Creativity goes hand in hand with a ‘future’ ready business

We are frequently asked to be creative or apply creative thinking in the work we do or even the lives we lead. A common mistake made by many, is understanding what creativity is and how to go about delivering it, it’s definitely not something you turn off or on, or learn, rather its instinctive, a way of looking at things, a way of thinking and therefore hard to measure or quantify.

The more you use your creative instinct in your everyday life, the more naturally it seeps into everything you think and do and turns what was previously grey into a rich colourful canvas.

Creativity is not just the domain of marketing and advertising departments, rather it applies across the business. Examples include Apple re-inventing or creating a new look home computer to the iPhones and iPads of today that have changed our lives and the way we communicate and do business to Elon Musk and the way that he takes a creative approach to car manufacturing, to space travel and even energy. A business that fosters a creative environment is one that isn’t afraid of challenges, obstacles, on the contrary it thrives and succeeds and leads….

For a marketing team or a communications Agency as well as approaching strategy and process, nurturing and encouraging a natural creative DNA is equally as important. Any communications team worth their salt must understand, embody, illustrate and/or vocalize what you have to offer in a way that makes it relevant and emotive to the target audiences its designed to engage. This is what will differentiate you from the competition. If you can achieve this, your communication will be empowered, be more confident, authentic and ultimately more effective – why? Because you will always have something great to say and – as importantly – stay relevant and consistent.

Creativity is contagious, pass it on” – Albert Einstein

You may ask why is creativity so important for any organization? I will do my best to summarise as much as possible..

It’s engaging in the sense that creative thought and application helps an organization achieve stand out and hence be memorable, relevant, engaging and campaignable. Success is achieved as your brand, service, solution or product stands out and relates to its key stakeholders

Most critical skill for an organization to possess to realise utopia – a creative team that thrives on upholding a creative approach and work environment, will be regarded as more interesting, credible and authoritative. Your audience will be able to relate to you and your offering naturally and buy into them

Creativity is invaluable for internal growth and brings a dynamic element to any organization large or small. It tells people – employees and customers alike that the organization is open to new ideas, disruptive thinking and planning and the energy and desire to make things happen

Creativity is a big pull for talented people to join your team as it makes your business desirable, who doesn’t want to be part of a passionate and driven team who are great at what they say and do and how they say and do things. One of the most powerful USPs for any brand, business, is to be distinctive and inspire people to want to buy in/belong. Who doesn’t want to work for Apple or Google or Tesla?

Ultimately how creative you are, is an indicator of your passion, conviction, confidence, knowledge and success. It’s directly linked to the type of experience you will provide and the qualities you will pass on. Your goal is to inspire greatness in those you talk to and interact with, and the most impactful way to leave your mark, is by leading the way.

When you use or have a creative idea, you feel more emotionally inspired. These emotions influence what we buy into, who to connect with, where to go and workout, who to work for, where to travel to and the decisions we make to drive business success.


Author: Sawsan Ghanem, Joint Managing Director at Active DMC

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Overview of Algeria’s PR market

The corporate communications and public relations market in Algeria is still relatively underdeveloped. Therein lies a paradox, because Algeria has probably one of the highest level of press freedom in the whole MEA region, but at the same time a majority of institutional and corporate leaders are stuck in a “stay under the radar at all cost” attitude towards communications. Historically, two trends are at play: the private sector has grown tremendously for the past 15 years, but often thanks to public spending, and its leaders are thus loth to draw attention to themselves lest somebody might take notice (or offence). The other trend has to do with the top-down nature of political governance, which means communications gets centralized and very few officials would dare speak publicly on any issue for fear of being “off message”.

That said, there are indications that this state of things is changing, albeit slowly, mainly thanks to the role of social media. Officials and decision makers are realizing, sometimes quite brutally, that it’s nowadays nigh impossible to hide, and that you need to make sure you are ready to get your message across. Similarly, they come to the conclusion that it is better to reach out and develop a relationship with your stakeholders before a crisis strikes. There is a great need for counselling and expert advice, from media relations to crisis preparedness, into adapting to the social media environment that is disrupting old habits and paradigms.

