What have I learnt while being at Hotwire London? A lot. That would be my short answer. During my time at Hotwire I noticed that it doesn’t matter where a PR Agency is located geographically, there are certain things that are the same no matter what. We have clients we like, and then there are those we aren’t too keen on. We all have to work on key messaging, strategic planning, new business pitches, releases, media relations, bi-lines, features, brainstorms, creative angles and of course reporting. We may call them different things and we sometimes will go about achieving them differently, but in the end our goal is the same – we need to get the coverage to please the client and we will do what it takes to achieve our goal. PR people have thick skin worldwide
My point being that my time at Hotwire taught me that on the PR front Active PR in Dubai and Hotwire PR in London deal with the same things on a daily basis, the vibe in the office is similar and the media, despite the UK media’s harsh reputation in Dubai are actually extremely friendly.
It was when I was chatting with Emma Hazan, Deputy MD of Hotwire London that I learnt quite a lot about Hotwire, the history, their innovation and how they have dealt with the shift in the PR industry throughout the region. I learnt that;
- Hotwire was founded in 2000 and launched into the market during the whole .com craze/crash
- Hotwire has three main principles – transparency, practice specialism and international capabilities – with offices worldwide
- Hotwire started with only 2 people and now have 180 people worldwide
- Hotwire have a Global Mobility Program, employees can request to be transferred to another Hotwire office somewhere in the world for a certain period of time in order to gain the experience they are looking for as well as develop a better understanding of that particular market
- Hotwire is always looking to diversify and breach new sectors and industries
- Hotwire could be considered industry leaders as every year they launch their ‘Digital Trends Report’ where I learnt that digital storytelling, digital health and social user experiences were all successful 2013 trends and growth in security and business maturity on social media will be trends in 2014
- Media trends throughout the European market looks to be booming for financial services, technology, consumer and public affairs
- The PR industry has considerably shifted towards online within the past 5 years. More and more media are moving to online forums, clients are happy with online coverage, if a story goes viral it is exceptional, social influencers such as bloggers and you tubers can make or break a campaign and the news always breaks first online – broadcast and print are always late to pick up a trending story.
- Print media will soon be phased out completely.
I find it awesome that PR translates across the globe and I am extremely intrigued to watch and see if PR in the GCC/Pan Arab region follows in Europe’s footsteps and online become the tier one coverage we strive so hard to attain.
Getting into work is nothing like back in Dubai. In Dubai I wake up at 6.30am and get ready to take my crazy Jack Russell, Troy out for our weekday hour long runs would then have a quick shower, grab a taxi and head into work for 8.30am feeling energized and refreshed. Even though I wake up at the same time in London my morning routine is completely different. So, I wake up at 6.30am, I shower, I get ready and I get my cardio by walking to the tube station, not too bad, a 15 minute walk, but when you come from the desert 12 degrees can be chillingly painful. Once I’m in the tube it’s a mad dash to make sure I don’t miss the Northern Line to Moorgate, which I have to make sure goes via Bank and not Charring Cross, fewwwww…that just made me tired. WAIT – it’s not done yet. I’m still not in the office. Once we get to Moorgate it is another mad dash, almost like a race, who can get out of the tube station the fastest, shoving allowed, and a nice 5 minute walk before I arrive at Hotwire London offices. I have to confess I do tempt Beth for a quick morning stop at Starbucks so I can get my morning Latte fix.
Let me say, before I continue, Hotwire London offices are insane, in a good way. They are massive, at least compared to Active PR, as we are a much smaller team. The atmosphere is buzzing, people are friendly and the M&M Team is gearing up getting ready to kick start whatever manic tasks they have lined up before them for the day.
Even though I am not used to the tube journey into work, I still arrive energized and ready to tackle whatever the day holds. I have to keep in mind that I am three hours behind my offices in Dubai, so I log on, and catch up on everything that has been happening at Active PR. I make sure I am on top of the activities taking place for each of my clients and I have a look through my Hotwire agenda for the day and start to prioritize and organize my day.
