In a new role bridging our London and Middle East operations, I spent the first week of February working out of our Dubai office and getting a feel for the PR and comms sector out in the ‘sandpit’, as it’s often referred to by its expat residents.
The overwhelming sense I got, among PR and marketing professionals in what is still somewhat of an emerging market, was one of collaboration, combining experience and knowledge from a range of ages, nations and specialities, and a real buzz around the possibilities that that kind of environment can offer us and our clients – both in agencies and in-house.
Without entrenched ideas about ‘how we do things’ among many brands and clients in the Middle East, and an ever-growing consumer and potential customer base, comms agencies are given the chance to flex their creative muscles and try new things out. For markettiers, that has meant a lot more focus on our live streaming and video production capabilities, as opposed to a focus on the traditional media relations support we provide to clients in the UK market.
Of course, while that remains a core part of our expertise in the UK and beyond, the Middle East business has an exciting proposition for a traditionally print-heavy market and has afforded us the opportunity to stretch our legs in the wider marketing and comms mix.
I took part in a range of meetings and pitches over the course of the week, to agencies with members who know us from their time working in the UK, right through to businesses hearing about the kind of broadcast activity we undertake with fresh eyes and ears. But regardless of their experience of broadcast, or of markettiers, everyone in the Middle East seems to be open to pushing comms boundaries and showing the rest of the world just what it has to offer – arguably unique, by virtue of its newness in the region but the wealth of experience behind it.
Of course, there was also some socializing! We mixed work with play creating a video highlights package of the first ever PRCA MENA Awards ceremony. And we even went home with the Highly Commended certificate for Small Agency of the Year – not bad for a specialist agency in a market awash with small agencies looking to grow, just as we are.
The year 2017 looks to be exciting not only for markettiers MENA, but for the comms sector in its entirety, across the region.