discussion at the AdTech forum?

The main topics of discussions at the event will be, New technologies in online advertising, Influencer marketing: Popularity vs impact, Online brand strategies, Consumer experiences: Marketing and commerce

Who will be speaking/participating at the same?

The top regional and international speakers that will be participating in this year’s event will include:

  • John Stoneman, General Manager at Triplelift, Europe.
  • Lauren Maillian, Entrepreneur, Global Marketer, Startup Advisor, Speaker, TV Personality and Author.
  • Sarah Cunningham, Marketing Manager and Head of Demand Generation at AdRoll.
  • Sebastian Schindler, Global Insights Lead at InSKin Media.
  • Scott Lamb, Vice President of International at BuzzFeed.
  • Tim Wolfs, Chief Digital Officer at Altavia Group.
  • Liely Bullock, Enterprise Partnerships Manager – EMEA at Statiq.

The full list of speakers can be found on ArabNet’s official website.

Can industry professionals of the region participate as speakers at the event? What is the procedure to apply?

ArabNet has a track record of bringing together globally renowned speakers to discuss cutting-edge topics in web and mobile, through interactive panel formats, talks, and workshops. We are always on the search for innovative experts who can share their work and research. For speakers interested in showcasing a case study or research, whether on social media, at the Digital Summit or any future event, they may apply on the website.

Is the forum open for anyone to attend? What is the registration process?

ArabNet Digital Summit is an exclusive event, with two registration categories. The investors and corporates participation fee varies according to the registration time.

Young professionals, students and entrepreneurs can request an invitation and attend for free. The reason we chose to launch such an initiative this year is to support new entrepreneurs and young professionals who are in the process of establishing their business, but have no means to afford a ticket.

Who’s next for the top spot at Vogue?

Following the breaking news surrounding Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz’s departure from her position as Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Arabia, all questions point to who is next in line for the top spot. TMN lists out seven worthy contenders for the throne…

  1. Sofia Guellaty: Previously Editor-in-Chief of Arabia, also part of Nervora Publishing, Sofia has extensive experience in luxury fashion titles and is well known for discovering and honing creative Middle Eastern talent.
  1. Manuel Arnaut: Currently Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Digest Middle East, Manuel’s flair for fashion and style and association with one of Condé Nast International’s most reputed titles makes him a strong – and – likely candidate for the role.
  1. Rhea Saran: Previously Associate Editor and Features Editor of GQ India, Rhea was appointed as Editor-in-Chief of Condé Nast Traveller Middle East in September 2013. Renowned fashion journalist, Suzy Menkes may know something that we don’t… Rhea featured not once, but twice on Suzy’s Instagram over the past month.
  1. Ritu Upadhyay: Middle East Correspondent for Women’s Wear Daily for over 10 years, Ritu is well-versed with the Middle East and global fashion landscape, as well as the business and retail side of the industry.
  1. Louise Nichol: Editor-in-Chief of luxury women’s glossy, Harper’s Bazaar Middle East – which runs neck-to-neck with Vogue Arabia – Louise is an obvious choice and a more than able candidate for the role.
  1. Esther Quek: Previously Fashion and Beauty Director at APP for Rake Middle East, Revolution Middle East and Condé Nast Traveller Middle East and currently Editor-in-Chief of Citizen K Arabia, Esther is a well-known personality on the national and international luxury fashion scene.
  1. Alison Tay: Currently Editor-in-Chief of Grazia Middle East, Alison is a regular on the FROW at all the major fashion weeks. With decades of experience in fashion writing, styling and presenting, she’s an obvious candidate for the role.

Five Minute Focus – Top CEO Conference and Awards

With the Top CEO Conference and Awards coming up, Team TMN sit down with Julien Hawari, Co-CEO at Mediaquest Corp., to find out what to expect from the upcoming event…

Tell us about the Top CEO Conference and Awards…

The Top CEO Conference is a very unique concept – It brings together people from across the region to discuss the important issues that are making an impact today. This year’s theme is ‘Adapting to disruption: New Roles, new realities’. Regionally, low oil prices have had a huge impact on businesses and governments, leading to a tremendous number of changes, including new laws, regulations and taxes, plus a more open market. In addition, businesses and governments in the region have had to adapt to the introduction and impact of new technology and the fourth Industrial revolution. Attracting businessmen and women from the region, as well as key government officials and top academics, the Top CEO Conference discusses all of these topics and more, to help find solutions and drive businesses forward. Meanwhile, the Top CEO Awards celebrate the region’s best business leaders.