There are few “pure player” PR agencies in Algeria due to the limited size of the market, but there are quite a number of integrated communications agencies offering various types of corporate communications and PR services. This “native” integration of Algerian agencies is in my mind an advantage, given that this is a hot trend amongst international agencies and networks. For instance, we at TBWA\ DJAZ have always been deeply integrated, with our PR teams working hand-in-hand with the Creative and Events team, amongst others such as Digital and Direct Marketing. Clients appreciate this holistic approach to communications.

Algeria boasts a population of some 40 million, most of them under 30 years old. Mobile and social media penetration are at 50% and growing fast. Attitudes and behaviours towards communications are also evolving rapidly, which makes for a great deal of opportunities for agencies and PR practitioners alike in the coming 5 to 10 years.


Author: Alexandre Beaulieu, Founder & CEO, TBWA/ DJAZ

TV & Content Trends

It’s a common misconception that TV is a ‘dying’ media form.   In fact, recent studies have shown that more and more video content is being consumed than ever before, increasing 13% year on year to just over 10.5 hours of media content per day among US adults alone, according to Nielsen’s most recent “Total Audience Report”. What is true, is that television as we traditionally know it is rapidly evolving, beyond the traditional linear landscape and into the realms of online digital content via OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, iflix, OSN Wavo and beIN Connect.

Due to the rise and diversification of OTT platforms available, viewers are now in control, consuming video content on their terms, exactly where and when they want it. This is a trend that is expected to grow, as new OTT products launch, whether targeting mass, niche, local or international audiences.

Together with the rise of OTT platforms, with over 2.5 billion smartphones in use in the world, mobile has become the key platform for online visual content consumption, with the Middle East leading the way as the world’s second-largest and fastest growing mobile phone market.  Emphasis is therefore being placed on the development of short-form mobile content, with mobile-first content predicted to become more commonplace over the next few years.

So, what does this digital revolution mean for the future of TV, and how are broadcasters responding to this shift? At Discovery, we have evolved our traditional linear business through various strategic partnerships and digital investments, both globally and locally in MENA, to ensure we continue to serve the needs of our consumers.

With over 6 million followers across social media, Fatafeat, our flagship Arabic food network, has an incredibly loyal and engaged fanbase. This year, our strategy has been to harness the channel’s brand power, to reach new audiences in the digital space, while continuing to serve its existing community of super-fans. The success of Fatafeat’s digital-first content was perhaps best demonstrated during our Ramadan campaign, which not only saw us launch our new Fatafeat App for Android and iOS, but also saw Fatafeat rank as the #1 food website during Ramadan and the Top 3 websites in the food category for the majority of the year, proving that quality food content can cut through despite the fragmented marketplace. This year has also seen us introduce livestreamed content from consumer events onto our social platforms, allowing fans to enjoy the Fatafeat experience wherever they may be.  Complementing this, our Fatafeat Play AVOD platform has continued to expand, with over 1 million monthly views plus the addition of new branded content through collaborations with clients such as Nutella and Maggi.

So, with this market fragmentation in mind, it’s more crucial than ever for TV networks to focus on content that is truly must-have. Discovery’s strategy has been to utilise our 2.5 billion investment in content to really move the dial. This includes strengthening our global franchises; creating annual noisy programming stunts such as Shark Week; while still focusing on content that works for local audiences – a goal we were proud to meet earlier this year, by welcoming celebrity Chef Manal to the Fatafeat family.  Ultimately, our aim is to continue to provide value for our fans with premium video content, and to utilise our global and local digital investments to ensure we are engaging millennial audiences at any time on every platform.


