Open Letters – From the desk of Melinda Mesiano

Account Director at M&C Saatchi, and NextGen Committee Member

22 June 2021

Dear Rookie Mel,

You’re growing up so fast and learning so quickly! You’re ambitious, yet wary; don’t worry – you’ll be bold and brave soon enough.

Spoiler alert: in the next couple of years, you’ll finish your degree and leave your part-time waitressing jobs behind. You’ll set your sights on the big wide world and move to Dubai and it will be one of the best decisions of your life (and will continue to be even into your thirties).

You’ll share a bedroom and house with strangers while you’re trying to find your feet. You’ll meet lots of people, apply for lots of jobs and feel a little lost for a while, but, eventually, you’ll get your first PR job and find your clique. It won’t always feel easy, but every high and low will teach you something.

After about one year of living in Dubai, you’ll realise that you’ve found yourself. Not the ‘you’ that you were at school, or the versions of ‘you’ that you tried to be over the years having been influenced by other people, but the ‘you’ that you were always destined to become. You’ll feel it in your bones and it will give you the most overwhelming feeling of certainty that you’ll wonder how it’s taken twenty-something years to get to this point.

The ‘you’ you will be happy, inspired, and, most importantly, help you to uncover your most intrinsic values. Once you figure them out, hold on to them tight and never let them waver. Life will test you and your ability to stay true to these values, but ignoring them will make you uneasy and only sticking to them will keep you on the right path.

Balancing time, emotions, responsibilities, work and friends – both physically and mentally – will be your biggest battle. Don’t take on too much or spread yourself too thin. It’s in these moments that you may feel like you’ve lost yourself. Acknowledge when you feel like you’re taking on too much. You’ll know when, as you’ll have a short temper and become uncharacteristically emotional. For a while, you’ll think that’s just who you are now, but you’ll come to learn that it’s actually burnout and that you just need a break. You’ll try to push through for fear of being perceived as selfish for not putting others first, but you’ll eventually learn that looking after your physical and mental self is not selfish – it’s essential for your survival. Take a step back.

You’ll still struggle with this balance and the misplaced feeling of ‘selfishness’ as you enter your thirties, but you’ll keep working on it and get better. The important people and things will still be there once you’re rested and recentred, and that knowledge will help you on your journey.

Your path will see you have the chance to work with incredible global brands and learn from even more incredible women. They’ll teach you phrases like “fail forward”, where mistakes are ok as long as you learn from them, something that a former client, the revered Amanda Turnbull, will say to you in your late twenties. I’m telling you now though, as it’s important and I want to give you a head start. Your fearless leader and friend, Amy Brill, will share her grandmother’s wisdom, “what’s for you won’t go past you”, and you’ll think about this every day as you navigate life and your career and ponder the choices you’ve made, and are yet to make.

You’ll carry these with you in your mind as you take on challenges – personal and professional – and your ambition will keep propelling you forward. Never let your ambition fade, but don’t let it be your demise. Don’t take on too much or spread yourself too thin. Life will be full of clients, pitches, laughter, stressors, overwhelming empathy, budgets, and the highs and lows of everyone around you.

Forgive yourself for learning and growing; hurdles and stumbles are essential building blocks to your best future and not something to condemn yourself for.

Little Mel won’t always be the kindest to Future Mel, but Future Mel will forgive you, so keep taking chances and following your instinct – it’s never let you down before.

You got this! Love from Future Mel x

PS. One day you’ll see an adorable puppy in a shelter and know in your heart that he’s meant to be yours. You’ll toy with whether you should adopt him or not. I’ll save you some time – do it! He’ll challenge you more than anything else, but he’ll also teach you to be more patient, caring and understanding, and will be the most adorable little sidekick you could ever imagine.

In March 2020, COVID-19 truly made its mark as a global pandemic, one that quickly evolved with no evident end in sight. The impact on businesses was unparalleled and for many retailers who were forced to close, the shift to digital became inevitable – it became the only outlet through which they could try to address the harm that COVID had caused.

MG Motor responded immediately to this unparalleled level of uncertainty, and in mere weeks, as opposed to what would have once been expected to have taken months, the brand rapidly revamped its website to capitalize on the services it had to offer consumers who were seeking peace of mind during the pandemic.

It was estimated that in 2020, 11 million users were visiting our website and 80% of these users were using mobile devices. MG had to capitalize on this tidal wave of online activity by meeting its young and tech-savvy consumers where they were. As a result, our online offers, services and products were developed even further and a new e-commerce shopping experience was introduced.

With a mission to keep interest levels high and convert consumers into super-fans, MG worked closely with its distributors to provide customers with a safe way to buy their desired MG car online, and to have it delivered to their doorstep without any hassle.

The new MG Motor Middle East website received over 1.3 Million visits on the e-commerce platform since its launch in April 2020, and over 7,000 enquiries relating to either booking or reserving a MG car online. The majority of the enquiries came from either Google/Organic searches, or through social and other digital mediums. These consumers were particularly interested in MG’s SUV line-up, especially the 7-seater flagship SUV, the MG RX8.

