Thursday, 5 February 2009

Turning the mirror back on PR

One commenter has requested we tackle the issue of PR; we agree - let's face it, half of you will end up working in PR anyway, so we're all for it.

How about we do PR for a while. Stop sending me 2009 calendars, stop 'reverting shortly', stop saying 'do you remember me, we worked together with...' (yes moron, i remember you - I'm not 94 years old). Stop filling every press release with the following words: solution, integrated, delighted, strategic, iconic, leading, inaugural.

Who gives a crap if a two bit company has been 'awarded' a contract? if the company is listed maybe, but most aren't so why bother - all it does is tell people how small the company actually is. Why do you approach me about clients you clearly know nothing about? Why do you think i would like to go to dinner with your insurance company client - even if it is free! If i say i'm not interested why do you approach my colleagues trying to get in that way - no means no!

Why, if your client's stock price is going down faster than a Somali hooker, aren't you having them talk to the public about how great their order book is? What the hell is your job if not to make the company more viable to investors?!?!?!

I could go on but i also know my co-media member friends will want to shout loud about the utterly ridiculous crap they receive and deal with each day. PR in the UAE, its not just the media that is full of people who couldn't get a job anywhere else.


Is there still no love lost between PR and media? If there are so many ex-journos in PR, why are the press releases still craply written? And, do any PR people have any balls? And do any of them truly understand deadlines - especially for news wires?

Update: and what happens when a magazine like MEED hires JiWin to do its PR? At a time when the construction and real estate industries are falling apart, will MEED have to stick its neck in to avoid upsetting some of JiWin's clients, like Sama Dubai, Tatweer, Tecom and Dubai International Capital?

111 comments:

Anonymous said...

The trouble is, you can be bad at PR ie unprofessional, illiterate, lazy etc, but still be profitable.

The fact is, PR agencies can hire the cheapest possible people to churn out rubbish knowing full well that most of it will get in to print and for this they can charge their clients good money.

PR's try and sell strategy, but the reality is that clients buy press coverage. So as long as the media keeps reprinting press releases, PR agencies can continue to produce bargain basement content sold at penthouse prices.

Anonymous said...

So which news outlet is the worst for publishing press releases?

curious said...

to wire journos: are there any PR agencies in Dubai that do understand what you are looking for and can provide a statement in less than two weeks with fewer than 17 sets of approval?

Anonymous said...

"The trouble is, you can be bad at PR ie unprofessional, illiterate, lazy etc, but still be profitable."

Doesn't that apply to ITP et al as well?

The standard of journalism is pretty low in Dubai.

Plus, journalists have to have shockingly low standards to make these PR people profitable.

It's all part of Du"Shit"bai in my humble opinion....

i*maginate said...

Bottom line is the key at hand, isn't it? - 1st point sums it up excellently.

Will said...

True, lazy PR thrives on lazy media. True, standards are low here. But not true that most agencies are content to sit back and rake it in. In fact most competent PR directors are overstretched and frustrated with the tiny pool of effective PR people who understand and support the media. Here, at least, there is still demand for good PR -- unlike London, for instance, where PR Week has four pages of jobs instead of 40. So hacks eyeing a move to the dark side can expect some competition on the overnight from Heathrow.

Anonymous said...

"So which news outlet is the worst for publishing press releases?" Answer: All of them. And it's the cut n pasting in the dailies here that is such a dead giveaway.
But, dont get too complacent. In the "free" west, we may not cut and paste releases, but we sure as hell have a media that repeats the views of publicists, argues on behalf of the powerful, and submits to vested interest. They just dont cut and paste - that's the only difference.

Anonymous said...

haha. im a publisher and you are all talking rubbish. there is value in PR. we all know it. use it. dont use it. good Pr is good. bad PR is bad. end of. can anyone actually disagree?

Anonymous said...

How about doing something useful and name the best and the worst. As the first commenter wrote, PR companies try to sell strategy and the top execs spend their days thinking up ways to sound smart, but clients really want press coverage.
The industry in Dubai fails miserably because it makes its weakest people deal with the press, which is understandable considering the quality of most journos here. But the cycle needs to be broken.

I try not to deal with PR firms so this list is not complete, just some observations.

Worst

Asdaa: Most people here don't know anything about who they are pitching, and the directors who do know spend can't get the clients to respond. Sunil is advising on too many scandals and should be questioned about conflicting statements released to the DFM.

Spot on: a lot of tech junk. Why should I be interested when a marketing manager for a US tech company comes to Dubai to launch a product that's been in the market for six months.