Author: Amanda Turnbull, Vice President and  Country Manager Middle East & Africa, Discovery Communications

Three top trend predictions for 2018

Reputation is important as ever, new technologies are evolving at an unprecedented rate, and there’s an undeniable shift in the way communication works in the business world. Here are three of the top trends we predict to see developing in the coming year:

  1. Increasing focus on influencer marketing. According to a study by Tomoson, it is the “fastest growing customer acquisition channel, outpacing organic search and email marketing”. While the idea is not new, the execution is becoming more sophisticated.
  2. Evolution of artificial intelligence. There is a lot of room for growth when it comes to artificial intelligence in the PR community. The term is exciting to many (and scary to some), particularly in an industry which has foundationally relied on human interaction and relationships. However, we see exciting new technologies improving such as predictive analytics and image recognition which will help us make smarter decisions about how we communicate.
  3. Breaking the silos between PR and Marketing. This trend has already started in some organisations, and we expect to see it continue to grow. As the digital landscape evolves, traditional media and social media become much more intertwined – as do the teams who work with them. Check out our recent ebook on the evolving skillset of a modern PR pro, and stay tuned for some upcoming research we’re doing about the trend which will be released in the new year.

Author: Jeremy Shayler, Business Development Director, Middle East at LexisNexis BIS

Un-Box Your Agency and Set It Free

We all know that the marketing landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years and continues to evolve at rapid pace. Agencies have had to evolve too but many brands still keep them in their old silos and have not updated their perception of the skills on offer. For example, what is PR? To many CMOs, public relations would be defined either as corporate communications or media relations. Some would not even see it as a marketing discipline. They are wrong. Times have changed.

Whilst comms skills and services are still offered by every PR agency, most of the medium to large firms offer so much more and have a different core marketing skill at their heart. PR agencies know how to get things written about, talked about and shared. They know what ingredients are needed for a story. They are earned centric. But they don’t just amplify, they create and produce too.  Many are hiring planners, creatives and producers from adland and then reprograming them to be earned thinkers – Edelman has over 600 globally. Some PR agencies have in-house experiential events and film production departments. Some offer social media, community management, influencer management, social customer relations, social crisis and all manner of online reputation services. Add in strategic earned-brand consultancy and a PR agency starts to look a lot different to the days when we were called PROs.

So why are CMOs still sticking to the old ways? Why are they not challenging a big PR agency to tackle their integrated briefs, head to head with their ad agency? Well, some are. Edelman Deportivo in Stockholm has been voted the ‘best and bravest creative agency on the planet 2017’ by Contagious Magazine above advertising stalwarts such as BBDO, 72andSunny and Leo Burnett. That is thanks to some equally brave brands who embraced the earned future and broke their mental PR box. My agency, Edelman UAE, recently created and built a haunted house in Dubai for the Syfy Channel. We listed it as a “very cheap house to rent” and filmed unsuspecting visitor being scared silly by the crazy experiences we had hidden inside. The Facebook and Youtube content was seen by 1.7m people over 2 days and we also generated a heap of media coverage by using the same experience with journalists and bloggers. Is this PR? We think so.

We know the same blurring of lines is also happening to advertising agencies as they try to poach our staff and also offer an integrated solution. Digital agencies are doing it too and now even the Management Consultancies are getting in on the act by buying in creative talent. So, every type of agency can offer everything?  Are they still specialists or now Jacks of all trades? The answer is both yes and no. They all specialize in a core skill and they all have a core way of thinking: Earned or Paid. So, it’s no longer neat and tidy. It’s no longer the case that channel planning equals a box and budget for the corresponding type of agency. In the short term, this may cause a headache for a procurement department but a brave CMO should embrace the chaos. Mix it up and see what happens. Brief them all as integrated, regardless of their box.

Author: Jason Gallucci, Managing Director, Brand, Edelman

How to choose the best agency partner

The close of Q4 means it’s time to take a look at those 2018 budgets. Where will you spend your marketing dollars? If you are like most of our incoming clients over the past few months, you are very likely looking into retaining an agency partner to help you reach your communications and marketing goals.