The new e-commerce platform allows customers to select their specific choice of MG car, reserve it, structure a financial payment plan and benefit from special online pricing offers.

To maximise the impact of the e-commerce platform further, MG’s distributors in the GCC offered customers the opportunity to win back the value of their car if they bought it between April 1st and May 31st. Despite the challenging market conditions caused by the pandemic, MG’s sales continued to grow at a remarkable rate and the brand’s outstanding performance has seen its market share grow from an average of 2.5% in 2020 to an average of 3.6% in 2021.

MG Motor Middle East will continue to offer customers exclusive and authentic experiences, be it on the website, through social media content and even through tactical offers in line with its efforts to optimise its digital-first approach.

 

Lara Sous
Public Relations & Social Media Manager

SAIC Motor Middle East FZE

Open Letters – From the desk of Suzanne Kanianthra

Senior Account Director at Golin MENA and NextGen Vice-Chair

6th June, 2021

Dear 20-year-old Suzanne,

In the rather grand scheme of things, where you are right now is just a small chapter.

Jumping into the workforce in your 20’s is going to be fun, exciting, challenging, scary and everything in between. All while figuring out how to be an adult!

Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed when you don’t have all of the answers. Make the time to figure out your long-term career goals, then work towards it and nurture the discipline – to realize them. Your journey may or may not always go according to the five-year and ten-year plans you created. But it will give you a clear set of goals to measure your trajectory against. Don’t be disheartened – people evolve, and plans change.

Your career as a communications professional has been guided by a philosophy – ‘Stay curious to stay relevant’. This means that you are always learning and asking a lot of questions – whether to develop your skillset or understand your client’s objectives better. Don’t be afraid to ask a question, how else, will you learn, grow and consistently deliver the very best work to your clients.

Flash-forward to now. It’s 2021, and we are in the middle of a global pandemic. Lives have been disrupted, the way we work is changing and it has even altered how we engage in our closest relationships.

This brings me to my next point – in times of uncertainty, your reputation is your strongest asset. You cannot control uncertainty but you can control how you respond to it. Many a time, I’ve found inspiration in Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “If,” especially in these lines:

“If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too …”

You will relate to this poem so many times along your journey. It speaks to determination, self-belief, honor and adaptability. These are values that will give you the strength to withstand any storm and respond to it with grace.

As a communications professional, you have a responsibility towards your audience, your employer and your profession. You have the power to motivate people to take a stand, consider an argument, or purchase a product. That is why, it is important to always do your best to make informed choices. It is challenging, requires a high level of self-discipline and determination, but you can absolutely achieve it!

If there is one thing that 2020 taught me, it is that challenges are opportunities dressed badly!

Don’t be afraid! Keep up your spirit, engage with hurdles and move forward with confidence! These are the moments that will shape you forever!

All my love,

Your (wiser) future self

By Mai Elsayed, NextGen MENA Committee member, Clinical Hypnotherapist with Psychotherapy Skills, Internationally Published Author and PR Manager at Seven Media

Stop and think for a moment – you spend every breathing minute of your life making decisions. These decisions are based on the beliefs that you hold dear to your heart. The choice you make to spend your time and energy on one activity over another reflects what your core values are. There is no doubt that the circumstances caused by the pandemic are giving us an ample amount of time to sit with ourselves and re-assess our values. There are so many changes happening in the way we live and work, which could also require us to revise our goals to become our ideal self. These goals should be in line with our values, while at the same time, being realistic with the conditions at hand.

Let’s define what values are

Psychologists define values as the “fundamental attitudes guiding our mental processes and behaviour”. These are the same attitudes and beliefs that give meaning and purpose to our life. When we know what our values are, we can easily implement changes to our daily routine and align our activities to our core morals. This will help us live a more authentic life by being true to who we really are. In fact, there are two main types of values that human beings live by. The first type falls under the category of the ‘moving towards’ values. These are the values that motivate us to do the things that are emotionally gratifying and pleasurable. On the other hand, the ‘moving away’ category of values affect our decision-making process, driving us to avoid feeling negative emotions.

The importance of self-concept

As children, we grow up to develop our self-concept, a perception of our identity as individuals. This entails a definition of who we are, what we believe in, what we want to achieve in life etc. Our values shape the impressions we hold for our ideal self and outline who we want to be. Often, we fall into the psychological discomfort of cognitive dissonance when our ideal self (the person we are) does not overlap with the identity that we want to have (ideal self). These two schemas of the self never stay constant. With time, challenges and circumstances, our beliefs of how our ideal self should look like and behave, change. This does not necessarily mean that our values change as well. Instead, our mind tends to give importance to and glorify certain values – especially ones from the ‘moving away’ category.

However, we start to experience psychological distress when we live in conflict with our core values. Having a huge discrepancy between who we are and who we aspire to be is one of the ways we can get out of alignment with our core values. To ease the pain of cognitive dissonance, one needs to close the gap between the real and ideal selves. This can be done by either lowering the standards that you have set for your ideal self or working on your values to bring the qualities of the real self closer to the ideal one.