TRACCS: Useless.

Hill and Knowlton: decent when dealing with the bosses, but most employees know very little about their clients.

Jiwin: more thugs than professionals. They think that government connections will lead to coverage and deference. Journalists who like their work dream about being deported or jailed. It's the best way to get famous without being in an Al Qaida video.

** All the advertising /PR that shilled for real estate were especially bad. It seemed that they had their cleaning crews pitch interviews. (This wasn't meant to be racist - I am sure they are good cleaners).
With real estate in shambles, at least these losers will leave me alone.


Good

The financial PR firms are pretty good.
Brunswick
Capital MS&L
Financial Dynamics
They have fewer clients, know the industry, and make an effort to get answers. But they have to explain to bankers that the world has changed.
When I want a comment from Morgan, Citi, Merrill, or AIG, I expect a reasonable response, preferably from the regional chief executive. These government employees have to understand that they have a job thanks to taxpayer bailouts. They don't have to call me sir - boss or master will do.

As is customary on this blog, the absolute worst is:
ITP

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree. I agree you've used far too many full stops and not enough capital letters, you uneducated neanderthall. How's it going at ITP anyway?

Ben said...

I like to think that I've been around the media block a few times, and I can name three local titles that I see delivering genuine exclusives (ie not spoon fed or PR-driven) in-house. Stop tittering at the back, but these are: Arabian Business, The Insider and Time Out.
Before anyone shouts, and to explain my background a little, monitoring the region's media is my primary function. Im an R&D capacity, of sorts (yes, some companies still invest in that kind of thing!) I work for an established media brand and my current assignment has seen me based over here - checking you guys out, I guess. I'm sure I'll be meeting a lot of you in person over coming months.

Anonymous said...

@ Ben: Time Out I agree, Insider I haven't really read, but I think you're wrong on AB. From what I can see all their stories online have "reported The National" about halfway down.

Anonymous said...

Sky News plans to open a bureau in Dubai and Ashish Joshi, whose main experience is working for an Indian TV channel, will be the head!
Frankly, a journalist from Timbaktu or Fiji would have been much better.

Anonymous said...

AB absolutely kill the competition on the web, which is the only place that matters.

In google search and news, the first link to my stories (in The National) is more often than not to the rewrite of them posted by an AB "reporter."

As for PR, the standard is low - but with corporate culture here being so closed and secretive, it's a tough gig.

But I typically have had good experiences with Wallis / Portsmouth Group, and absolutely shit experiences with Orient Planet, who seem to be the most tinpot outfit in the country.

Anonymous said...

Anon 23.06 - What is Sky thinking? Surely it would be better to import a superior 25-year-old Brit from Bath or Leeds. Why bring in an experienced reporter who happens to be part of the majority race in the UAE?
The sad truth about Sky is that his nationality doesn't matter - what does is how quickly he can shine a light on the boozy, fat, pale Brits' sex life in Dubai.

Anonymous said...

@23:06 twat.

Anonymous said...

Ben, Timeout have little in the way of exclusives, they just plaster the 'exclusive' tag on their front cover despite the fact the National and What's On have already interviewed the same person without putting an exclusive tag on it. The latest issue of Time Out has "Fatboy Slim exclusive interview" on the front cover. How is that exclusive when What's On interviewed him a week earlier??

Anonymous said...

The business breakfast quite often beats them all to the story (unless of course its a Fahim/Boyrul story)

i know its not print but its always there or thereabouts

Anonymous said...

My 2 cents

Best PR = Spot On PR
Worst PR = Orient Planet

Anonymous said...

in-house PR people are pretty shoddy. Haven't dealt with a decent one yet.

Anonymous said...

orient planet's people seem to be actual idiots. not just pushy or clueless about media - actual idiots.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Orient Planet... simpletons.

Asda offer the bargain basement PR experience.

Gulf Hill & Knowlton good if you get the account directors rather than the charming, pretty and often ill-informed 'managers'.

Weber Shandwick can pull one out the bag, but only for its big clients.

Anonymous said...

jiwin/dubai press club - the worst by far.

Anonymous said...

Most of you people profess little respect for idiocy. Yet, statistically, some of you must be genuine idiots. If the average IQ is 100, is it possible to flourish in Dubai Media with an IQ of 90 or 95? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

(i am the original blogger, glad its not just me)

talking purely about media relations, and not about the wonderful and magical world of campaign forming:

Asda'a: useless. happy to offer johns car shop llc but fat chance of sending ENOC or Emaar over for a decent interview. has a few people on the ball but largely its full of people who have been there two months and will be gone in another four.

