In The Hot Seat – Victor King

Team TMN chat with Victor King, Founder and CEO, Absolute Communications Group, who talks about his current role and offers his thoughts on the PR industry in the Middle East.

Name: Victor King

Age: 42

Nationality: Indian

Current job title: Founder and CEO of Absolute Communications Group

When did you first arrive in Dubai? 1999

Where did you work prior? I was working as a PR Account Director with a boutique PR firm based out of DMC. Along with that, I was also working as an independent PR and Communications consultant with a few Dubai based organisations.

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

When I came to Dubai, my first observation about the PR industry was that the benefits of using a PR agency’s services were only accessible to the large organisations and the much deserving SME sector was utterly neglected and left out as they perceived it to be an expensive affair to have a PR agency onboard. This is where I saw a window of opportunity and founded Absolute Communications to help small and medium-sized companies, and startups to get their share of PR and Communications advisory, without burning a hole in their pockets.

Moreover, I also noticed that the agencies were asked to majorly focus on increasing the number of media clippings for the enterprises, and the consulting element was completely missing from the whole equation.

Has your opinion changed much?

The PR industry has evolved substantially in the last few years. With the financial crisis resulting in a lot of publications and media outlets shutting shop or moving away from tradition, towards digital platforms, those agencies which were solely focused on a single vertical or those who only sustained their business due to the number of media clips materialised by them were rendered defunct.

This has presented an opportunity for small and medium sized agencies to prove their potential and prompted the larger agencies to evolve into fluid communication strategies than just focusing on media relations.

Tell us about your current role…

My current role is to focus on the overall growth of Absolute Communications Group in the UAE as well as in international markets. I also focus on creating new service offerings to our clients and developing new product and service modules, which can facilitate the growth of Absolute Communications and help our existing and new clients with integrated marketing and communications solutions.

In 2016, along with rebranding Absolute Communications, we also opened our first international office in India. What started out as a one-person operation out of a living room in 2011, now has offices in Dubai and India, with a plan to open two more offices in India already in the pipeline. This will enable us to establish our footprint in the Indian subcontinent.

Around the same time, we also launched Absolute Digital, a vertical offering digital and social media services to our clients which has now expanded even further to provide web and app development services as well.

What challenges do you face?

Cash flow remains one of the major challenges that we face till date. Even the financial system is not on our side as it is designed to help SMEs that are product driven, making it more difficult for service driven startups like ours. Moreover, the policies only allow financial assistance to companies with over 5million turnover, which, for a consulting business is very difficult to achieve especially when we are just about seven years old.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Seeing our clients grow and seeing the kind of trust they place in ACG team; seeing the team enjoying their work while they deliver excellence, and seeing the industry grow together as a whole.

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

Thanks to the digital revolution, clients are more informed and have a much clearer vision of what they want to achieve as a part of their corporate objectives. This has helped PR and MarCom professionals understand and plan their strategies and align them with these objectives in a more efficient way.

However, this has also created a need for the agencies and the industry professionals to continuously learn and evolve in their operations, service offerings and integration plans.

Clients expect much more than just media relations and messaging strategies from agencies, they expect the agencies to play an advisory role, which can contribute towards their long-term growth.

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

Social Media was always a part of the PR industry, it was just positioned separately because of the traditional media relations centric approach.

Over last few years, both agencies and clients alike, are looking at a more communications-centric approach and social media comes in as an integral part of digital communications as it works effectively with traditional and digital PR and communications plans.

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

That’s a sensitive one. The best answer I can think of comes from the core belief system of Absolute Communications. Every member of Absolute is made to understand the same thing, “Align yourself with the growth of the client, have a proactive approach and deliver excellent results.” This in return will drive the growth of both the client and the agency.

In today’s fickle-minded ways of working, agencies who have strong ethics and value ecosystems are the ones who are able to retain clients and acquire new ones. These agencies not just sustain themselves, but even manage to grow in a difficult financial climate, like the one businesses have been witnessing in the region since the last 12-18 months.

Describe yourself in five words

Inspire, learn, communicate, empathize and lead by example are a few words that define me

Who inspires you?

Happiness and growth

What’s your most overused saying?

You grow, I grow

Five things you can’t live without?

My wife and kids, Absolute Family, Single Malts, Cigars and the smiles all these bring to me

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

I would be backpacking somewhere in the Far East. My earlier travels to the region have only left me yearning to go back and explore more.

What’s your favorite form of media?


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

Remember the conventional basics – please remember that PR stands for Public Relations and not Press Releases, and in Public Relations, always remember to keep “Relations” before all other things while developing or executing a PR and Communications plan – traditional and digital alike.

This industry is all about networking and relationships, for the relationships you build will take you a long way and make people want to keep coming back to you. Your PR career will not be anything more than ordinary if the content and strategies you create are not held tightly in place by the relationships you forge and nurture.

EDGAR Middle East relaunches online platform 

EDGAR Middle East has announced the relaunch of its online platform, The men’s luxury lifestyle magazine will continue to provide daily content on all things people have come to recognise about the brand with Rob Chilton overseeing the brand as Editor.