Find out what your core values are

Our values can be described as the catalogue by which we choose to live our lives. Our past experiences, to a large extent, shape these values, and how we choose to implement them in our day-to-day activities. The first step to living an aligned life is to know the psychological rules by which you choose to live by. Identifying what your core values are will not only help you live a more authentic life but will also help you easily make decisions, especially during times of crisis.  In addition, having clarity into your own core values will help you identify areas of your life that need more attention and allow you to understand what you should prioritize in the future.

A technique used by cognitive behavioural therapists called ‘Values Clarification’ can be very useful in helping you identify your value system.  This approach is made up of five simple steps that you can practice in the comfort of your home. All you need is your mind, a piece of paper and a pen.

  • Define yourself

Get in a one-on-one conversation with yourself and try to find out what your life stands for. Ask yourself questions such as: What are the qualities that you have as a person? What are the qualities that you wish to develop and why?

  • Define what drives you in the different aspects of your life.

In this section, dissect the different aspects of your life based on your relationships, school/career, leisure, health, finances, and personal growth. Some of the questions that you should explore include: What type of relationships do you want to bring to your life and why? What qualities would you like to exhibit at work/school? What is your relationship with yourself like?

  • Identify what drives or triggers your emotions

Compile a list of actions or situations that could trigger a positive or negative response from you. These reactions most likely link to a core value that you hold dear to your heart. Once you identify what value your response could be linked to, write it down and explore it further.

  • Practice mindfulness

Notice the values that you practice on a routine basis. When you find yourself having an impulsive reaction, stop for a second and think about why you are behaving the way that you are. Write your thoughts down and try to find your thinking pattern and what values it could represent.

  • Find out where you are

There is always room for improving yourself and enhancing your life. Once you have implemented the first four steps, compare the values you have and the behaviour you exhibit in your current time to the values and behaviours of the person you aspire to be. At this stage, you can choose to lower the expectations you set for your ideal self or change the perception and attitude of your real self so they both meet at a common ground.

 

The Musts of Mental Health

“It seems we’ve entered an era of overwhelmed.” – David Rock.

 

We’re living in a time where plethora of information is at the tip of our fingers and hustle culture is hyped up. Amidst the work and the multi-tasking, we forget to take care of the most important thing: our wellbeing.

With May being ‘mental health awareness month’, PRCA collaborated with Lighthouse Arabia to provide an insightful session on ‘the musts of mental health’. Dr Saliha, Clinical Psychologist and Managing Director of Light House Arabia shared practical ways individuals can improve their mental health and wellbeing in their daily lives.

 

Here are the seven ‘must haves’ for mental health:

 

Sleep time: Dr Saliha states, “If you’re having caffeine after 11 AM, you can do all kinds of things, but it won’t work to get deep restorative sleep.” Sleep is the most vital activity for your mind, body, memory, and mental health. With the right amount of sleep, individuals function their best and it helps the brain to consolidate, be creative and learn. Matthew Walker, professor of Neuroscience and Phycology at UC Berkley, stated that we are at a “catastrophic sleep epidemic” and anything less than 7 hours is sleep deprivation, which can be more deadly than food deprivation. Hence, if one deprives themselves of sleep for days, the consequences can be lethal. To acquire deep restorative sleep, one must sleep from 10 pm to 5 am. In the different stages of sleep, deep restorative sleep comes in the third stage and fourth stage where the body heals and “the magic happens”, such as homeostatic restoration, tissue repair, memory processing etc. If you’re hitting that snooze button, you’re not getting good sleep, so it’s time to change things around!

 

Physical time: Dr Saliha explains that exercise is one of the most important ‘must-haves’ of wellbeing. Exercise not only increases our brain plasticity, but it releases good chemicals. She further explains that our body was not made to sit as much as it sits, and it can lead to all sorts of difficulties in the body and mind.

Furthermore, we find that anxiety is fueled by uncertainty and powerlessness and hence, when we set short manageable exercise goals for ourselves, we feel in control of our body reducing anxiety. Similarly, it also helps in alleviating depression and symptoms of stress. Exercise is one of the “keystone habits” to implement which has a ripple effect on our entire lives, including our mental health. Whether it’s a full-blown workout or a quick 20-minute brisk walk, “the brain lights up like a Christmas tree” which then helps our executive functioning and makes us sharper. Understandably, we may not have motivation or energy for it, but Dr Saliha explains that we shouldn’t wait for motivation to show up, instead, we have to start small and build up.

 

Focus time: Focus and mindfulness go hand in hand, “when you focus on your breath, you are training the muscle in your brain to stay steady,” Dr Saliha explains. To focus is to pay close attention, and that means, no multitasking. However, one thing we can do to increase our focus is to “turn off our notifications” and focus entirely on the task at hand. Dr Saliha also suggests using the Pomodoro method to focus for 20-40 minutes and take short breaks. This is also known as time-blocking and time-boxing, where one assigns periods to tasks instead of doing multiple tasks at a time. Furthermore, Dr Saliha says that “there is no such thing as multitasking.” Our brain is like a spotlight that shifts from tasks to task, and this may look like multi-tasking, but it depletes our brain and body of energy very quickly, leaving us with very few completed tasks.