When did the Top CEO Conference and Awards launch in the Middle East?

The Top CEO Conference and Awards were launched almost four years ago, the result of a very simple premise, which was that the region was transforming and we needed to acknowledge and celebrate the people and companies that are helping in this transformation, creating growth and enabling good corporate governance and transparency in the region.

What were the challenges you faced when you first launched the event?

The first event was quite a challenge, because we did it in order to change things, to bring transparency to the awards and bring in-depth conversations to the conference. It took a lot of energy to ensure that our message was clear and the execution, perfect.

As a Co-CEO at Mediaquest Corp., why did you feel the need to launch Top CEO in the region?

The idea of starting the awards came more than four years ago, following a conversation with a friend. He mentioned how the GCC and Middle East are transforming and said the future is about the people, companies and CEOs that are creating value for shareholders and growing the regional business landscape by creating jobs, and also ensuring more corporate governance as well as more transparency. Along with the team behind TRENDS media, we created an awards ceremony that was very unique. There is no opt-in or opt-out, all publicly listed companies are evaluated and there is no fee for this evaluation. The Top CEO Awards were launched to put forward and celebrate the companies and their CEOs who are taking the region to the next level. The awards are based on hard facts and the listing is arrived at using a formula that was developed by us in collaboration with INSEAD Business School. We also worked with Hawkamah to find out how best to measure some of the corporate governance transparency criteria. One of the Big Four auditors help ensure that we have the same level of rigor and transparency on our side.

When and where will this year’s event take place?

The event will take place from April 10 – 11, 2017 in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia.

Why did you choose Saudi Arabia?

For the past two years, Saudi Arabia has been going through a magnificent transformation, economic regulation and a complete uplift of the economy that is helping make the fantastic Vision 2030 a reality. Saudi Arabia is also the largest market in the region, so it makes sense for a conversation that looks into the future of the region to be held there.

How will 2017’s conference be different, compared to the previous years’?

The conference this year takes the best of the previous years and builds on it. We have a very strong conversation that will discuss not just the challenges the region is facing, but also the opportunities being created, from the consequences of slow growth, to adapting to the new technology that is transforming business. Other additions this year include round-table sessions, as well as private sessions and meetings that will take place on April 10. These sessions will help the region formulate some answers to the question of what is going on globally in the world of business and how this impacts business in the region. These sessions will also look into anti-dumping and anti-trust laws.

For the media industry, one of the most important conversations that we will have at the Top CEO Conference looks at the need for the region to put in place some regulations to create a more level playing field, in terms of competition between global digital players and the regional ecosystem.

What has been your advertising strategy in the Middle East?

The Top CEO event is very particular. It reaches a very specific audience in the region, CEOs, board members, C-level executives and managing directors. It was extremely complicated to find a cost-effective way to reach this entire population – we relied on many different approaches such as, direct marketing and direct shipment, thanks to the help of our partner DHL, TV advertisements on several TV channels across the region, advertisement on print media, as well as regular above-the-line advertisements, digital advertisements and social media campaigns.

Please elaborate on the topics of discussion.

As mentioned, this year’s discussion is on adapting to disruption, what businesses and governments need to do in an age of complexity, where every single part of business is being disrupted by new challenges and how this should be done while maintaining and growing the customer base.

Can you tell us about the speakers at the event? Will it feature speakers from the media/communications/advertising industries?

There will be more than 40 different speakers at the Top CEO Conference and Awards. What makes the list very special this year is that all of the speakers, both from the region and abroad, will address fundamental disruptions that are impacting the market and share ideas on how best to adapt to these changes. They will also touch upon digital disruption and the fourth industrial revolution, as well as some other, more fundamental issues impacting the region and how all of these are modifying the way business is being conducted. The full list of speakers and agenda is on our website,

How will Top CEO benefit businesses and professionals in the media industry? Why would you recommend that leaders from the industry attend the event?

One of the topics being addressed at Top CEO Conference, which is particularly important for the media industry, is how to regulate the media industry, especially in light of global events impacting the region. Is it time for the region to implement the equivalent of anti-dumping laws? Are global players selling at a fair price or have they amortised most of the infrastructure and selling at discounted prices in the region? These are fundamental questions that the region needs to address. China has put a Chinese twist on different media, Europe has looked into more legislation and taxation. So the region perhaps needs to consider a mix of both. This is an important conversation that needs to take place, and naturally, it is important that the media and communication industry are part of the conversation.

