Downsizing of print publications, layoffs and titles being axed are having a knock-on effect on UAE-based PR firms, posing the biggest current challenge to the communications industry, according to the managing director of boutique firm Catch Communications.
Job cuts have been reported and rumoured within many publishing houses within the Emirate, representing a global trend in media that has seen upstart companies and newspapers alike shrinking and disappearing.
Injeel Moti, who launched her UAE-based agency in 2017, said this is leading PR firms to find fresh tactics to place content.
"Change is inevitable and one cannot deny we are currently experiencing a major shift in the media and communications industry with the year 2019 being truly transformational," Moti said.
"The media landscape is constantly changing and more so currently than ever before with several doors shutting down - and various others opening up. The industry has witnessed plenty of media house closures over the course of the last two to three years, some more shocking than the others."
While change is inevitable, Moti said it is imperative to assess the effects the transition this has had on the PR industry in the region.
"In 2019 alone the industry has had various closures not just for print titles which anyway is a dying breed in the region but also online titles and the Arabic counterparts of established websites for both global and local titles, further downsizing the media pool making it harder and harder for PR professionals to identify pitching venues and outlets to feature their clients," Moti added.
"Publications that have shifted towards digital avenues are quite selective when it comes to the content they feature – usually backed up by brands that are willing to invest in larger paid campaigns or offer an ad spend.
"With the lack of publication sources currently – it is important to understand tactics and ways to make content more interesting and appealing and in return understand how to promote campaigns through different means – not just traditional and online media forums."
Moti says this comes at a time when an increasing number of PR firms are opening up shop in the UAE, creating a competitive market for old-timers and newcomers, with many agencies are now turning their eye to markets elsewhere in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt.
"Communication experts need to know the brands they are representing inside out and then identify avenues wherein they can mastermind and tweak their strategies in accordance with the current landscape," Moti added.
"For instance, an F&B brand would see a quick turnaround say with influencer marketing or a trusted review, however a fashion brand especially one that falls into the luxury segment would utilise PR more effectively so with creating awareness and communicating news.
She added: "Marketers and brand guardians today want to see quick results with quantifiable ROIs, while PR is a marketing tool that yields results over a retained period of time, the expectations from clients are no longer the same which again has proven to be challenging and can only be tackled if the wheel is constantly reinvented."
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