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Strategic Messaging For Your Enterprise If you follow these four rules and keep them at the heart of your campaigns, you will build brand resilience, and this is the real gold dust.

By Loretta Ahmed

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To come up with four communication methods to PR your business in the GCC is an interesting proposition. What does PR mean anyway these days? I don't think any agency is delivering conventional PR campaigns anymore– and those that are will soon be wondering what on earth they were doing when life passed them by. Whether we look at PR, advertising, CRM, CSR, brand development or government relations, today's reality is that none of the marketing disciplines of old exist in the siloed way that they did in the past.

Every client we work with today is thinking differently. It might start out as PR, but the end result is an integrated campaign that starts and ends with the customer at its heart. For the sake of simplicity (and to answer the question set) let's call it PR.

1. Determine who you want to reach , and get to know them well.

To decide how best to PR your business in this region, the golden rule is to know your audience– and I mean really know them. Read what they read, follow who they follow, and listen. Listen hard. Only when you know how, when and where to engage with them, you can plan out a campaign that will reach them and interest them.

2. Determine the message you want to send, and structure it with relevance in mind.

What is it you need to reach them with exactly? Well, that really depends on what they want to hear. Remember this bit. It's not what you want to tell them. They may not care less about your product or your story. People are time-conscious now. They know what they need and when they need it. For you to cut through the marketing noise around them, you better make sure your message is relevant to them.

3. Fine-tune your delivery so it isn't perceived as a generalized broadcast.

So you know your audience, you've got a message they want to hear and now you need to have a conversation. This is the tricky bit. It's where you can no longer treat your audience like a homogenous mass. That's a real no-no, and it will have them unfriending you before you can say "listen up' and get personal. You've got to make them feel like this is real one-to-one stuff –an authentic "Hey, I'm talking to you' conversation– the kind of chat that makes your audience actually like you and want to hang out with you.

4. Keep the engaged users on board by injecting fresh elements.

Now it gets really interesting; you know your audience, they like you and they are engaging with you and they're just really starting to buy into your brand. Now you have to retain them. Tell them original stories, make content really useful for their needs. Say sorry when you make a mistake. Say thank you when they become a regular customer or refer you to their friends. (Never forget to say thank you. It means a lot.) It means you're listening. Oh wait, that's where we started out- it's the bit that should never stop.

So to recap: know your audience inside out, make sure your message is relevant to them, don't just shout marketing -speak at them- have a conversation and make it as personal as you can, say sorry when you get it wrong, and reward your loyal advocates. If you follow these four rules and keep them at the heart of your campaigns, you will build brand resilience and this is the real gold dust. Brand resilience is when customers or fans really trust you. They want you in their lives, they forgive you, and they tell their friends about you. This is what turns consumers into advocates and then they tell your story to the world. Well, their world anyway.

Today's reality is that every citizen is a global citizen. Every post, tweet and conversation happening in Dubai or Shanghai now can be shared in Sydney, Sheffield and Seattle in seconds. It's what makes marketeers tremble at the knees. It makes us all content planners– the marketing discipline, the platform, the messenger all have to be agnostic. Start with a clean sheet of paper and put your customer at the center. The rest is easy and the marketing dollars can be spent far more creatively (and economically) than ever before. There has never been a better time to be a communicator.

Loretta Ahmed

Founder and CEO, Houbara Communications

Founder and CEO of Houbara Communications, Loretta Ahmed is a public relations, brand reputation, and crisis communications expert with over 30 years of solid experience guiding clients through transformational times. She is experienced in leading multi-channel campaigns, creative thinking, business planning, and nation branding. 
Previously, she was CEO for Grayling’s UK operations before moving to the region to head up Grayling’s MEA business in 2013.  In 2019, she acquired the UAE business to create an 
independent agency, whilst retaining close ties to Grayling’s global network. Houbara Communications now acts as its Middle East affiliate.  During her time with Grayling, Loretta has been the global lead on the Jaguar Land Rover account. Activity spanned corporate PR, CSR, and crisis communications across 28 countries. She also let the corporate communications work for Coca Cola devising programs to leverage their CSR commitments in the areas of recycling and reduction of water use in their production process.  
Loretta has been previously recognized for her “outstanding contribution to the PR industry” by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), and is a former chair of Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) MENA, as well as a former Vice President for the Middle East Region for International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO).  She is now a board member for Global Women in PR MENA, and was recognized by PRCA MENA as the Middle East PR Leader of the Year in 2020. 
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