The im­por­tance of be­ing en­gaged

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A grow­ing num­ber of start-ups, SMES and en­trepreneurs in the UAE are sub­sti­tut­ing ad­ver­tis­ing for PR as they look to build a mean­ing­ful brand pres­ence in the coun­try’s fast-paced busi­ness com­mu­nity.

On av­er­age, a start-up or SME will spend up to 10% of to­tal rev­enues on ad­ver­tis­ing, with re­search de­mon­strat­ing the to­tal spend de­creases as prof­its rise. Typ­i­cally, this in­vest­ment is split be­tween brand­ing and con­tent, so­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing and an­a­lyst re­la­tions. How­ever, start-ups, en­trepreneurs and SMES are in­creas­ingly turn­ing to PR over ad­ver­tis­ing as they look to pro­mote ser­vices and prod­ucts through mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion in the me­dia, with a higher ROI.

Ba­haa Fatairy, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Dubai-based PR & mar­ket­ing agency BR Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, said: “For a truly suc­cess­ful cam­paign a com­pany should in­vest up to 30% of to­tal sales in Public Re­la­tions and holis­tic me­dia engagement strate­gies. PR and orig­i­nal con­tent play a ma­jor role in let­ting peo­ple know what your brand is, what it does and what it stands for. In such chal­leng­ing mar­ket con­di­tions, with many com­peti­tors and big sharks, this is vi­tally im­por­tant.” SMES and start-ups are a back­bone of the na­tional econ­omy, with SMES alone em­ploy­ing 86% of the pri­vate sec­tor work­force, ac­cord­ing to the UAE Min­istry of Econ­omy, while 300,000 com­pa­nies can be clas­si­fied as part of the

Start- ups and SMES ad­vised to in­crease PR spend from 10% to 30% of to­tal sales to en­gage new au­di­ences.

sec­tor. In Dubai such busi­nesses ac­count for 95% of all en­ter­prises and em­ploy 42% of the to­tal work­force, with Dubai SME plac­ing the to­tal economic con­tri­bu­tion at 40% of GDP.

In the first year of op­er­a­tions, when new en­ter­prises are en­gaged in the cru­cial work of build­ing a brand and pres­ence, ad­ver­tis­ing bud­gets can di­min­ish quickly. In the UAE, which ac­counted for 46% of all re­gional ad­ver­tis­ing spend­ing in the first quar­ter of the year, print cam­paigns av­er­age AED3,000 per month, with broad­cast reach­ing costs of AED30,000 per month and out­door cam­paigns av­er­ag­ing AED300,000 per month.

Fatairy added: “The me­dia land­scape has changed sig­nif­i­cantly over re­cent years and to­day editorial en­joys higher re­gard than brand­ing. A PR strat­egy pro­vides an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity for busi­nesses to en­gage with their tar­get au­di­ence through orig­i­nal editorial con­tent, re­search and ob­ser­va­tions that add to the na­tional con­ver­sa­tion on a top­i­cal is­sue re­lated to their prod­uct or ser­vice. It is not the size of the com­pany that makes the story, but the rel­e­vance of the mes­sage.”

For SMES and start-ups al­lo­cat­ing a mar­ket­ing bud­get for 2018, the ad­vice is clear: a new busi­ness should in­vest in the engagement of its tar­get au­di­ence on an ex­ist­ing me­dia plat­form with in­for­ma­tion and ob­ser­va­tions that add or cre­ate value. Fatairy con­cluded: “The UAE is a hot­bed for busi­ness, which means there is a lot of sup­port avail­able for those join­ing the start-up com­mu­nity, although there is a phe­nom­e­nal level of com­pe­ti­tion. It is crit­i­cally im­por­tant for new busi­nesses to en­gage their au­di­ence and es­tab­lish an iden­tity and pres­ence in the first months of trad­ing. In or­der to fo­cus on core ac­tiv­i­ties, en­trepreneurs and busi­ness own­ers should out-source PR and mul­ti­plat­form mar­ket­ing and fo­cus their strat­egy on shar­ing knowl­edge and in­for­ma­tion in or­der to pro­mote a prod­uct or ser­vice.”

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