Once I have done all of that – I go through a number of the regular dailies back in Dubai just to make sure I am on top of my regional news for my clients and then I have a browse through the UK Nationals, such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Financial Times and the BBC.com. I find it really interesting reading the news on both sides as there are some similarities and a number of differences. While we focus on local as well as regional stories, the UK focuses more on local stories as well as governmental issues, with some interesting bits and bobs about the Middle East and what it ‘going on’ there – which is always funny to read.
Once that has been done, I get cracking away on some Dubai work – make sure I am in touch with my team and we have divided the work in order to ensure that we do not double up. Tasks on my agenda for the day for Dubai clients include, drafting bi-lined articles, scheduling in some interviews for my clients, finalizing Q3 reports, helping out on new business pitches and making some client calls to go over activity covered and pending.
In between all of that I am really trying to maximize my time at Hotwire to learn how everything works over here and everyone has been great in including me in a number of different activities. Some of the things I have been a part of are, media sell ins with the Fits.me and McAfee teams, learning all about the WiP, training sessions with Thirty Three Digital about the Listening Post, brainstorming session, meeting the Ciena Hotwire Team (as one of the clients I work on is Ciena) and an extremely interesting chat with Emma Hazan, Deputy MD over here at Hotwire London.
As the day progresses and it approaches 3pm in the UK, the team emails from Dubai start to come to a halt as it is the end of the day for us over there. This gives me some of the time I need to ensure I am getting all my client work done, it allows me the scope to email the team back home and ask them for any updates or briefings that I need to be aware of that happened throughout the day. At this point it is approaching 6pm and the Hotwire team is winding down and everyone is getting ready to leave. However the day doesn’t end there – I am, in fact, only in London for two weeks – so post work, Beth and I maximize our London site seeing, which has been lovely.
It had been a while since I had to get on a plane heading to the UK, but this past Friday that is exactly what I found myself doing. I love London…everything about London, yup that includes the weather, coming from good old Dubai where it is hot 361 days in a year – a little bit of rain and wind was just what the doctor ordered (it is hailing as I type out this blog).
The plane journey wasn’t too bad – 7.5 hours , watched 3 movies, read a book, people watched a little and tried to get some shut eye and before I knew it, we had landed in London Heathrow and as soon as I got off the plane I remembered what London was really like. On the plane, everyone was relaxed, at our destination of takeoff, people were chilling at the departure lounge, but as soon as the plane doors opened at London, the dynamic changed.
No joke, I could feel the vibes alter and everyone had serious speed mode switched on – running, pushing and making sure they stood on the right/left side of the escalator….and this was just to get to passport control – living in Dubai for just over 2 years now, I had forgotten that feeling and it being late, I simply strolled to passport control and waited my turn. Bag arrived on time the taxi man was amazing – nice to chat to but not too chatty – perfect for a Friday night at 11pm.
Got to Beth’s place, Beth has been nothing short of amazing since I got here and we kick started the weekend. I love London…Southbank, Borough Market, St. Pauls, Greenwich, Canary Wharf, Belham…a lottt of walking, some of it in the rain and I enjoyed every minute of it…Dubai may been known for being a rising country full of luxury but London has culture, history, nature, music, art, life, soul and all of that is only 1 weekend.
Suffice to say I am really looking forward to my two weeks here and at Hotwire PR – today is actually my first day at the Hotwire offices – but you are going to have to watch this space if you want to know what a ‘Day at Hotwire’ is like – don’t worry I will be including the hour tube journey to get into work!! (Not going to lie, missed my Dubai taxi ride into work, all of 5 minutes).