 

Time in: This is all about mindfulness, reflection, and meditation. When we quietly reflect internally, focusing on sensations, images, feelings and thoughts, it helps better integrate the brain. Our brains are flooded and exhausted. Social media has caused us to be detached from our bodies, but mindfulness brings us back to our bodies and helps us feel grounded. If you want good mental health in this day and age, meditation is vital. Start with 10 seconds of focusing on your breath and build it from there.

 

Downtime: It’s not about meditation or massages, it’s about being non-focused, being awake with no specific goal and letting the mind wander. Or in other words, “intentionally having no intention”, according to Dr Saliha. When was the last time you daydreamed? Disconnecting through daydreaming for integration and insight is crucial to help relax and recharge the brain. Not only does it help in problem-solving and creativity, but also allows better decisions to be made with increasing insight.

 

Playtime: A few years ago, Dr Saliha attended one of the top consulting firm’s conferences. The CEO of Lego was standing in front of a room filled with consultants and asked them to look under their seats to find a packet of Lego. He asked all of them to make something out of it. People expected a manual of what to create but all he said was, create whatever. The room began buzzing and people began to make boats, ducks, houses — whatever they could think of. He then proceeded to say that if they do not have play in their life, they cannot have creative problem-solving. Play develops flexible emotional responses to unexpected events out of our control, it keeps the brain agile and allows us to expand beyond what is familiar — helping one build new connections with the brain.

 

Connecting time: “Social support is the number one predictor of happiness,” says Dr Saliha. There is a healing power of relationships through which connecting in-person richly activates the brain circuitry. A 70-year study by Harvard concluded that people were most happy when having strong intimate confiding relationships. Social support reduces the strains experienced, mitigates perceived stressors and moderates the stressor-strain relationship. Now’s the time to sit down and think, who are my people?

 

Wellbeing plays a fundamental part in our lives and it’s our responsibility to be compassionate and take care of ourselves. Most people have misconceptions that lead them to believe only toxic environments and hard work burns them out. However, it can be one’s passion or job that take up one’s energy too. Hence, it’s imperative to focus on ourselves and use the seven must-haves mentioned to stay healthy. It’s not always easy, but with time and balance, we all will get there.

 

Many thanks to Tish Tash, one of the PRCA MENA members for making this webinar possible.

 Open Letters – From the desk of Bianca Riley

Account Director at Atteline and NextGen Chair

2nd May, 2021

 

Our industry is at a crossroads. We have the opportunity to stretch our imaginations, contemplate real progress, and shape solutions that will carry us into an equitable and sustainable future.

As one of our first actions as the newly-founded PRCA MENA NextGen Committee, this column titled ‘From the Desk of’ will have members of the PRCA write an open letter to themselves when they started their careers in public relations.

It will be an honest representation of how we move forward when we’re still nursing old habits, how can we shed the methods that brought us here, and foster the ones that will propel us forward. Naturally, as the Chair of the NextGen Arabia committee, I volunteered to go first, so here I go!

 

Dear 21-year-old Bianca,

 

This is future Bianca! I am really hesitant to write this letter because I don’t want to disturb the space-time continuum, especially as my advice to you is actually to do everything exactly the same as you’re already going to do it. You are the most trustworthy person in your life, and it’s critical to your success that you acknowledge this and trust your gut.

Firstly, and most importantly, make close friends with your colleagues. You don’t know this yet, but they’re going to be some of your closest friends later down the line. You’re going to watch them walk down the aisle at their wedding, have their first and second children, start their own businesses, and even work with them again, and you’ll be so incredibly proud every step of the way.

Secondly, form lasting relationships with your clients. In about a decade, you’ll realize there are so many opportunities to work with them again in their new roles, and if you continue to be true to your kind-hearted and hard-working nature, they’ll remember you with nothing but fondness and jump at the chance to work with you again.

The third and final thing on my list of things to talk to you about is organization. People will tease you for being hyper-focused on productivity and organization. They will mock your post-it system and your empty inbox. Take pride in these jokes. This aspect of your personality will make your life 5x easier in every way, make you 10x more trustworthy in the workplace, and will make your peers 15x more likely to trust you and your advice on how to keep on top of things, both personally and professionally. Later in your life, when you’re in a position of leadership, you will realize that this is a tough skill to teach, but if you stay diligent, you’ll be the perfect person to teach it.

You are an incredible young woman, and you are destined for greatness. But, and I can’t stress this enough, you will only achieve said greatness if you believe in yourself (cringe, I know, but I’m from the future so you have to believe me because I literally know what’s going to happen).

No need for me to wish you all the best because I know you’re going to get there.

