As part of our regular “Going Global” interview series — where we shine a spotlight on PAN’s trusted international agency partners — we caught up with Lisa George, MD, at Iris Public Relations in the UAE. Lisa gave her views on the latest media and tech trends in the country and across the Middle East, offering expert insight for brands looking to expand into the region.
Based in Dubai, Iris is an award-winning PR and digital consultancy that has been helping tech and corporate brands craft messaging and communicate their company stories to key target audiences in GCC countries, and across the greater Middle East region, for over a decade.
PAN has collaborated with Iris on global programmes for clients InMobi and Techstars, among others.
Lisa George: This year a few of the key publications in the region, like Arabian Business and Gulf News, opted for a paywall. Some media now only accept company releases as sponsored content, especially if they are product focused and promotional. This looks like a trend that will continue.
The overall number of publications has certainly decreased, but trade publications seem to have survived and, in terms of media interest, there is a demand for exclusives, feature stories, market study reports and commentary on future trends. Especially if it’s related to changes experts foresee in the Middle East market.
Lisa George: AI and Robotics, E-commerce, Electro mobility, FinTech, Cybersecurity, Digital transformation, mobile apps, energy saving technology, smart city, and technology that promotes sustainability are all of interest.
Tech entrepreneurial stories and, of course, VC fund raises, also garner interest.
Lisa George: More and more companies here are investing in social media, but there is still a lot of confusion as to how to best utilize the medium. If you can find a PR agency that is creative with messaging and understands market sentiments, then it is good to combine both PR and digital media activities to get the message out to a wider audience.
Lisa George: One size fits all … no, it doesn’t!
To get coverage in the Middle East, it’s important to tweak your story to reflect the local market. Try to relate your activities to Government initiatives. For example, if you are into electro mobility, link it to UAE’s push for more green mobility solutions with ambitions to reach a quota of 25% of trips made by self-drive vehicles by 2030.
Your story should always have a regional angle.
Lisa George: PAN understands that a regional partner may have a different outlook, but they appreciate that this is because they are more aware of what works, and what doesn’t, in their respective market. They are willing to listen and trust the partner to take the lead.
For other insights in the series, check out our conversation with Sergio Poroger, Director at SPMJ Comunicação in Brazil.