“From day one I’ve tried to make EDGAR an accessible, unpretentious and stylish magazine for every man, whether they’re interested in the latest Aston Martin, Dubai’s hottest restaurant opening, Louis Vuitton’s freshest sneaker, Berlin’s coolest boutique hotel, or the new chronograph from Audemars Piguet,” says Rob Chilton, Editor, “EDGAR will continue to cover all the bases for men, delivering great stories from fantastic writers around the world, superb photography and interviews with inspiring men who have a story to tell.”

Initiative MENA appoints new Regional Business Director 

Global media agency, Initiative MENA has appointed Ghayath Sioufi to the role of Regional Business Director. With over 18 years of experience working across various MENA markets, Ghayath worked with companies such as Starcom, du, Nawras and Mindshare. In his new role, Ghayath will serve key accounts and be responsible for driving the agency’s regional programmes across the MENA region.

“I am excited to have joined Initiative MENA in these interesting times of transformational changes in our industry,” says Ghayath. “I am sure that together with the team we will be able to lead this change in the market and confirm our role as key business and growth partner to our clients.”

The Sustainabilist launches online platform 

UAE-based monthly magazine, The Sustainabilist launches its online platform. Launched one year ago, the print magazine has been a voice on sustainable issues for private and public sectors while also being the official sustainability magazine at the Water, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition (WETEX). The new online medium offers the latest news, interviews and editorial features across all sustainable topics and aims to work as a way to help connect the public to the media to contribute their own stories and ideas to the editor.

“As the most widely read green economy publication in the region, The Sustainablist is designed to educate, stimulate and encourage readers to invest in a sustainable future,” says Ivano Iannelli, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Carbon. “Launching our online platform will ensure that we reach even more readers across the private and public sector, as well as engaging with the public on key sustainability issues that affect us all, and the solutions available to help us live a greener life.”

Not A Cliché launches in the UAE 

New communications agency, Not A Cliché launches in the UAE. Founded by Duha Shabib, the agency aims to not only provide solutions but push the limits and boundaries of obtainable results. The agency will focus on providing public relations, social media, creative advertising and digital marketing.

“Understanding the importance of a 360-degree approach to communications, I wanted to create a hybrid agency providing the perks and tailor-made services that come with an independent and creative foundation yet achieve international results and exceed expectations,” says Duha Shabib, Founder and Managing Director, Not A Cliché. “We believe one team is a strong team and joining forces with clients enables us to not only dream big but achieve bigger.”

Omar Darwish, CEO, Not A Cliché continues, “Being part of a fast-paced industry, our main aim is to always set trends. Our team has extensive expertise in the region and we believe we are equipped to bring creativity to what we are trying to achieve.”

M&C Saatchi UAE welcomes new Head of Social Media 

Global communications agency, M&C Saatchi UAE has appointed Mitch Williams to the role of Head of Social Media. With over five years of experience in social media branding, Mitch previously worked with Create Media Group where he held the role of Social Media Director and most recently worked with Serviceplan Middle East where he also held the role of Social Media Director. In his new role, he will set up and drive the digital and social media offering for the agency across all parallels of digital but initially focusing on content strategy development and creation.

“I have always been inspired by the great work done by M&C Saatchi both locally and globally, and now I have the opportunity to not only work within the agency but help build their digital offering,” says Mitch.

ASDA’A BCW wins 28 awards at International Business Awards 

Dubai-based PR agency, ASDA’A Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW) has received a total of twenty eight awards at the International Business Awards that took place on October 20, 2018 at the InterContinental London Park Lane Hotel. The agency secured five gold, ten silver and twelve bronze medals in the PR category, including a gold for PR Agency of the Year for the Middle East region and a special award for Most Honoured Public Relations Agency.

“This year has been one of change and growth for us as an agency, both regionally and globally,” says Sunil John, Founder, ASDA’A BCW. “What remains consistent throughout is our endeavour to raise the bar of excellence within our industry. Our focus has always been on delivering the highest quality for our clients, and we’re delighted to have our team’s fantastic work and dedication recognised at such an esteemed international platform.”

Pinpoint Media Group welcomes Gareth Kurt Warren 

Pinpoint Media Group has appointed Gareth Kurt Warren to the role of Head of Digital Strategy. With over ten years of experience in regional PR and journalism, Gareth previously worked with where he held the role of Launch Editor and most recently worked with Gulf News Guides where he held the role of Editor. In his new role, he will oversee the digital and social growth of magazines under the agency including Altitudes, Yachts Middle East, Debonair, Watch 1010 and La Femme, while also standing in as the Acting Digital Editor

“EDGAR is one of the oldest, most trusted and dependable men’s magazine in the region,” says Gareth. “It has had incredible editors and writers since its launch and it’s amazing to contribute to the brand’s growth. PPMG have a collection of amazing brands, well-respected print titles, and passionate Editors. Taking these brands to the next level, online, is going to be fun and quite exciting.”