 

Love your biggest fan,

Bianca

 

 

مجموعة نصائح من لجنة “الجيل القادم للمنطقة العربية- جمعية العلاقات العامة والاتصالات”

يمتاز قطاع العلاقات العامة في جميع أنحاء العالم بأجندة فعاليات منوّعة تجمع بين المناسبات السنوية الثابتة، والفعاليات المؤقتة والتي قد تتبدل مواعيدها في كل عام. وفي منطقة الخليج العربي عامةً وفي دولة الإمارات خاصةً، تكتسب أجندة الفعاليات السنوية طابعاً مميّزاً يجمع بين احتفالات وأعياد مختلف الجاليات التي يحتضنها المجتمع. ومن بين جميع المناسبات، يكتسب حلول شهر رمضان الكريم أهميةً مميّزة لدى الجميع، ويحتفي بحلوله جميع السكان. ويشهد الجميع خلال أيام الشهر الفضيل تغيّرات لا تتكرر بغيره من أيام العام، بدءاً من تغيّر ساعات العمل وحتى التغييرات التي تطرأ على نمط حياتهم اليومية.

ومع دخولنا أول أيام الشهر الفضيل، يقدّم أعضاء لجنة “الجيل القادم للمنطقة العربية- جمعية العلاقات العامة والاتصالات” مجموعةً من النصائح التي قد تعدّ بديهيةً للبعض، إلا أنها قد تساعد المواهب الجديدة المنضّمة للعمل في قطاعنا في التأقلم مع التغييرات التي تشهدها أيام رمضان!

! العلاقات العامة تبدأ من العلاقات الشخصية

تذكروا بأن ترسلوا تهنئةً خاصةً بحلول الشهر الكريم لجميع عملائكم وممثلي وسائل الإعلام الذين تتواصلون معهم. وفيما يعد هذا الأمر أساسياً للاحتفاء بحلول الشهر الكريم، فإنه يعدّ الفرصة المثالية لإعلام عملائكم وممثلي وسائل الإعلام بساعات عملكم، خاصةً في حال كنتم تمثلون أحد العملاء من خارج المنطقة، أو في حال تعاونكم مع بعض وسائل الإعلام الإقليمية التي قد تختلف فيها ساعات العمل عن دولة الإمارات خلال شهر رمضان!

وإلى جانب الرسائل العامة، تذّكروا بأن حلول شهر رمضان هو فرصتكم لتوطيد العلاقات مع الإعلاميين، سواءً من خلال الاتصال، أو من خلال إرسال رسالةٍ شخصية مع هديةٍ رمزية للتهنئة بالشهر الكريم.

 ! الوقت من ذهب

أبرز تحدٍ في رمضان بالنسبة لقطاع العلاقات العامة هو الوقت، فأولاً تتقلص ساعات العمل بالنسبة للشركات التي نعمل لديها، ما يعني وقتاً أقصر لإنجاز جميع المهام، إلا أن التحدي الأكبر هو تقلّص ساعات عمل وسائل الإعلام، وبالتالي لا يمكن تطبيق قاعدة إرسال المحتوى قبل الساعة الثانية ظهراً، لأنك ترسل المحتوى في هذه الحالة في الساعة الأخيرة قبل نهاية ساعات الدوام!

وفيما قد تختلف ساعات العمل بين وسيلةٍ وأخرى، فإن الوقت الأفضل لإرسال المحتوى هو قبل الساعة 12 ظهراً، خاصةً بالنسبة للصحف اليومية المطبوعة، والتي تستكمل أعدادها في ساعاتٍ مبكرة نسبياً من اليوم. وبالتالي فإن الوقت المثالي للتواصل مع الإعلاميين، سواءً لمتابعة التغطيات أو لمناقشة فرص المحتوى أو المقابلات الحصرية، تمتد ما بين الساعة 12 ظهراً وحتى 3 بعد الظهر.

المحتوى الملائم في الوقت المناسب

قبل بداية الشهر الكريم، وفي الأسبوع الأول من بدايته، يجب أن تكونوا قد استكملتم جمع أجندة المحتوى لمختلف وسائل الإعلام التي تودون حجز مكانٍ لمحتوى عملائكم فيها، بشكلٍ يمكّنكم من إرسال المحتوى بشكلٍ مستهدف، وتجنّب التوزيع العشوائي للقوائم الجاهزة.

وفيما تبدي وسائل الإعلام تردداً أكبر خارج أيام شهر رمضان لتغطية أخبار المطاعم ذات الطابع الإعلاني المباشر، يكون المحررون أكثر ترحيباً بهذا النوع من المحتوى، خلال شهر رمضان، نظراً لإقبال القرّاء للبحث عن وجهات الإفطار والسحور، خاصةً مع غياب الخيم الرمضانية لهذا العام في إطار المساعي للحد من انتشار كوفيد-19. ويستمر التوجّه الذي بدأ العام الماضي لتسليط الضوء على الوصفات المنزلية، فإن كنتم تعملون مع أحد المطاعم، تأكدوا إن كان بإمكان الشيف مساعدتكم بوصفةٍ خاصة يمكن تحضيرها منزلياً، لترسلوها لإحدى المواقع- أو حتى لتجربة تحضيرها بأنفسكم!

