In The Hot Seat – Briar Prestidge

Team TMN chat with Briar Prestidge, Executive Director, Briar Prestidge International, who talks about her current role and offers her thoughts on the PR industry in the Middle East.

Name: Briar Prestidge

Nationality: New Zealand – yes, I’m a ‘Kiwi!’

Current job title: Executive Director of Briar Prestidge International – branding, marketing and reputation management, and Executive Director of Deals in High Heels – events and media.

When did you first arrive in Dubai? Start of 2017

Where did you work prior? I have a background in sales, executive headhunting, digital marketing and branding, and I’ve worked in London, NYC, Melbourne and Auckland.

What were your first impressions of the digital marketing industry in the Middle East? There is a shortage of qualified and experienced digital marketers which is often reflected in the work.

Has your opinion changed much? No

Tell us about your current role… As head of Briar Prestidge International, I am in charge of innovative brand and marketing strategies to build the profiles and reputations of high-profile people and brands.

What challenges do you face? Competing against other agencies is always a challenge. Often prospects will explain what another agency has recommended for them and it’s often the wrong service which would be a waste of their resources. Educating clients is key.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job? The value we provide – building a reputation is a unique recipe for each client we work with. We have the creative/technical expertise and global relationships to do this. We are also currently working on some exciting projects, including an Amazon Prime global TV Series called ‘The Movement,’ have just launched a regional podcast show called ‘Business is Personal’ for one of our clients and we are currently leading an in-house series called ‘Business Quickfire – The Great Mind Series’ – we have global leaders partaking to give their ‘one-minute’ piece of advice.

How has clients’ expectations in today’s digital community influenced PR and marketing in the UAE? CEOs and leaders are now waking up in the morning and checking their social media – some want the same reputation and leverage that they have offline, ONLINE. When executed right, digital ‘Executive Branding’ and online PR strategies can have significant impact on business’ ROI, but should still be integrated with traditional PR, such as publications and speaking engagements.

How has social media in the region evolved to become an integrated part of the digital marketing industry? Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay and 50% of our personal brand now resides online. LinkedIn especially, can be a lucrative platform to get your message out there – the algorithm is very free and it is where Instagram and Facebook were 5 or so years ago.

Your customers and potential prospects also expect to see you on social media – there is a perception that you aren’t ‘established’ if you’re not, and it’s been researched that people perceive the quality of content reflects the quality of your service or product.

What do you think of PR ethics in the industry today? I see many PR agencies, quite literally, ‘spraying’ out press releases – wouldn’t it be more effective to have a targeted approach? Through our sister business, media and events platform ‘Deals in High Heels,’ we even receive press releases on construction… how is that even relevant?!

Describe yourself in five words… Driven, analytical, learner, approachable, funny.

Who inspires you? Other entrepreneurs who have built companies off the back of hard work and dedication.

What’s your most overused saying? Fab, cool.

Five things you can’t live without? Apple Airpods and iPhone (hey I’m in the digital space), a good book, heels (haha), my community.

If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing? Designing my corporate fashion and sunglasses label, Head of Business Development or a writer.

What’s your favourite form of media? I’m torn between old school editorial and high-quality video in a show style format.

What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a career in marketing in the UAE? Proactively drive your career – for me, marketing started as a ‘side hustle.’ Qualify in digital, keep up with the latest trends, have the guts to try new and creative things, build solid relationships and always be thinking of the bigger picture.