Who is your target audience?

The target audience for the Top CEO Conference and Awards comprises of decision makers, CEOs, C-Level management and managing directors, people who have important business in this part of the world and look into ways to improve the overall economies in the region.

What is the reaction you expect, following the event?

The greatest result following the Top CEO Conference and Awards would be that important conversations essential for the future of the region take place between industry players, with a focus on improving each region at the heart.

Can anyone attend the conference and awards ceremony?

The conference is open to all decision makers from across the region.

What is the registration process?

Simply log on to our website, for full registration details, the full agenda and speaker biographies.

What should the press and media expect at the event? How can they get involved?

Media and press are welcome to the Top CEO Conference and Awards. They are an important part of the conversation and the event is a great opportunity for them to meet decision makers and speak with them on the future of the region. Media and press can log on to to register.

Five Minute Focus – PR Pressure

Team TMN sits down with Sarah Mohamed, Founder and Director at Secret PR to find out more about the second edition of PR Pressure…

 Tell us a bit about PR Pressure and when it will be held.

Launched in May 2016, PR Pressure is a series of conferences that address the challenges faced in the industry. Topics for the conference are chosen by the target audience to ensure that they’re relevant and up to date. Our aim is to bring media and communications professionals together to share their experiences and help the industry come up with pragmatic solutions for the region. The second edition of PR Pressure will take place on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at the Metropolitan Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road.

What is the concept behind the conference?

PR Pressure is a place where everyone’s voice is heard. There are many existing conferences around the region that discuss similar topics and issues, however, speakers are usually redundant and many times, the smaller agencies are under-represented. We cannot grow without acknowledging different professional levels and this serves as a platform for students, freelancers, juniors and seniors to voice themselves.

Did you face any challenges when you launched the event last year?

I think our biggest challenge last year was setting the foundations for PR Pressure. Standing out from other similar platforms and creating a solid brand for PR Pressure was a priority. The team and I had to work on organising the event while also managing our existing clients, it was quite tough to manage our time internally while still maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

Why do you think the Middle East PR industry needs a platform like PR Pressure?

PR Pressure is not just for the suits and ties, it is a casual open discussion where one can ask a question and not feel like they’re the only one who’s not in the know. I feel that the industry needed a platform like this, with a unique environment unlike other such events.

How will 2017’s PR Pressure be different from the first one that was held last year?

Aside from the different topics, we’ve decided to include more people on each panel to better capture the various sectors of our industry. Last year’s attendees requested for more in-house and media insight and that’s something we’ve worked to achieve for this year. Unlike last year’s conference, the sessions in March will also have live English and Arabic interpretation to allow more people to get involved despite our language barriers.

 What will be the topics of discussion at the second edition of the conference?

The topics for the conference are selected keeping in mind the common challenges faced and suggestions from our PR and media circles. There exists a level of uncertainty about the legal aspects of our industry and so this year, one of the sessions, ‘Maintaining proper form’ will feature lawyers who will shed light on the same. The conference will also address other topics such as complexities of the Arabic language and challenges it presents for copywriters as well as the future of PR in the ever-growing digital realm.

Tell us about your target audience.

Our target audience includes media, marketing and communications professionals as well as students who are looking to specialise in these fields. We have partnered with MEPRA and the PRCA this year to try and get more in-house representatives involved. In the future we would like to welcome more attendees from the client side as well – although I’d have to make sure our primary target is open to that first!

What is the reaction you expect following the event?

I am confident that our attendees will love PR Pressure but the real reaction I hope to achieve is proactive change. I want people to take what they learned at PR Pressure and implement it − that is when we will know that PR Pressure was a true success.

Tell us about the key speakers participating at PR Pressure.

We try our best to ensure that we accurately represent the industry in the region and give the audience a greater variety when it comes to speakers. This year we are lucky to have panellists from local, regional and international companies as well as freelancers, journalists, lawyers, consultants and government agencies. The speakers include industry professionals from companies such as Tactics, The Qode, IHC, Al Roeya Newspaper, Digital Ink, Cicero & Bernay, Procter & Gamble, Cedar White Bradley Group, MCG Associates and the Dubai Sports Council.

How does one register to attend the event?

People can register by filling out a form on our website and for group registrations, you can send through delegate and company names to

 What does the future hold for PR Pressure?