Jiwin: i quite often frown when i find out a company i need is handled by Jiwin, still, if you're owned by the wife of a minister you're not likely to lose clients so work ethic doesnt matter too much.

H&K: Lots of pretty girls (i recently met one extremely pretty H&K girl). mainly my dealing with them has been better than the average - and the pretty girls dont hurt!

FD Gulf: Hobday talks a good game but where are the results? also, emails not replied to, 'sorry, i forgot to call' - all too often it just doesnt come off.

momentum: efficient, well done them

Four: not bad but sometimes fail to get hold of people, that might not be their fault but its still annoying.

someone above got it spot on. PR's send their newest guys on media relation exercises - but the newest guys are usually the least informed, and if clients really do just pay for coverage this is a very poor practice.

PR, tsk.

tony said...

It would be nice if PR "professionals" took thirty seconds and looked up the meaning of RSVP. It means "respond if you please" in English. It doesn't mean "ring twice to ask if I am coming to your launch/press conference/CEO taking a shit to see if I am coming. If I was, I would have RSVP'ed.

Anonymous said...

Anon 23:06 7th Feb - What exactly is your problem with Ashish Joshi? He spent 10 years at Zee (not a small concern) as head of news and current affairs and has been at Sky since 2004. I think that CV makes him pretty qualified to run a bureau here?

Anonymous said...

I once called Jiwin and asked to speak to whoever handles the Dubailand account. They told me to call 181.

True story.

Anonymous said...

Time Out exclusives? Don't make me laugh - most of those celeb interviews are from places like Time Out London or New York. ALL the Time Outs share content. Even some film reviews etc are shipped in from Time Outs in other places. Quite simply Time Out Dubai don't have the budget - they don't even have their own photographers (despite this being part of their license agreement with London who know but don't care). Also Time Out Dubai staff are as much victims of ITP's 'groundbreaking' human resources (which is basically how can we fuck our staff over for as little as possible) as other ITPers. Staff turnover is MASSIVE with only the entrenched idiots at the top (who have never worked for ANY media outlet of note) keeping their snouts in the ITP trough.

Anonymous said...

@09.35 Oh, Zee News? That powerhouse of world media. Why didn't you say earlier. When Dubai's public need to know how many call centre girls in Bangalore also moonlight by giving shiners to travelling executives in the back booths, or how many back-to-back "blockbuster" movies about a poor kid from mumbai-turned-gangster-turned popstar-turned supermanesque world-savior... then we'll let Ashish Muralatiranngogluarianian know. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

02:21 You only see, and comment on, the Zee comment and ignore the main point of my post - he has been at Sky for 5 years and that he is probably over qualified to run a fledgling bureau here.

But why confuse matters with reasoned comment hey? Do you work for ITP perchance?

Maybe the Sky job should be given to a heavy hitter that has proved himself at the cutting edge of journalism for the last 15 years - what is Rob Corder doing these days?

Bassem Kronfli said...

@9:35. Haha! You are a racist prick, but a hilarious one at that.

Anonymous said...

to 9.35
its reasonable to say that one ashish joshi is worth 1000 of you, you wanker. what have you ever achieved in journalism? Being on this blog I guess.

Anonymous said...

Yes I indeed am racist. And yes indeed I work for ITP. I treat my Indian subordinates like they just dropped out of one of Gandhi's nappies. I've been at ITP for 7 years now and I probably get paid 3 times what you get paid, for doing half the job, and acting so xenaphobic most of the time that even the BNP in the UK and green with envy.

PR said...

Returning to the original rant - what makes you think that PRs can MAKE clients do anything? I have heard this so many times in the last few months and it's getting pretty annoying.

These are turbulent times for businesses. Not only faced with economic troubles, the media here is slowly becoming more investigative, more critical even. The global media has also tuned in and is freely commenting on how businesses and governments are doing. All of this is great for progress, but it has whipped the rug out from under many CEO's feet and is making them very cautious. Gone are the days when 'no comment' is an acceptable answer or a really vague statement will do the job.

We spend a lot of time educating clients on this new environment and the need for openness. But when we provide our best expert advice, based on experience and evidence, and fully laid out with consequences of alternative actions, to what extent can we MAKE the client accept and approve our recommendation? Especially when the people we get regular access to aren't always the ones making the decisions.