   ! أنت مستشار في العلاقات العامة، لا تتردد بتقديم النصيحة

في بعض الحالات، قد يندفع أحد عملائك لتنظيم فعاليةٍ ما أو إطلاق حملةٍ جديدة خلال شهر رمضان، ولكنهم قد يقعون في فخ عدم امتلاك الفهم الكافي للثقافة المحلية، وهنا يبرز دورك كمستشار خبيرٍ في المنطقة وبالجمهور المستهدف. وإن حاول العميل تنظيم حفل إطلاقٍ مشروعٍ جديد في الساعة الرابعة، لا تتردد بمعارضة القرار وتقديم النصيحة حول التوقيت الأفضل! وفي حال شعرت أن فكرة الحملة التي وضعها فريق تسويق العميل لا تتوافق مع أعراف وتقاليد المجتمع المحلي، فهي مسؤوليتك المباشرة بأن توضّح الحساسيات الثقافية لتحمي عميلك من وضع نفسه في مكانٍ يصعب الدفاع فيه عن سمعته!

وبمقابل ذلك، عليك أن تكون على درايةٍ تامة بكل الفعاليات المجتمعية التي يتم تنظيمها في السوق المستهدف، وأن تُعلم العميل بهذه المبادرات وتوضح له الفرصة المهمة والفوائد التي يمكن تحقيقها من المشاركة في مثل هذه المبادرات المجتمعية في إطار برامجهم للمسؤولية المجتمعية للشركات.

خطط بشكلٍ مسبق ومدروس

عليك أن تتأكد من أجندة فعاليات عميلك بشكلٍ مسبق قبل حلول شهر رمضان والتخطيط لهذه الفعالياتٍ بشكلٍ دقيق، مع الأخذ بعين الاعتبار بتغيّر الأوقات، ومراجعة الفعاليات الأخرى التي قد تتعارض مع الموعد المقترح لفعالية عميلك، والتي قد تعني انشغال الإعلاميين وبالتالي عدم حصولك على الحضور والتغطية الإعلامية المطلوبة.

ونظراً للاشتراطات الاحترازية بما في ذلك القيود الموضوعة على الأعداد في المطاعم، عليك التأكد من تخطيط فعاليات الإفطار والسحور بحذر والتأكد من أن قوائم المدعوين لن تتسبب بمخالفة عميلك لأيٍ من الاشتراطات الصحية المعتمدة.

 ! امنح نفسك بعض الوقت والراحة، فأنت تستحقها

مع تقلّص ساعات العمل، تذكر أن تخصص بعض الوقت لنفسك ولعائلتك، قد تود قراءة كتاب، أو ممارسة هوايةٍ ما، أو مشاهدة مسلسلٍ تلفزيوني، أو حتى النوم! وتسود أيام الشهر الفضيل روح عامة من الإيجابية بين الجميع، فتأكد من أن تعطي كل من حولك المزيد من الإيجابية!

وفيما يمتلك كاتب هذه الكلمات مقاومةً ضعيفة أمام أشهى الأطباق الرمضانية، علينا أن نتذكر دائماً الحفاظ على نمط حياةٍ نشط خلال شهر رمضان، وتجنّب قضاء ساعات طويلة بدون حركة، خاصةً بعد الإفطار. وبالطبع فإن الحفاظ على نظام غذائي متوازن بكمياتٍ معقولة هو أساس الحفاظ على صحتك خلال شهر رمضان.

Why one author is saying ‘no’ to the unempathetic challenge of International Women’s Day 2021

 Given the last twelve months, bestselling author and global empathy advocate Mimi Nicklin is saying “no” to being asked to take on anymore challenges as the International Women’s Day theme #ChooseToChallenge begins to circulate.

 The theme for International Women’s Day this year has been created with the best of intentions for a more equal and equitable world, however it is not the beliefs but the action that author, Executive Creative Director and single mum Mimi Nicklin is challenging.

“I entirely support the continued passion and goal to drive women’s role and equity in society,” says Nicklin “however I also believe it is un-empathetic to the journeys of women all around the world today to be asking us to challenge anything further than the existing daily challenges we are all already facing. As COVID-19 continues, we have seen that its impact, and its economic fallout, have had a far more regressive effect on women than our male counterparts – do we really need to be taking on anything bigger than overcoming the challenge of surviving and resetting the grips of the pandemic?”

According to McKinsey, women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to the Covid crisis than men’s jobs, and whilst women make up 39% of global employment they account for 54% of overall job losses. Almost 1 million mothers have left the workforce in the USA alone and there is a continuous slew of headlines shouting out for help:

Working moms are not okay.” “Pandemic Triples Anxiety And Depression Symptoms In New Mothers.” “Working Moms Are Reaching The Breaking Point.”

With raging mental health issues, anxiety spiraling out of control and burnout at all-time highs, Nicklin believes that asking women to take on any more challenges is disconnected and unempathetic to women everywhere.