Most of the audience and participants of last year’s event said that they wanted more PR Pressures, so we are looking at either increasing the frequency of our conferences or creating other smaller get-togethers through the year. While we haven’t yet thought about expanding into more countries within the region, it is something that we could consider in the future. For now, I would like to focus more on the UAE as there is still so much to be done.

Five Minute Focus – PR Measurement

TMN catch up with Mazen Nahawi, CEO of CARMA, to find out about the upcoming seventh PR Measurement Summit to take place from October 12-13, 2016…

Tell us a bit about CARMA and the PR Measurement Summit?

CARMA is a media intelligence company that uses a unique methodology, balancing automation and curation to capture global media coverage and provide analytics that drive business impact. In other words, we focus on delivering media information in the form of monitoring, media analysis and databases which help improve client decision-making, whether that be measuring reputation, PR performance or other important communication facts. CARMA is one of the leading measurement and media intelligence company in the region and a growing player internationally, but this summit will not be about us, it will be about the industry and best practice measurement.

The PRMS is a standalone measurement event that began in 2008, we have had three of them in Dubai, two in the USA and one in Argentina. It’s aimed at having a high level and strategic dialogue about measurement best practices worldwide, gathering the best minds in our industry and promoting the concept of measurement across communications. The speakers are mainly high level communication professionals but that doesn’t mean a mid-level executive won’t benefit. They will definitely benefit by learning about best practice, upcoming concepts and genuine case study examples.

Where did the concept for the summit originate?

In 2007 I felt that we needed a forum to help further the understanding of measurement. PR measurement in the region is very isolated, it wasn’t opened up to a global audience or global ideas, it was very much rooted in AVE’s which are not the measure of public relations. I felt that by getting experienced people from around the world, who live and breathe measurement, we would be able to change the dialogue and help elevate the level of measurement in our region. I think that’s exactly what has happened, not only have people taken that best practice and adopted it, but we’ve been able to become a part of the global dialogue on measurement, not just CARMA as a company but the entire PR industry.

Although CARMA is the primary sponsor and driving force behind the event, we want this to be an open dialogue where all parties are invited. We have invited people from AMEC and FIBEP to take part and MEPRA is a strategic partner too, because we want to make sure the members of MEPRA have the ability to benefit from this exchange of ideas and knowledge as well as to actually have MEPRA at the forefront of advocating for measurement best practice in the region.

Who is the PR Measurement Summit aimed at?

The event is aimed at all PR and communications professionals, as I mentioned early our keynote speakers and panelists are Senior Communications professionals from some of the world’s leading PR agencies, international corporations and communications research centers, but that does not mean your entry level communication executive will not benefit from learning about best practices and getting a feel for its use in the context of real business scenarios. That’s often the issue, how to put theory into practice.

What do you think makes an event such as the PR Measurement Summit relevant to the Middle Eastern community?

Like any part of the marketing and communications industry worldwide, clients are demanding hard answers on returns on their investment, they want to know what they are getting for their money, they want to know whether all of their outreach is actually working or not.

Analytics and measurement have come to the forefront of measuring success and validating success. Our region is making good steps in the right direction when it comes to that, but we’re not where we need to be yet. The measurement summit is another step in the right direction, in helping clients and agencies alike, implement best practice.

There is a huge amount of content out there to keep on top of and its growing exponentially, not only on social media but in broadcast as well, in the last five years alone we have seen over 300 new TV stations go live in the region. The route to getting the best returns on your investment, will be down to one’s methodology. How to get the most accurate meaning out of that big data. The way to do that will be to avoid being stuck to counts, amounts and quantitative data and more towards qualitative and insightful information. That’s what I would describe as best practice.

What do you think of the media community in the UAE?

Vibrant and resilient, despite the slowdown in the regional economy as a result of the drop in oil prices. Spending on media has generally gone down and we know in advertising for example, many people are being laid off, companies are shrinking, budgets are diminishing, but in the Dubai community or the UAE media community, I think you still find a growing and vibrant sector. Online and social media has provided journalism with a huge boost. There is a lot more content going out to a lot more readers. Even traditional media such as TV and print remains strong. So on the journalism front, there is more media consumption, however that’s not necessarily translating into money.

In terms of advertising I think that part of the industry is under stress, but you still find a lot of good creative work and high quality people coming in. I think everyone is waiting for the economy to turn a corner and see spending at a more sustainable level—that will probably come in 2018.