At the end of the day we are advisors who are paid to make a professional recommendation, and that's what a good PR consultant does.

Master said...

With 30 years experience in journalism prior to moving into PR, I am astounded by the crass, idiotic and yes, racist comments made by people who do not have the courage to put their name to their postings. There are good and bad in any industry, including the media where too many journalists are farmers rather than hunters of stories. This, I believe, has everything to do with the fear culture that pervades the UAE media - why risk your job by asking an awkward question? The result is that bad journalism breeds bad PR and vice versa. So, to all you 'hacks' - and I use the word in its true context - put your own house in order befiore trying to put the rest of the media world to rights. The phrases 'People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones' and 'The pot calling the kettle black' spring to mind. Oh yes, one last comment. I resent being called a thug, as I am sure my hard working and professional colleages at JiWin do also. If anyone is a thug, it is the anonymous individual who does not have the backbone to take ownership of his or her views.
Malcolm Ward, Group Account Director, JiWin.

Anonymous said...

See, I can't even spell nor construct sentences properly. ITP have been good with me. That just proves how well my life has turned out after borstal.

Anonymous said...

In defense of PR:

I admit the standards of PR aren't exactly high, but agencies would not exist if they were of no use to the media. Why would clients even sign up for the service in the first place? The fact is, there's no publication out there that doesn't rely on PR to some extent.

Anonymous said...

Agreeing with Malcolm Ward (to a degree).

I wish you lot could all spend a day working in PR. Deal with ignorant clients, and ignorant journalists, who have misplaced illusions of grandeur.

The number of journalists who are rude and conceited with me and my colleagues just because they sit on the other side of the desk (and have no idea of our backgrounds or capabilities) is staggering. Don't forget a lot of us were journos, and just because we're now in PR doesn't automatically mean we were a failed hack.

if i call up and pitch you a story myself, I know it's a story. At least have the courtesy to explain your logic (if you can, it's more likely you don't understand what I'm talking about).

Admittedly, that requires developing a working relationship with some PR people, which may be an anathema to you. But if you're smart enough, you'll work out which of us know our ass from our elbow.

Agency director

Anonymous said...

Please don't say Du"Shit"bai. if you don't like it leave it. No-one is forced to stay here.

Anonymous said...

Malcolm Ward, Group Account Director, JiWin.

'So, to all you 'hacks' - and I use the word in its true context - put your own house in order befiore trying to put the rest of the media world to rights. The phrases 'People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones' and 'The pot calling the kettle black' spring to mind. '

Cliches, as with PRs, avoid like the plague.

Anonymous said...

@ agency director 13.59:

I can spell better than most Dubai journalists as well. And I use the words "opulent", "unique" and "iconic landmark" less than most of them too.

Anonymous said...

James Mullan. He was good. Knew his stuff, able to get the best for his client but leave the journalist happy. Most importantly of all, he always knew where the beer was.

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to think journalists are believing their own hype as well as that of Dubai!

Anonymous said...

maybe Jiwin is already having an effect on Meed? "Streamlining" is a very PR word to use in this instance!

http://www.meed.com/news/2009/02/dubai_holding_considers_streamlining.html

Anonymous said...

one media member i know sends this out when he books a guest, (i laughed hard when i saw it, but its a shame he even has too :)

I've removed the company name so as not to embarrass him

Special Notes for PR companies:

1. If you are not accompanying your client to the studio please make sure the interviewee has the relevant number and knows to call when they arrive.

2. Please remember that *** is an English language station; please do not pitch guests who do not have a good command of the language.

3. Do not over prepare your clients. It does not look good on the station or the guest when an interviewee is stumbling through a pre-prepared script that the presenters have not seen – ‘media briefings’ are pasted into the booking calendar as a courtesy and your client should not expect to be asked the exact questions you supply. If you arrive on time there is plenty of opportunity for the interviewee to prep with the presenters.

Anonymous said...

message to Malcolm

I have a very high up role in journalism here, so I can say this with some degree of knowlegde: you are damn right. Most journalists here are very low grade. PRs, from what I have seen, are doing their best, they are professional, and some are pretty good. Journalists in UAE: vast majority (the ones from UK)are back stabbing wankers.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the PRs are winning the fight. Or maybe we journalists are in agreement - the PRs are a better calibre than we journalists?

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, oh dear more moral high grounds taken from both sides that journalists/PRs are all crap.

And it's true and we are all guilty. We have a media that is now not only effectively gagged but also self censors. We have PR companies that plainly lie - shock horror.