“International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on our progress made and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women. Given the year that has passed, I think we have great amounts to celebrate in the challenges we have already overcome (and are continuing to face every day).  Should we be asking each other to do any more than that?”

After months of balancing it all – alone, from home, with children flying all around us and pets interrupting our board meetings, Nicklin believes that this International Women’s Day we should be saying #ChooseToCelebrate and not #ChooseToChallenge. “Let’s celebrate women for what they are doing, for who they have near them, for the moments they continue to endure when they realise they truly are doing it all, already.”

“This month I want to say to women everywhere: choose to empathise with yourself and with the strong women around you, for it is our survival, our tenacity and our grit that should be the ultimate celebration in March 2021” says Nicklin in closing.

Bio:

Mimi Nicklin is the internationally bestselling author of ‘Softening The Edge’ and the host of the ‘Empathy for Breakfast’ breakfast show & podcast. She is an experienced marketer and communications strategist, a well-known empathetic coach, and a contributor, advocate and content creator for the global movement to balance humanism and capitalism.

 

Mimi has spent over 15s years working across the globe with multinational and Fortune 500 clients to drive standout creative interventions that lead to business and culture change. Driven by the pursuit of bringing conscientiousness to the role and impact of ‘Regenerative Leadership’ in business and society, with a desire to make the world of work a more empathetic, valuable and sustainably healthy place to be, Mimi’s first leadership book was a bestseller before it even reached the stores.

 

Having lived and worked in London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Cape Town, Havana, Madrid, Johannesburg and Dubai, Mimi has studied humanity & culture from within across 25 global markets and her approach changes organisations from the inside out; focusing on cultural understanding alongside behavioural and mindset change.

————-

 

You can find out more about Mimi on her website www.miminicklin.com,  via Instagram, Twitter & Tiktok @miminicklin or on her show at www.empathyforbreakfast.com. Her internationally bestselling book. Softening The Edge is now available to buy on all Amazon sites globally, Waterstones, Book Depository, Borders, Kinokuniya and Virgin Megastores.

 

References:

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/29/upshot/mothers-leaving-jobs-pandemic.html

https://hbr.org/2020/09/dont-let-the-pandemic-set-back-gender-equality

 

Originally published by Campaign Middle East

Every article you’re about to read in the coming quarter is going to tell you the same thing: it’s been an unprecedented time. That has caused disruption. With disruption comes opportunity. And those that can step up and take that opportunity will win *pause for applause*.

Then, instead of telling you how, they’ll list words, like the following: data (lots of data), technology, personalization, and data again.

Is it wrong? Not necessarily. That’s the beauty of broad strokes. They’re like tarot cards for business; enough people fail to disagree. But is it useful? Not in the slightest.

This is the type of non-committal, lowest-common-denominator advice we’ve come to expect from our market (with a few exceptions) and it’s a problem.

It’s a problem because it offers little-to-no real insight or guidance for anyone coming into the industry or trying to make a difference. It overcomplicates what we are really here to do, which broadens the gap between ourselves, clients, other marketing departments, and our audiences. And it sets a meagre standard of what communications in this region should look and sound like — void of depth, void of originality, void of imagination. And the more people like it, share it, use it, and re-use, the worse it becomes.

It’s the same stuff you hear at every conference, on every webinar, webisode, podcast, and whatever other panel-driven drivel we like to produce here. The trouble is, a huge percentage of those tuning into those events and programmes are our students, graduates, and future stars.

They deserve better.

Where does this issue stem from? It’s complicated. Firstly, we have a common speaker list in the PR industry, many of whom are business-folk first. Three-word-slides and big trending phrases are all the rage in business. Secondly, we suffer from a lack of confidence when it comes to being different. In an emerging market, with such varied cultures and styles, so many new faces, so many youthful clients, really sticking your neck out just feels dangerous.

But in the midst of trying to avoid that, we’ve cast aside our greatest and most influential forces — creativity, imagination, and ingenuity. And we’ve forgotten about independent thought.

Instead, we have settled for an agreeable, middle-of-the-road, trend-chasing culture that congratulates itself on repeating insufficient taglines in place of real ideas.

And to our detriment. With the exponential growth (note my use of the term ‘exponential’ to make this sound more legitimate) of data, we need creativity and human ingenuity more than ever before. We need independent thought, wild imagination, and the desire to create new things more than ever before. Our access to information is so great and our landscape so clogged, that without nurturing those that can dive in and come out with something magnificent, we’re all going to continue drowning in the swamp. Plugging VR and AI as we sink into oblivion.

We will continue to stress data, analytics, platforms, metrics, and automation to our rising stars because it sounds innovative and forward-thinking, but in reality, we will continue to shun the very skill that is truly human and evergreen.

The big idea always has and always will win out — no matter how much automation, AI, or analytics we invest in. We must nurture that talent like a newborn.

Failing to do so will set us off down a path to more useless apps, graphs, Venn diagrams, and inspiring Keynote slides than any of us will know what to do with. Junk, junk, and more junk.