As for PR and communications, that industry has been going steady and is doing fairly well. You have the major PR companies continuing to dominate the market, especially on strategic advisory, but you have a lot of low cost players who focus mostly on media relations and they provide options for those who don’t have the budgets for the more strategic council. Overall it remains positive; still vibrant, lots of opportunity and good people around.

How do you find the PR industry differs in Dubai to elsewhere in the world?

It’s a smaller industry because we’re a smaller region, where PR Budgets are relatively small. It’s a younger industry, not just in terms of when it was established, but also in terms of the age of those who are contributing, as a lot of the old time founders of the industry have left the region or retired. It’s an industry that has an overall good sense of best practice and is getting better at implementing it, but we have a way to go before the level of our practice is equal to that in other parts of the world. For example, in media relations, this part of the world (UAE) is as good as any other part of the world with great relationships with the media professionals and journalists, but when it comes to advising a company on how to go public, the number of people who are qualified here are much fewer, than you would find in somewhere like London.

Did you face any challenges in establishing the event in the Middle East?

Not at all, we’ve seen a lot of interest. Not just from the registered attendees, but the speakers too. They are keen to promote a more accurate way of measuring PR and to validate its applications and impact.

What should PR Professionals expect to take away from the event?
A healthy dialogue about best practice measurement. To meet and engage with industry peers with a shared interest in raising the benchmark of the PR industry. Ideally the lessons learned will reflect in their thought process when they return to the office or when they next meet with their clients to discuss performance. Also, to provide knowledge and understanding of the methodology and tools to translate data to meaning as well as to push the industry to interpret and apply media intelligence effectively to support decision-making.

What does the future hold for the PR Measurement Summit?
Since we have held this summit at other international locations in the past, we may consider a venue outside of Dubai next year. We will however continue to hold it at regular intervals, but we’ll listen to our clients and attendees’ feedback to ensure the events remain engaging and relevant to their needs too. Above all the Summit is about elevating knowledge, understanding and implementation of best practice PR measurement. We’ll continue to deliver and engage with the PR industry across different nations on that premise and build insights from a global perspective.

Five Minute Focus – Wall

Team TMN talks to Mansoor Bhatti and Faisal Shah, Co-Founders of Things By People, to find out about their creative agency as well as their revolutionary new interactive magazine, Wall (@tbpwall)…

Tell us a bit about Things By People and Wall magazine?
Things by People is a full-service creative fashion agency. We partnered up to start the agency in order to bring and curate locally based and international artists from the fashion industry to the UAE as a way to improve the overall quality of creative work here. We do this by keeping our artists’ desire to create at the core of the business.

Wall magazine is the first Instagram-designed moving image magazine in the world, which we developed in order to promote our artists’ work.

Tell us about the concept behind Wall
Wall was designed to showcase the work of Things By People, as well as the artists we represent. It was designed to break the ordinary thinking when it comes to browsing photography on Instagram.

What made you decide to launch the magazine?
Just like everything else we have done, we wanted to make a difference through our Instagram page. We were bored of the existing format, so we challenged ourselves to create something new. We thought, why don’t we make our Instagram more fun?

The concept all stemmed from observing how Instagram works. The social media platform itself is simply a wall of photos, so we took our observations and came up with the idea to turn our wall of photos into an interactive magazine, and so @tbpwall came to be.

What made you choose Instagram as the platform on which to launch Wall?
Instagram is used heavily within the fashion industry – much more than other platforms, such as Facebook. As most of Things By People’s creative work is visual – photos and videos – there is no other place that can express our vision in a better way.

What does Wall offer, content-wise, that is different from other online platforms?
A new experience, as Wall is quick to use and creates an immediate impression. It’s also highly interactive and a lot more fun to view than traditional content in print or online publications.

Who is your target audience?
Anyone interested in fashion or art. Or people who simply want to discover something new!

Will you be working with a dedicated editorial team, or are there opportunities for freelancers?
We are always up for collaborations with different artists or freelancers. However, we only represent artists on an exclusive basis.

How can PRs and brands get involved in the magazine?
Branded Wall issues are up for grabs. Wall is new but it has a growing following from the core fashion industry, and new campaigns, advertorials or even product launches (related to beauty or fashion) can be featured in the magazine. However, to maintain the high quality of Wall, we do insist on curating its content.

