Make some Noise

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Things are chang­ing in Le­banon as they are chang­ing world­wide, yet the changes aren’t as fast as they are else­where,” says Ge­orges Najm, founder and gen­eral man­ager of Noise PR & Events.

Najm is a straight talker. He is de­tail­ing the ob­sta­cles that re­strict Le­banon’s PR in­dus­try from ad­vanc­ing: a lack of good ta­lent and re­sources; the tur­bu­lent economic out­look; and the slow and overly bu­reau­cratic na­ture of Le­banon it­self. “It’s a slow coun­try,” he says with barely con­tained ex­as­per­a­tion.

If the PR in­dus­try in Dubai and the rest of the world is in a pro­tracted pe­riod of trans­for­ma­tion, it is still play­ing se­ri­ous catch up in Le­banon. Old school public re­la­tions practices are alive and kick­ing, di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion is lim­ited, and the po­si­tion­ing of PR within com­pa­nies is some­times mis­guided.

“I would like bet­ter hu­man re­sources and more pro­fes­sion­al­i­sa­tion of the in­dus­try,” says Najm, who founded Noise in Beirut in 2013. “I would like to see more and more use of new me­dia tools – ev­ery­thing per­tain­ing to blog­gers and so­cial me­dia in­flu­encers we are still im­pro­vis­ing on. I would like to see it more sci­en­tif­i­cally man­aged.

“[But] this takes time, it takes re­search, it takes train­ing, and it takes lots and lots of trial and er­ror. It will take money and it will take a few years, but things have to go this way, oth­er­wise you can­not sur­vive.”

Yet the old ways are alive and well in Le­banon, says Najm.

“Peo­ple want them,” he ad­mits. “You still have press re­leases, you still have tra­di­tional me­dia in­ter­views, you still have TV coverage, you still have all of that. And we’re still do­ing them, ap­ply­ing new meth­ods and new tech­niques, but we’re still do­ing them the old way. Un­til now they did not die. So let’s be re­al­is­tic. We still have print, we still have ra­dio, we still have TV and clients are still ask­ing for them. They’re still ask­ing for TV in­ter­views, they’re still ask­ing for press re­leases, even though the press re­lease as a tool is dy­ing world­wide.”

All of this could be viewed as an op­por­tu­nity for Noise, a young and in­de­pen­dent PR agency that seeks to be recog­nised as one of the most in­no­va­tive and pro­fes­sional agen­cies in the coun­try. With a core of­fer­ing of events man­age­ment, PR and me­dia re­la­tions, it aims to take an even big­ger share of the mar­ket than it al­ready has, with Najm crit­i­cal of many of the other agen­cies cir­cu­lat­ing in the mar­ket.

“There are no more than 10 agen­cies who do busi­ness the way busi­ness should be done, and who de­liver the way they should be de­liv­er­ing,” says Najm. “It’s about the busi­ness they have and the ser­vices they de­liver. Or­gan­is­ing a wed­ding is not the job of a PR firm. If you have an agency that is or­gan­is­ing wed­dings and or­gan­is­ing par­ties for bach­e­lors, you can’t claim to be a PR agency. I have a prob­lem with po­si­tion­ings in Le­banon.

“If you don’t have solid me­dia re­la­tions, you can­not claim to be a PR firm. If you don’t have lob­by­ing power, ad­vo­cacy, and public af­fairs power, the abil­ity to get things done and open doors, you can’t claim to be a PR firm. If you don’t have im­pec­ca­ble writ­ing skills, and if you don’t have im­pec­ca­bly well or­gan­ised cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tions cells with proven de­liv­ery and track records, you can­not claim to be a PR firm.”

Najm, who is also the co-founder and man­ag­ing part­ner of ad­ver­tis­ing agency Clé­men­tine, knows that the use of so­cial me­dia is slowly trans­form­ing the coun­try’s PR scene, with in­flu­encers and video con­tent slowly but surely in­creas­ing in im­por­tance.

“If you don’t do so­cial me­dia you are dead,” says Najm, who ad­vises many Le­banon’s top-brass politi­cians. “Le­banese peo­ple have PR in their genes but they don’t have it in a pro­fes­sional way. With some train­ing and some in­sti­tu­tion­al­i­sa­tion of the new tools things will def­i­nitely go for­ward in a bet­ter way.” Noise’s strat­egy going for­ward? “We are aim­ing to be the big­gest in­de­pen­dent PR firm in Le­banon, and the most pro­fes­sional in­de­pen­dent PR firm in Le­banon,” he replies. “The ac­tion plan is to re­cruit the proper ta­lent to sup­port big ac­counts, to re­cruit big cor­po­ra­tions, and to keep de­liv­er­ing and mak­ing Le­banon’s name shine as a PR des­ti­na­tion. -

Beirut’s Noise wants to be the most pro­fes­sional in­de­pen­dent PR firm in Le­banon. But first it has to ne­go­ti­ate the coun­try’s chal­leng­ing mar­ket If you don’t have solid me­dia re­la­tions, you FDQQRW FODLP WR EH D 35 ÀUP ,I you don’t have lob­by­ing power, ad­vo­cacy, and public af­fairs power, the abil­ity to get things done and open doors, you can’t FODLP WR EH D 35 ÀUP ,I \RX don’t have im­pec­ca­ble writ­ing skills, and if you don’t have im­pec­ca­bly well or­gan­ised cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tions cells with proven de­liv­ery and track records, you FDQQRW FODLP WR EH D 35 ÀUP

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