This is where the humble maverick earns their stripes. Where brave and unadulterated thinking can alter the future of a business, industry, or region. Challengers of the status quo. The archenemy of conventional wisdom.

We don’t need more people telling us to be efficient with time, clever with data, or to utilize trends, we need a demonstration, inspiration, and invention. Stop telling, start showing.

That’s the maverick. The voices that are bold and brilliant enough, quick enough, and daring enough to go for real change in a stagnant industry overloaded with tameness. The Bruno Fernandes in a team of five-yard-passers.

The problem is, they’re trouble. They make us nervous. They’re unpredictable. They’re not going to hit the mark every time. They’re risky. We are risk-averse in public relations.

But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we need to loosen the shackles and set ourselves free from the fear of backlash. We need to be bolder, braver, and more ambitious as an industry. The mavericks will allow you to do that if we allow them to flourish. To do that, imagination and ingenuity must be at the very core of our approach. Big ideas must come before platforms, channels, and formats. Big ideas must be the result of great strategic thinking.

The concept must come before the vehicle.

No longer can we start meetings with, “Not sure what the idea is, but let’s use influencers,” or “How about we do something with video?” or “Let’s use VR.” And certainly no more inspiring posts or slides spouting hollow marketing phrases like “Disruption = Success” or “The world is changing, we must adapt.”

No, if 2021 is to be a successful year, we must celebrate individuality and originality. We must insist on finding new ways to measure the brilliance of thought as opposed to just numbers and metrics.

The more we obsess over numbers and platforms and channels, and the more we fail to acknowledge and promote independent thought, the more we remind our creative thinkers and stellar imaginations that we’ve forgotten they exist. And that’s no good.

You don’t need a crystal ball to see that 2021 will be a tough year for communicators. PRCA MENA Board Member, Alex Malouf  pens down his thoughts for 2021.

I hope I haven’t put you off reading this blog, but I wanted to spell out in simple terms what we communicators can expect in 2021. Whilst we do have vaccines and many countries are rolling out inoculation programmes, many of the fundamentals are the same as last year – we’re facing a global pandemic, many people are falling sick, and even more are ignoring health and safety advice. There’ll be more economic ups and downs, lockdowns, and stimulus plans. And communicators will have to do crisis comms on top of their daily work.

Let’s look at the basics, as to where the big focus areas will be in 2021.

Internal Comms is still a top priority

Last year was momentous for internal communications, especially in markets/regions where the function came a distant second to external communications. During the pandemic’s first couple of months, the focus shifted inwards. Communicators were tasked with ensuring employees were educated on health and safety, and in pushing executive messaging. Internal communications came into its own, and the value of good internal communicators was obvious.

Given the state of the pandemic in most countries, I expect that internal communications will remain key to every organization over the next twelve months. Not only will internal comms be top of mind for leadership, we’ll also see more innovation in this space. The number of employee podcasts launched last year in the UAE alone surprised me (though I do wish we’d learn to create content simply and timely, rather than overproduce). We’ll also see more use of martech in the internal comms space in 2021. This is an area to watch and, if you’re a young communicator, focus on for growth and specialization.

Budgets/Owned Content are King for External Comms

On the external side, there’s two issues that’ll determine how well you’ll be able to communicate. The first is money. Specifically, it’s how much money you’ll spend on advertising with your media partners. Last year was brutal for publishers, and the editorial mandate is simple – any editorial space will go to advertisers. I know many editors who aren’t happy with this, but they have little room to maneuver. Unless you have an absolutely brilliant media relations person who’s quite literally related to every journalist out there, you’ll need to up your ad spend if you want to get more coverage.

The other route is owned content. And expect to see more blogs, vlogs and podcasts being launched in 2021 (I’ll admit, I was expecting more in this space in 2020). External communicators are going to focus on their media creation and editing skills in 2021, or spend more money on agencies to help out. There’s still the obvious challenge of amplification – if you’re pushing out via social media, you’ll need to either put ad spend in or work with influencers (including your own employees). The other route to take is using emailers. It’ll be fascinating to watch what happens in the external comms space in 2021.

Fighting Fake News and Rebuilding Trust

The pandemic won’t be over until enough people are immune/following health and safety rules. And, as we’ve seen in 2020, there’s a large segment of society that don’t believe what is said, or just ignore the advice. The biggest challenge for every communicator out there is to work to combat fake news, especially online, as well as regain the trust of the vast majority of the population. I’m already seeing people I know who don’t want to get vaccinated because of what they’re seeing on social media, despite them having relatives who have had this terrible disease.

What’s also apparent is that healthcare communicators need help. Just as the industry came together last spring to help those Communicators who needed support, I feel we need a global effort to come up with ideas and campaigns that’ll promote vaccinations and burst fake need bubbles (I don’t expect any help from the social media platforms on this issue). I’ll write more on this in the coming days.

They’re my three big thoughts for 2021. Let me know yours. And, whatever happens, I wish you all the best of health and success for the coming 12 months.