A new PR World Order
Public Relations may be a relatively new industry in Dubai, but it is one that has taken off rapidly. The growth in PR agencies and consultants from the start of the new century until 2005 was exponential, with numerous organisations sprouting up across the city to offer their services in a booming economy. As expected, the global downturn put the brakes on this acceleration and we now see ourselves in a situation of industry saturation and fierce competition, with the agencies who successfully rode the crisis chasing fewer contracts. The growth of social media as a marketing tool within this same timeframe has complicated the issue of gaining new business, with agencies seeking to gain a competitive advantage by developing digital divisions. Because of the depressed state of the market, this phenomenon has occurred at the expense of traditional forms of PR.
Everyone is a critic
The growth of social media has meant that these days everyone can have their opinion aired in a public space. A single tweet or Facebook update can have a huge impact and massively affect a PR campaign or activation. One opinion or misconception can start a negative synergy that quickly goes viral, a reach that journalists and editors can now only dream about. The new PR landscape is one of hip bloggers, creative websites and random brand endorsements on social media. These days, if a person can use Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr or WordPress, they have a platform with a ready audience. This, in my opinion, is to the detriment of the industry. I’m nostalgic for the days when criticism was an art. Most blogs offer a narrative with little insight. A good critic, as far as I am concerned, is one who is informed and not merely opinionated.
PR comes full circle
It seems as if we have come full circle. The PR world is now so diluted and diverse that it’s not just large corporate entities and brand names that require our services, it’s independent business people, socialites and housewives who want to expand their reach. The blogger and social media activist who have replaced the editor are now often seeking PR activities that will highlight their profiles further. It’s certainly ironic that the PR industry that has had to change its approach in light of the new reality of the blogger often finds itself in demand by the blogger to represent them. But one thing is for certain, with bloggers hiring PR agencies as the new reality, we can take pride in the knowledge that we have adapted to new circumstances, successfully built bridges and made our presence mandatory in a new and exciting field.