Over the course of the past decade, many digital platforms were created by the constantly-idea-brewing developers who are lucky enough to reside and operate from Silicon Valley, San Francisco.
These digital platforms were designed to make our lives easier and much simpler when it boils down to communication within our networks. Once introduced into our lives, we learned to use them, love them, and ultimately overuse them in some cases.
We went from platforms like AOL, ICQ and MSN – which we had to bid farewell to recently -, to social networking platforms such as Friendster, MySpace and giants like Facebook and Twitter.
It’s amazing how easily the public adopted and learned how to use these platforms that supposedly make our lives easier in terms of communication. With tech companies praising the use of these communication tools, there’s just one thing: Why is the tech industry not practicing what they preach?
Many corporate level professionals in technology are not on social media, reasoning it as not having enough time to catch up with tweets on Twitter. As a digital media advocate, I must say that convincing brands to join the bandwagon to start being social is harder because of this very reason – not having experienced it on a personal level.
If the top does not experience social media as it is in real time, how come do they roll out new solutions in making communicating easier and better for the public?
It is the irony in technology. Catching up with and making use of social media platforms comes with ease to me. Thus, in true meme fashion I will say;
“Everybody got time for that.”
Louay Al Samarrai, MCIPR, Managing Director Active Public Relations & Marketing Communications Consultancy, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai, April 2013 – Active PR is a business to business consultancy and primarily the public relations sector is still very “generalist” in its structure and approach unlike more developed markets where PR has tended towards specializations like Healthcare, Financial and Analyst Relations as well as Public Affairs.
As a regional PR consultant rather than one confined to just the UAE for example the issues that face the PR industry today vary widely across the different markets and can range from the very basic level in some of the key markets to an evolving sophistication in others.
The common oversight that people have when working with this region or entering it is to see the UAE and specifically Dubai as the “typical” environment for PR as a practice and as a marketing tool and that what works here and in Europe or the US will work in Saudi or Kuwait or Lebanon.
In addition whilst the education on the region in markets like Europe and the US is improving it is still seen as one homogenous area called the Middle East rather than a diverse range of different countries and markets with widely differing views and cultures and thus methods of communicating
The media landscape is also varied and in some cases a little different to Europe and parts of the US – in the Middle East media breaks down to Pan Arab media (that have a footprint that covers multiple countries and this covers TV, Print and obviously online media in both English and Arabic) and specific in-country media which typically means dailies and local TV stations.
The media on the whole are both professional and ethical however there are some areas within the region where this is not the case and where, when contacting some media outlets, one ends up speaking to the advertising team…not unusual in other parts of the world as we all know! Some of the most challenging markets are Egypt and Saudi Arabia when dealing with media but again experience and regular contact can help to achieve results for Clients. At Active PR we have been talking to these media for over ten years and this does help along with having presence on the ground there too.
Social media is still growing and is seen as effective in areas like consumer/fashion and lifestyle PR but is still sorely lacking in the business to business arena especially in technology and finance but we are confident that this will slowly evolve and we do see many Clients starting to allocate small amounts of their budgets to this element of the PR and marketing toolkit.
In conclusion the Middle East region is “buzzing” once again and the signs of recovery and stronger economic growth make this region a lucrative set of markets for companies and organizations to focus on. This means that for us in the PR industry and at Active PR specifically the signs are healthy and good. From my personal perspective this region is exciting, challenging, diverse and sometimes frustrating but it’s rewarding and I have learnt so much that is useful especially when dealing with other regions, cultures and mentalities and that’s a credit to the extremely cosmopolitan nature of the region, of the United Arab Emirates and of Dubai itself and I would not change it for the world.
Living in Dubai is one of the few cities in the world where one is able to come close to different cultures and to experience cross-cultural communication on a daily basis.
The UAE hosts over 200 nationalities with which you will eventually interact with in one way or another. Active PR has 10 nationalities on its own, which is not uncommon in the Middle East.
As an Emirati, an expat or a globe-trotter, we soon learn to realize what unites all nationalities and what segregates the population. We share the same country, therefore one may ask, how do we communicate with one another? How do marketeers and PR professionals relay messages that every nationality can relate to?
You may think that humor would be key and is universal, however while one culture may appreciate a joke it is likely that another will not understand its humor or may even get offended. Cultural references don’t translate well!
Nationalism will not bring people closer, cultural sensitivities also need to be kept in check.
So what translates well across borders?
Think of what all humans have in common and all the life experiences that we do share :
Babies : every culture loves its young and youth, all human beings have love and appeal for babies. Why do you think Evian ads are some of the most talked about? They are transcultural!
See Baby & Me, the latest Evian ad:
Relationships : Love, marriage, family. Who in the world cannot relate to at least one of these?
See Chewable Aspirin’s TVC:
Sports : sport has the power to unify a nation in their love of the game. Take the World Cup as an example, while there may be rivalries between nationalities, sports and games still unify people.
Self-image: we all have a self-image and see ourselves as something. We may not relate to others’ but at least we can try to have transcultural interest in the self-image of others.
Life-cycles: we’re all born, live and die. How we deal with it varies, as well as how we live our lives in between but we will always have humanity and mortality in common.
See Sylvania TV commercial in Thailand:
Basic necessities, such as water : Water is a universal experience and we all have the same needs and bodies. It seems to be a common appeal across cultures.
TV commercials and ads from around the world provide some of the best examples of trans-cultural and intercultural themes and communications.
Transcultural communications can be benefitial to humanity by bridging our common traits and experiences. These tips can help any individual to better his or her relations with others, as we all learn to better appreciate our diffferences.