But everyone makes a buck and plays the game so why moan and bleat? The Dubai engine thrives on the disinformation of smoke and mirrors and plainly ignores the fact that there is such thing as the internet, foreign reporting and blogs (of which some are accurate and informed).

Malcolm, can you please tell your 'hardworking and professional' colleagues at Jiwin to enlighten the media on the current and true status of the Dubai Holding Group. Malcolm? .... Malcolm?

To the person 'high-up' in journalism. You oversee the 'back stabbing wankers' in your profession and you choose neither to censure nor to change.

We all came to Dubai wide eyed, full of excitement and expectant opportunity only to be slammed full on by the freight train carrying commerce, trade and business - not really known for ethics, honesty, truth or integrity.

Which leaves us in some parallel universe where we still believe in a private code of conduct whilst continuing to take the corporate dirham.

So either we're all a bunch of hypocritical, cynical, self serving and money grabbing leeches; or we're the victims of one of the biggest and most disrgaceful manipulations of the human psyche and spirit that has ever been perpetrated.

Your choice. I'm off down the pub.

Anonymous said...

Oh, at last. Sense and sensibility.

When I was a "hack" I had a drunken Scottish editor - no stereotypes there, then - who used to scream across the newsroom: "Laddie, this copy is spiked. How many times do I have to tell you: interrogate, corroborate, substantiate!" Clearly, that rarely happens in the rarified atmosphere of the desert.

Clearly, there are some feeble journalists in both senses of the word. Feeble because they are useless. Or feeble because they are petrified of falling foul of the media law (sic) and incuring the wrath and indignation of "the authorities" and losing their visa.

Now I am a "PR". And yes, I am feeble, too, but I am grateful for a job I enjoy hugely. It helps pay the bills and there is a real sense of achievement in some of the work we do which has a tangible effect on people's lives.

Equally, I believe in a small way we are having a positive effect on developing Arab talent as the region grapples with the whole evolutionary media / PR / communications transparency conundrum.

Things are changing. Slowly. The buzz of "social" media and "user generated content" provides regulators and law enforcers will real challenges and the judiciary, executive and corporate sector will have to learn the new rules of engagement.

Right. I'm off down the pub, too.

Anonymous said...

I'm not on either side, let me make that clear.

Many journalists in Dubai are greedy and lazy (passing off press releases as their own, inviting themselves to press events for free food and drink). But there are a few who are true to the profession and play fair game.

All PRs are certainly not born equal, but if the industry were Hollywood, JiWin would be Lindsay Lohan. Malcolm, I'd like to meet your 'hardworking' colleagues. The few that I've come across are sorry excuses for professionals.

Anonymous said...

Okay so let me get this right. You are hard working, and very, very professional with years of experience producing cutting edge work - inspiring role models to your staff.

So if that's the case... why are you both going to the fucking pub in the middle of the day?

Anonymous said...

Let's get one thing straight - some of this stuff goes on in London, NYC etc

However, Dubai is PR dominated. The call by some PRs here for objective journalism is laughable. PR is precisely about influencing the independence and objectivity of a journalist. This is achieved through carrots (promotional gifts, junkets etc) and sticks (denying access, threatening to withdraw ads, complaining to eds/publishers about writers etc).

Any yes journos buy into this - they want an easy life.

It is very very tricky to maintain complete independence from PRs these days. Journalists should do their upmost keep them at arms length.

And the fact remains that PRs don't like 'tricky' journos who are not on message. The same PRs will then make life difficult for them.

If you're a journo who has gone into PR - too bad if journos don't respect you or are not polite. Too many journos have had too many bad experiences with PRs who are, effectively, just 2nd hand car salesmen.

fed up said...

I work in marketing but even I can see that journos in Dubai don't push hard enough in the face of corporate lies (going back to Jiwin and the state of Dubai Holding). No wonder PR people don't take you seriously .... You know you're being lied to, but you sit back and take it.

1. Corruption and backhanders in real estate. The news wires have run stories about arrests but what's the betting those were just the fall guys?

2. The state of the economy and groups like Dubai Holding. I know suppliers who have been told to cancel their invoices for Sama Dubai as they won't get paid. If Dubai Holding won't bail out people owed money by one of its subsidiaries, it is hardly setting a good example.

3. Nakheel and pollution ("it doesn't matter if coral is destroyed as it's dead anyway"). You can't tell me that there was no after-effect after the oil tanker crash this week. We saw the photos on The Times website. And, even if they got lucky, shouldn't Nakheel show that they are double checking? being responsible corporate citizens?

