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.

ArabAd - - CON­TENTS - By Paul Hitti

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?

M.B.-IT

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?

R.P.-

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?

R.P.-

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

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