Picking the right partner can be a challenge. Here are a few tips to help make that decision an easy one!

1.Understand your organizational needs

One of our biggest pet peeves when we meet with potential clients is they just want to appear on the front page of XYZ daily newspaper. But does that reach your customers where they are? Having an understanding of where your customers are and how to reach them can help you develop a good brief. So when you meet with agencies, you know exactly what success will look like and how they can help you get there.

2.Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

Do your research. Why would you let a firm that has a bad reputation manage your own? Has the firm taken the time to build a solid brand over the years? Does it have a good reputation among other companies in your space? Don’t overlook the importance of answering these questions, as they will point you toward the firms that most closely align with your goals.

3.Have a meeting

You should never hire a PR firm until you have a face-to-face meeting, even if that means over video chat. This important step will make sure you have that chemistry to build and maintain a trusted partnership.

4.Get in touch with PRCA

The professional body for public relations professionals, PRCA has a free Matchmaker service specifically designed to help marketers and business owners find an agency partner. Your requirements will be matched to the capabilities of PRCA’s member agencies with agencies that have been accredited with the PRCA’s quality kitemark, Communications Management Standard prioritized.

5.Ask for testimonials

Any good agency will have countless clients willing to reap their praises. Take a look at the agency’s website. If they don’t have relevant case histories or client testimonials, it’s best to ask. If not, you better look elsewhere.


Having the right partner can pay dividends and contribute greatly to your ROI. Just ask some of our clients!


Original article:

Author: Lauren Bush, Active DMC

2018 PR & Communications predictions

A New Year – like a fresh start – is always exciting. Sometimes that excitement might be tempered by nervousness. After all, 2018 holds a lot of challenges for businesses – particularly if you take a global overview.

But, I think this year is full of promise for those of us in PR and communications. The innovation we’ve craved – and seen affect hundreds of other sectors, from entertainment to travel – is about to transform earned media for the better.

Though not everyone in media might feel this way.  After all, it’s clear the advertising, or paid media, industry is facing up to a range of issues, from transparency concerns to the rise of ad-blockers, but earned media is on the cusp of realising its true potential. And, 2018 will see it make some big strides forward.

In the MENA region, I think there’s three big areas where progress in 2018 will see us get nearer our goal of combining art and science effectively in comms and prove its effectiveness and properly attribute results to earned media activity for the first time.

  • Influencers will power global connections

Whether you want to or not, it’s difficult to contain local stories locally. With the rise of the influencer and their use in marketing and comms – across all platforms bloggers, FB, Twitter, Instagram influencers etc – there is no such thing as a local story anymore.  The PRCA MENA Digital PR & Communications Report 2017 shows that 65% of those surveyed in the MENA use influencers on a regular basis and as the discipline of influencer marketing matures, this will only grow.

  • Earned media will benefit from increased focus as other media faces challenges

In 2018, as media channels continue to fragment and digital advertising comes under more pressure to perform, the way brands are marketed and communicate is changing. Yes, the marketing industry is obsessed with paid media, but the importance of earned media is being realised as expectations to achieve results are higher with no additional budgets.  Higher engagement and loyalty is demanded and earned media will be an essential part of the marketing mix to deliver this.

  • AVEs do not measure the true value of communications: we need true accountability

Earned media needs to prove its worth and to do this, the right metrics and proof of success need to be used. Communicators should use all the tools at their disposal and, in particular, continue the battle against AVEs. An outmoded and increasingly irrelevant calculation, the global movement – as articulated by AMEC ( – is irresistible. It is an essential stepping stone on the journey to true earned media accountability.


Author: Louise Bennett, PR Newswire Cision MEA

Predictions for 2018


Demonstrating a tangible return on investment will be critical in 2018. With clients looking to demonstrate more bang for their buck – and to appease multiple stakeholders – it will be more important than ever before to demonstrate measurable results. As the industry (at last!) starts to move away from the age-old AVE model, campaigns need to ultimately deliver for the business bottom line.