Ok, I’ve always known that us humans use a VERY small percentage of our brain power, capability…sadly a major share of this amazing organ is left untapped, probably hoping every day that we will turn to its super powers to make things happen and the wait continues. I’ve read countless amazing stories, watched documentaries, and more over the years that have always captured my curious gene, my thirst for anything on science and medicine breakthroughs…
One lazy evening during my recent summer holiday in the UK, I watched a documentary on a British woman who woke up a few years ago (after a really crippling migraine) speaking English with a Chinese accent. She lost her Plymouth accent to a Chinese one, just like that. Boom….Can you imagine waking up one day and find you don’t sound the same when you talk? It would freak me out that’s for sure…and all my loved ones. A surreal situation but a reality for this woman! The cause remains unresolved for her, after countless neurological and psychological intensive tests, the brain activity looks normal with no signs of damage, or anything but what explains how a 38 old woman wakes up one day after a bad migraine with a different accent. Sadly, this condition, referred to as ‘Foreign Accent Syndrome’ has had a big impact on the woman’s life, sanity, and more. She suffers of daily debilitating migraines since, that make her a hostage in her own home and stuck with this foreign voice that comes out every time she speaks. She feels robbed of her own persona and wants it back understandably. She’s craving for her old self, and not the Chinese sounding one she’s stuck with for the foreseeable future and perhaps for the rest of her life….The power of the brain strikes again and proves how little we understand it, have a look at this YouTube documentary and tell me how you feel as you see this poor woman adjusting to a new and painful reality in her life.
We just can never underestimate the power or the brain, or what makes it tick….We think we are in control of things but actually its our mind that has all the controls…
Looking at the brain from a behavioral aspect and a much less serious case to the woman diagnosed with the Foreign Accent Syndrome, can you explain this story? What causes a woman to walk into a hair salon, with her son, and ask for her long hair to be shaved off. When asked why, she replies, ‘I want new hair, I am sick of my old hair’. She sits unphased whilst having her hair shaved off, oblivious of her young sons’, other stylists and customers’ shocked faces. For all of us, we are like, what made this woman decide she wanted all her hair shaved off? It had nothing to do with a boyfriend or husband split or a medical reason. The hair stylist who had to shave the woman’s hair off, can’t understand it to this day what compelled this woman to insist on shaving her hair off completely. She refers to it as the most bizarre & personally disturbing experience of her hairdressing career.
I can go on and on with an endless stream of fascinating stories depicting unusual, fascinating and in some cases unexplained human behavior or abilities….the common factor is our beautiful and incredible brain which we are a long way from truly understanding and/or coming close to fully using.
Starting out at Active PR I was immediately immersed into a world of technology, which was more exciting than I had imagined. I have always been one of those people who are a bit slow in keeping up with the latest gadgets, always spending a little extra time to figure out how they work. Yes, modern technology is taking over nearly every aspect of our lives, but I never realized to what extent until I was exposed to some of the products and solutions our clients at Active have to offer.
It’s a scary thought in a way, the pace at which it is impacting our lives. Smartphones, tablets and endless additional personal devices – just ten years ago none of these things existed and today most people won’t go a day with without them!
However, there are still some people who are reluctant to adapt these trends and believe they can live their lives ignoring these novelties for a variety of reasons (examples: being less personable, spending too much time indoors etc.) Others just don’t have the tech-factor and have difficulties understanding how it all works. In any case, ignoring it is not an option anymore. In today’s society, being technologically disadvantaged sets you back in endless ways, with the world making the shift to the online, smartphone reliant era.
Nowadays, you can control and access almost anything from the palm of your hand. Your smartphone is your flight ticket, your wallet, your camera, your GPS, and the list goes on and on…and on. For that reason, there is no place for skepticism when it comes to technology. Think of the following scenarios that might facilitate your life.
Scenario 1 – You’re at the airport and you’re running late to catch a flight. The queue is endless at the counter but there are kiosks available for ‘mobile check-ins’. By using your smartphone to check-in you save 45 minutes of queue time and have an extra 10 minutes to enjoy a nice cup of coffee before your flight!
Scenario 2 – Its New Year’s Eve and you want to take pictures of the fireworks with your smartphone but you also have to stay close by to your baby monitor in case your child gets woken up. Well, now you have the option of a smart phone baby monitor app, so all your needs are compacted into one single gadget.
These are just a few examples – there are millions (which by the way, I had no idea about before joining the team at Active). Anyway, the point is that technology can’t be avoided and if you’re trying to be non-conformist…it’s time to get in touch with your tech-y side.