How do you see Things By People / Wall evolving in the future?
We keep a tight eye on technology and its benefits. In the immediate future, we will be looking into creating versions for Snapchat and other platforms…

Five minute focus – Distripress

TMN catch up with Tracy Jones, Managing Director of Distripress, to find out about the upcoming 61st Distripress Congress event, being hosted from Monday, October 3, 2016 until Thursday, October 6, 2016…

What is Distripress?
Distripress is an association for the promotion of the global circulation of the press. We are a non-political and non-profit association of companies and individuals of repute, engaged in the national and international circulation of publications such as; newspapers, magazines, periodicals and paperback books. Our members include publishers, printers, distributors, retailers and other ancillary service providers. Distripress is registered as an association in Zurich and subject to Swiss law. We celebrated our 60th anniversary at our congress in Brussels in 2015.

Tell us a bit about the Distripress Congress?
Each year in September or October, Distripress hosts a congress that brings the global press distribution industry together. The event starts with a half-day forum, during which guest speakers and panellists deliver insightful updates from across the globe. Following the forum, the EXPO and business meeting areas open and provide the main focus for the rest of the event. Member companies can meet existing and new clients, as well as service providers, across the three days. These meetings are an invaluable and efficient way to share business updates and most member companies will have schedules with more than 30 meetings. The EXPO area is open to member and non-member companies and provides an excellent environment from which to promote products and services to potential new contacts.

The social scene at Distripress Congress is also very important. We host a welcome reception on the first evening which is an occasion for friends and colleagues, old as well as new, to mingle in a relaxed environment. In Dubai, this event will be held at the Armani Pavilion from 7.30pm on Monday, October 3.

Where did the concept for the congress originate?
At the time of its foundation in 1955, Distripress counted 16 member companies in 13 countries – today there are more than 275 member companies in over 70 countries. The association set out to be global and hosting an event every year in a different location allowing members to meet and connect was a fundamental element of this initial concept.

Why should members of the media get involved with Distripress?
This event presents a great opportunity for local, non-member companies in the region, who are engaged in the press – or in media in general – to join Distripress members. We will be holding a forum on the morning of October 3, at which senior industry speakers will focus their presentations on the topic of innovation in the supply chain. There is the chance to network with members over lunch and explore the EXPO area, which we hope will inspire new ideas and initiatives. In the evening, the welcome reception held at the Armani Pavilion delivers a fantastic social environment for further networking.   

What do you think makes an event such as the Distripress Congress particularly relevant to the Middle Eastern community?
This is the first time Distripress has held its annual congress in the Gulf. There is a buoyant publishing industry in the region and we have many members from the area. However, we hope that by bringing the event to Dubai, more local companies will be encouraged to come along and find out more about what we have to offer, as well as to learn from our international speakers and members, who are travelling to the region to offer their unique insights into the media industry.

How have you marketed the event since its launch?
As a member based association we do not actively market our annual congress event beyond our website and direct communication via our member database. However, Dubai is a new congress location for us and therefore we want to take this opportunity to encourage local non-members to join us and get involved. We have a number of high profile senior managers from the industry scheduled to speak at the Forum.

How can non-Distripress members get involved in the congress?
We have created an ‘L’ Card specifically to allow non-members to join us on the first day of the event, Monday, October 3, at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The ‘L’ Card is priced incredibly reasonably, at USD 360, and gives attendees access to the forum, the EXPO area and the welcome reception in the Armani Pavilion. If you’re interested in purchasing an ‘L’ card, please don’t hesitate to contact our Congress Coordinator, Anna Roca at

What can local attendees of the congress expect to take away from the event?
This is a great opportunity to meet new international contacts publishers, distributors, retailers and ancillary service providers – all of whom are actively engaged in the promotion of press distribution. Each element of the congress offers attendees different focuses within their industry, as well as fantastic opportunities to network.

Additional to the congress, we have developed the Distripress Circulation Monitor – which is a survey of member companies that provides quality insight into the performance of the global market for press distribution. Highlights from the report will be presented at the forum by Jim Bilton from Wessenden Marketing, UK, which will allow attendees even greater insight into their industry performance.

What does the future hold for Distripress and the Distripress Congress?
Distripress is a long established and highly regarded association. Many of our member delegates have attended 25 or more congress events and in 2017 we will hold our 62nd congress in Lisbon.

Distripress will continue to evolve to meet the needs of its members – existing and new. The congress will remain a ‘must attend’ event offering an international press fair and a forum platform for fresh perspectives on media developments from other industries. The quality and content of the EXPO will reflect Distripress’ ambitions with more products and innovation being showcased. We also look forward to welcoming new members to the Distripress family.