But demonstrating lead generation and sales uplift is by no means an easy feat. Whereas PR can often be KPI’d on the number of clippings, how do we as comms professionals make sure that this is working as hard as possible? Having a clear vision on who your audience is and how they consume their content will help provide the routes for how to engage and mobilise them in the first place.

For example, if you are targeting a C-suite audience, LinkedIn represents a very powerful means of reaching specific audience groups. Through delivering a live stream to LinkedIn on a subject of interest, your pre-promotion of that broadcast directly to specific C-suite groups via this platform will mean that you are crucially engaging with your audience with zero wastage. Everyone watching that live stream will be important. The data and analytics that come via live streaming – from number of live views to tracking enquiries – will ultimately provide you with hard results to canvas its success. A tick in the box for your ROI, and tangible leads for your client to convert.


Importance of B-Roll

If 2017 was a year for the explosion of video, 2018 will be the year when the media gets a lot smarter with its use of video. We are already seeing the media invest in their digital divisions. You only have to look at the likes of Time Out for example to see how important video is to media channels. The amount of views that Gulf News receives for its videos on its Facebook page is phenomenal!

But what we will see next year is the importance of how B-Roll – the loosely edited media footage – can add value to media and clients alike. Just as you craft your video content for news, a short B-Roll edit of the same footage, means that media can then craft their own video content from what you provide, and therefore put their own stamp on it. By pre-planning in advance and giving the media time to allocate resource, well curated B-Roll is just the ticket to working hand in hand with the media.


Video working harder than ever before

Just as brands create beautiful content for their websites, we predict that 2018 will see video content working a lot harder, so that it has value across multiple channels. We often see great video content being produced – but when asked where this video is going – we hear that it often ends up sitting on a YouTube channel or buried on a  corporate website somewhere, with very few people actually engaging with this let alone seeing it.

We very much evangelise the importance of taking your video content to your audience, rather than expecting your audience to come to you. Video content has so much value; brands can make it work a lot harder than many of them do, and can reap a lot more rewards from it through some careful editing. So yes, create a video for your site/YouTube channel, but then use the same footage to do a slight edit so that it works for online news. Then a further, shorter 60 second edit will then see it work across social channels, so it immediately becomes shareable. A further edit to create B-Roll will then provide opportunities to secure TV and online coverage just by delivering a short edit.

Ultimately the harder you make the footage work, the more value it will deliver.


The explosion of live

In 2018, live streaming will really start to gather momentum. A recent survey we conducted via our market research agency showed that 75% of consumers find live content more exciting than pre-recorded, and that half were more trusting of this than anything else. This stands to reason: it’s live and happening in real time, therefore it suddenly feels very transparent. But just as multiple events are live streamed to websites, this also has huge opportunities for press conferences, news announcements, launches and discussion points.

The mechanics of live streaming have also evolved. We have been live streaming for over 13 years now – starting on simple dial up connections and evolving this to fully fledged live TV style productions that are broadcast online. Whether it’s live streaming to online media sites, LinkedIn, Facebook or a client’s website, the power of the live is here to stay.


Author: Cheryl King – Markettiers

PR Trends for 2018

  • Content Marketing:

While content marketing has been the norm for a lot of companies and agencies, 2018 will see Context marketing really come to the forefront. Context marketing simply means delivering the right message (content) to the right person (target audience) at the right time. In fact, Facebook has now changed its algorithm to reward brands that convey personality in their communication.


  • Data on audience:

Getting to know more about your audience through their online behavior – likes, shares, habits and hobbies, and delivering PR campaigns that are devised on the back of informed decisions and ensuring that the message and the narrative is increasingly relevant to the audience will reap a lot more benefits. Knowing when your audience is online, when a product should be released, when not to promote a service or product are all information driven by data that PR professionals can use to their advantage to devise and execute effective PR campaigns.


