TRADITIONAL v/s DIGITAL PR? Migration or Marriage
In recent years, we’ve seen two faces of PR battle it out—traditional vs. digital. As modern professionals, we have all at some point asked ourselves whether to go for traditional or digital PR, or simply opt for a migration or a marriage.
Could it be that “marriage” is the best course of action? First off, it is important to know that even though the two types of PR specialise in two very different areas, they are both geared towards the same general objective. Employing both a traditional and digital agency to take care of all your needs is not something unusual. However, if you choose the “marriage” option, you’ll have to ensure that both your agencies are in touch with each other. This way, they can easily discuss objectives and, of course, avoid any potential overlap. To back up my claim, here’s an example of a Paris/dubai love affair. In 2014, Strategies International, a Paris-based traditional French Media & PR Agency that was established in 1987 to service the Middle East markets and which had been operating in Dubai for more than a decade, decided to offer its customers both traditional and digital PR solutions in one package — not the migration. Therefore, Strategies International merged with regional digital agency Digitalcups to form an Integrated traditional & digital agency, now known as Strategies dc. How did this successful marriage work? To find answers to this, we had a talk with both CEOS of the new agency — Ronald Pharaon and Mohamed Bitar. Ronald Pharaon is a reputable and popular public figure of the Middle East Media Industry, and former MD of Strategies International. Mohamed Bitar is the former CEO of Digitalcups, and currently Managing Partner of Strategies dc, a digital media techie guru and strategist who has been operating from Dubai and Beirut since 1997.
What was the appeal for a young fast paced digital agency to team up with a solid established traditional agency?
M.B.- The vision I’ve had for digitalcups when I’ve set it up in 2011 was to educate, train, and keep our clients always in the picture of what’s going on with their business by providing solutions and not only services. Yes, we do cover all the end to end digital services but during my 17+ years of experience in the field, I realised that it doesn’t make sense to only provide individual services to clients but to provide them different solutions, which would eventually encompass the services.
This allowed us to provide an ecosystem of services where clients/partners have the ability to pick and choose different services à la carte, or choose from the different packages we’ve created over the years, or simply allow us to study their business and provide them with the best digital solution. Not only this is the most efficient way of working for the client because they have one point of contact to manage all their digital needs saving them time and money but for us it’s also the most efficient way since we would be in control of the various digital communication channels allowing us to also save time and deliver fast.
What did the traditional agency encyclopedic knowledge bring to the new entity?
M.B.- The merger brought a lot to
the table actually. Now, not only we’re providing digital solutions packages but we’re providing packages that encompass both digital and traditional channels; be it TV, Print, Digital, etc.
PR is not an esoteric department in an agency producing press releases and organising events. PR is a digital marketing tool relying on unique content creation and the use of social media platforms to expand and offer a comprehensive service. What are the coordinated strategies you use to offer your clients as one stop shop service?
always go back to understanding our clients’ needs and allowing us to customise solutions to help their business succeed, whether it’s from a creative standpoint, media spend, or production. Because of both entities’ years of experience in the field, we provide services unlike any other agency in the region, always considering ourselves a boutique agency no matter how much we grow in size. Clients deserve agency patience, consultancy, time and efforts and since our number one goal is to keep clients/partners for as long as both businesses live, then it’s our duty to make sure to engrave what they deserve into every member of the company.
What prompted Strategies International (S.I.), a well-established Media & PR agency in the luxury segment with a portfolio of high end clients, to merge with a young budding digital agency?
Over the past 30 years, S.I. has always adapted to new trends, new techniques and accompanied the evolution of the communication industry, to offer to our clients adapted solutions to their communication strategy. Our merger with DC, is a typical example of the need to adapt to new trends and the ever-evolving communication landscape.
Did you abandon your successful PR & traditional media techniques to embrace the new blood?
Certainly not! The integration of digital into media and PR coupled with creative output, allows us to offer to our prestigious clients, integrated 360 degrees solutions, which combines all three axes of communication. Today, digital is a major tool in the PR techniques, which offers a direct link between the brand and its target audience, not to mention immediate interactions between both.
From a media standpoint, our strong knowhow in traditional media, coupled with the integration of online media, following our merge with DC, allow us today to develop and offer to our clients extended communication strategies and master their implementation. How can you describe the bridging phase between your traditional operating system and the new business model? R.P.-
“We’ve been surfing with the wave over the past years”, if I can put it that way, yet it is not a new business model as such, but mostly adapting ourselves to an evolution, to new techniques, to new approach in communication. Was your decision made after your clients’ requests, or were you aware of all the developing trends, which made you suggest the migration to digital? R.P.-
Gerard Daga’s (our President) vision has always driven S.I. in a direction to integrate new tools, new technologies, embrace new trends. However, it is not a migration as such as much as it is an integration of new communication science, know how and tools.
Mohamed Bitar CO-CEO Strategies dc
Ronald Pharaon CO-CEO Strategies dc