4. We know the beaches are polluted and the water is disgusting. We have eyes. So how come people aren't being called to answer this, instead of claiming beaches are fine and Dubai's about to win an award?

The media has got to take responsibility and start forcing these officials to answer tough questions. Maybe then you will force PR people to get better as well.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 15:31 who wrote: "Let's get one thing straight - some of this stuff goes on in London, NYC etc"

You seem to have forgotten one teensy weensy little facet. They are democracies. Dubai is not.

Er, 'free' and 'speech' are words that come to mind. In Dubai, PR and journalism are just window dressing.

Still haven't heard back from Malcolm...

Anonymous said...

@15:20
I know, it's outrageous. Should be there for 11am opening.

@15:31
Oh, come on. Journalists here are so incredibly polite when they really don't need to be. Neither is it expected. School of hard knocks and all that. Jeez, even the most irascible are pussycats to those in the yUK.

And no, the call for objective journalism is not laughable. It will help a) "society" evolve, b) the media mature and c) the PR industry work harder and actually be able to provide clients with proper "value added" advice and counsel.

And that can only be good news for everyone - and especially those poor downtrodden, misunderstood PR flunkies that really understand the business, how the media works and have the gumption to say "no" to clients.

It's a pity that so many journalists don't have the gumption to test the media law and pressure companies in to becoming more transparent.

Anonymous said...

@ 15.52
what goes around comes around?

DP World dips to an all time low
United Arab Emirates: Thursday, February 05 - 2009 at 19:25

The UAE's leading port operator DP World, which is listed at Nasdaq Dubai, dipped to an all time low of U$0.19. Shares of DP World dived by 13.64% on Thursday. None of the other 19 securities being listed at Dubai's international exchange was traded.

Malcolm Ward said...

Everyone seems to have missed the point of my original contribution. Why is everyone so afraid to put their name to their posts? I seem to be the only person willing to put my name to my views! I would have a lot more respect for those who criticise myself, or the company I work for, if they would put their name to their comments. Put up or shut up - or is that a cliche?
Malcolm Ward Group Account Director, JiWin

Anonymous said...

What is going down in Abu Dhabi?

News that Edward Borgerding has been on a trip to meet with Martin Morgan to woo him to ADMC to replace Gavin Dickenson

So what of the fate of the darling media player??

Anonymous said...

PRs exist to manipulate and lie on behalf of their sponsors. Journalists are there to shed light on what the PRs' paymasters want hidden. End of.

Anonymous said...

@15:20

"So if that's the case... why are you both going to the fucking pub in the middle of the day?"

Becosh, I dun a fifeen hndred word feature, too innerviews, and free news peeshes by midday, hic.

Unlike the young tawt over my shoulder whos been fashebooking for free ours, playing online poker, twittering, googling pron, applying to IPT for a, burp, job and woodn't know a standfirsht from a STET. And who still finks he's Duncan bleedin' Campbell.

This numbs the pain quite nicely. Hic... burp... ad nauseum.

Anyone seen Malcolm yet?

Anonymous said...

absolutely the call for objective journalism is not laughable - PRs calling for it is though.

Anonymous said...

Not to thread-jack, but how about some comments on this story?

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/12/world/middleeast/12dubai.html?em

Anonymous said...

Just to respond to Malcom's comment - I worked in journalism for six years before moving to Dubai three years ago, and I can say with absolute certainty that Jiwin is the most incompetent PR agency I have ever dealt with. More amusingly, four separate clients have told me they were forced to use Jiwin, because of their link to the government. If Jiwin actually had to compete in an open market for clients, it wouldn't have any. Full of shite PRs who do bugger all, never respond to emails or calls, are completely incapable of getting you a comment - mill around uselessly at events, without a speaker schedule or anything else to actually organise interviews with...and the list goes on. Spot On is shite, Orient planet laughable - but Jiwin is still by far the worst.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps JiWIN are better at dealing with Arabic newspapers? Their clients are more interested in reading their stories in Al Khaleej, Ittihad, Emarat Al Youm and Al Bayan than GN or TN or ITP...

Wondering if there are any Arabic journos who read this and can give an idea if PRs aid them more than the Indlish media?

Anonymous said...

Can we start a new thread regarding the latest government portal over at TO?

The following article should be enough proof that the ITP boys & girls have given up trying to be "balanced" in their reporting

http://www.timeoutdubai.com/knowledge/features/6433-debt-in-dubai;#listcomment

Anonymous said...