  • Video over copy:

Millennials are the focus of most marketing and sales strategies today from fashion and retail brands to telecom operators, digital technology players to banks. In this digital age, the world in general and millennials in particular have a much reduced attention span as compared to previous generations. Long copy, however interesting and thought-provoking, will not find too many that reach the finish line. On the other hand, video has proven to be a savior for marketers as they are more impactful, quick and communicate a lot in a short span of time across multiple platforms. Video marketing helps brands gain instant leverage in all spheres while getting the message across in a clear, concise manner. With over 74% increase in understanding when watching a video over reading content, video’s will play a huge role in most PR campaigns in the coming year.


  • Qualitative measurement:

While page views, number of subscribers and leads generated work well for clients and agencies, the role of a PR practitioner in the coming year would be to help client’s see value in the qualitative outcomes of campaigns and work done. While it is important to see how many people the public relations efforts reach out to; a lot of focus needs to be put on how this impacts the audience positively and in turn has good return on investment for the client. Agencies will need to map out deliverables to ascertain areas towards achieving qualitative output over mere numbers at the end of the month in a clippings report.


  • Normalisation of Influencer marketing:

With the explosion of a host of ‘Influencers’ in the region where focus is on the influence the number of followers would add to the brand over the Idea of influence they would contribute to an organization is still blurry. However with the introduction of VAT on ads and single business owners, influencer marketing is set to go under normalization in the coming year. The difference between advertisements and earned media, as is common knowledge, is credibility and that’s exactly what paid placements with influencers are. PR practitioners need to have honest, transparent communications with clients and influencers to explore and outline the best possible ways of maximizing returns on collaborations.


Author: Sharon Pereira – PR Account Director, Matrix Public Relations

Trends in the PR industry to watch for in 2018

Edward Bernays, the father of Public Relations, defines its functions in three simple acts- inform people, persuade people and integrate people with people. As people and their preferences changed, we saw the industry evolve and saw new channels of information emerge. The industry has come a long way from being largely reactive to integrating with a much livelier narrative. As our news stories, communication and audiences mature in keeping with the changing times, the PR industry too finds itself in a dynamic state of change. The year 2018 will be no different and is sure to bring the industry new developments.


The elusive digital landscape

Technology and more importantly, social media has completely changed the nature of the industry. With stories and their reactions in real time, the PR professionals should be pro-active as opposed to their traditional reactive stance. The stories must be customised and cultivated over time to capture the attention of the audience. As the internet gets cluttered with more content noise on an hourly basis, the readers will get more selective in their choice. The digital media will require as much strategy, diligence and regard as the traditional journalist or editor.


Visual storytelling

We have come a long way from regarding the traditional press release as our only source of communication. We may even have surpassed content in any written form altogether. Visual storytelling promises to be a part of the PR exercise in a big way come 2018. Not only is the medium easy to consume, it is also a compact form of content that packs in a large amount of data.


Influencer marketing

We live in an age where the distinction between internet personality and celebrity is a thin line. With impressive numbers in ‘followers’ and a loyal fan base, they have emerged as a viable and inevitable medium for any brand to really connect with its target audience. Brands often employ the voice of an impartial entity to endear its customers. Its onset has already begun with brands like Sprite, Louis Vuitton actively employing this technique to reach out to its target audience.


Big Data will be well, big

From simple tools like running analytics on your latest content post to using complex softwares to segmenting your target audience, data will drive the industry. It will not only help us create benchmarks against competitors and formulate content strategy, but will also give us insights to creating content that is more aligned with the market. Already firms like Mastercard have created an engagement engine that will track its conversations across 56 markets in real time and will also give them global insights on their markets.


As we adapt to the new challenges that the territory brings, the PR industry must display flexibility in its operations. Standard Darwanian laws will apply and those who find themselves unable to integrate the new changes, stands to lose a major section of their audience.


Author: Victor King, Founder & CEO, Absolute Communications Group