I can safely say Jiwin are crap, they are more interested in screwing over their clients, I love their hidden mark up's as a supplier they expect you to add % hidden from the client in your invoice so they get 12.5% then they mark it up again when it goes to the client. Then they don't pay you...why not give the account team each a gun so they just rob their clients in broad day light. They use the word professionals, half of the people there can't even spell the word, let a alone know the meaning of the word.

Jiwin - The Dick Turpin of PR - Highway Robbery, but it just goes to show, you can still be shit as long as your connected.

Eliot - Editor, AdNation said...

Sigh. And yet more people miss the point of Malcolm's comment - and, frankly, it's getting to the point where I really wonder how thick you actually have to be by responding anonymously to a comment calling for named posts. At least think up a nickname!

Malcolm - since you've asked, and no one else is volunteering, I would say in my reasonably limited opinion, your "glass houses" comment and suggestion for journos to put things in order are just a smidgin inappropriate.

JiWin are by no means the worst agency I've ever dealt with, but most of my contact with your agency has veered between the more-or-less acceptable and the vaguely incompetent - put it this way, I'm unsurprised by the suggestion that someone at JiWin might have told a hack to call information.

I'm not claiming I'm all that hack-wise, or have the definitive last word on what IS great PR - but JiWin ain't it.

At the same time, I have sympathy for the "most journos are shite" POV - but that's no excuse to act holier-than-thou and not sort out your own problems.

Maybe we'd all care more if someone were actually reading all this stuff we pump out...

Anonymous said...

It is - as always - six of one and half a dozen of the other. What about the media that call you and ask to speak to Clients at Agencies only for the PR person to get them frantically in the airport lounge in Nairobi to expetc a call and none comes. PR person "Hi, I got Mr X on the phoen and he was expecting your call 30 minutes back..." - Journo "Oh yeah sorry i got cuaght up, can he do it now?" ...."Er no...he is er on a plane....." Read very P Off!

Sadly there are Agencies that are just plain crap and all other PR people can do is go out there day after day and prove their own worth and value to their Clietns, to media and to each and every person, community and media vehicle they are dealing with..."

All to easy to have a go at the low hanging fruit - its like blaming the tax man!

The issue is way more complex and no one here is spotless!

Anonymous said...

While reading website: MediaStyle, I happened to come across this terrible article about an extremely unprofessional journalist who verbally abused a client on the internet. He then goes on to say he will be moving to Abu Dhabi to join a newspaper there. "I’m quitting the National Post for a job at a newspaper in Abu Dhabi" says David George-Cosh.
I sincerely hope he will not be joining the National, as myself and others will surely stop supporting a newspaper which supports and hires such unprofessional, abusive staff.
The language he uses is completely unacceptable and I am sure would not be considered to be in line with Islamic values or normal business ethics.
Many thanks
Morris
http://www.mediastyle.ca/2009/02/national-post-reporter-has-total-twitter-melt-down/

Anonymous said...

Malcolm, where did you work before Gulf News?

Anonymous said...

heh - Malcolm Ward's illustrious thirty years in journalism climaxed as editor of The Peninsula in Qatar, a state progaganda rag.

He was fired, not for exposing bad government, or new ideas, but for exposing tits:

http://www.freemedia.at/cms/ipi/freedom_detail.html?country=/KW0001/KW0004/KW0102/&year=1998

courageous in its own way, i suppose...

Anonymous said...

Who else on here thinks Malcolm is a pompous twat?

Anonymous said...

Oh, hullo Malcolm. Nice to see you're back.

Probably the reason why people don't post under their name is that:

A) They'll get the sack

B) They'll probably get a late night knock on the door from the thought police resulting in a nice haircut for a month and lots of Pakistani boyfriends.

C) They don't sycophantically praise the company they work for and its dubious political connections. Look what happened to Secret Dubai Diary.

Now Malcolm, try either a tiny little critique of your face saving clients or your obviously stellar staff and you'll be back on the Swindon Advertiser before we can say 'wasta'.

I just love integrity, don't you?

Anonymous said...

Oh, hullo Malcolm. Nice to see you're back.

Probably the reason why people don't post under their name is that:

A) They'll get the sack

B) They'll probably get a late night knock on the door from the thought police resulting in a nice haircut for a month and lots of Pakistani boyfriends.

C) They don't sycophantically praise the company they work for and its dubious political connections. Look what happened to Secret Dubai Diary.

Now Malcolm, try either a tiny little critique of your face saving clients or your obviously stellar staff and you'll be back on the Swindon Advertiser before we can say 'wasta'.

I just love integrity, don't you?

Anonymous said...

About 10 years ago there existed two very well paid editors in a Dubai media organisation who previously had done stints in a tin-pot African dictatorship.

Over a few drinks one night they delighted in telling me about the regular monthly meetings they had with the Chief of Police where they 'enlightened' him about the conversations they'd had with fellow dissenting and critiquing local colleagues.

Strange then, that their colleagues mysteriously 'disappeared' some time after that.

Of course, that would never happen here, would it?

Anonymous said...

Malcolm should get a job in a real agency. We your clients Malcolm who to treat like shit and do the worst work ever, which we pay over the odds for are FORCED TO USE THE AGENCY. I agree with someone's comments earlier that if Jiwin had to pitch for business in the free market they wouldn't have any clients. No one would hire them they are a bunch of idiots..but what can we their esteemed clients expect...oh yeah some work out of them would be good..What do expect when he has a MD who is a useless as a chocolate fireguard...and the reason we don't but our names at the end of the posts is because your asshole MD would have us fired....

Anonymous said...

12.12 comment..Ouch and that from one of the clients, I do have to agree their MD is a bit of a moron and full of shit, but when your clients say things like this about the agency they work with...maybe he should be looking for a job with Malcolm at the Swindon Advertiser...Malcolm bet you wished you had kept your mouth shut now!!!

Anonymous said...

Yesterday's Reuters piece on Dubai Holdings, ahem, restructuring:

http://uk.reuters.com/article/rbssFinancialServicesAndRealEstateNews/idUKLF26579220090215

This para says it all really:

"The public relations company representing the Dubai state-controlled groups declined to elaborate on the statements or comment on job cuts."

Malcolm?.... Malcolm!?

Anonymous said...

I see none of the local rags are running this story then...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/feb/16/tennis-shahar-peer-uae-visa

Mind you, the WTA are so desperate for cash they would have torched the poor girl themselves if it meat a few extra bucks.

Anonymous said...

New thread coming soon?
We (ITP) have closed another two magazines today...(thought I would get in there first)
My good friend over the road at Motivate tells me they are going to announce one more 'suspension' in the next few days.
Any guesses?

Anonymous said...

New thread please:

The National hires weird, abusive creep

The subject of this hilarious piece of digital shaming has been hired by The National

http://valleywag.gawker.com/5152016/canuck-rag-regrets-tech-reporters-twitter-tirade

Seems like jobs for all and sundry in Abu Dhabi these days...

Anonymous said...

Jiwin are just incompetent, Al Tayer's in-house PR on the other hand is nothing short of catastrophic.

Anonymous said...

I work for the National and we had the Peer story in today's paper.

Anonymous said...

Malcolm, I admire your courage in posting under your own name, but the fact remains that, in my experience at least, Jiwin simply are not very good. They are far from the worst, but it once took me two entire weeks of chasing to get some basic images of a client sent to me. It was only when I started shouting that they pulled their fingers out. There really is no reason why stock images can't be sent within a few minutes of the request being made.

I've never dealt with you Malcolm but I'm going to assume you know what you're doing. If that's the case then Jiwin suffers from the same problem as most of the agencies in the UAE; that they are headed up by a few directors who know their stuff, but who concentrate primarily on pitching for new business. Once a client has signed they rarely see those people again - instead their account is handled by a bunch of poorly-paid, extremely junior staff, many of whom doubtless have difficulties tying their shoelaces in the morning, let alone actually managing a client's image.

Charging a large monthly retainer then recruiting the cheapest possible people to simply churn out press releases is not PR. When an actual issue arises, refusing to comment and hoping it will go away is not PR. I actually blame the clients for accepting it and failing to demand more for their money.

I'm not suggesting that journalism here is great - it isn't - but this thread is about PR, the standard of which is generally extremely low.

Anonymous said...

I have dealt with a fair share idiots in PR agencies .. but there are certain companies that exceed, by light-years, the acceptable realms of incompetence.

I remember NettResults once submitted a media list that confirmed attending a press conference which Nick Leighton (the company owner/MD) was organizing for us the next day.

The list included the following:

1. a dead journalist
2. a journalist who is based in London
3. an editor that left the country a year before

Mind you, only 2 people attended the conference on the following day.

"You get what you pay for," I told my boss on that hilarious day.

He fired them that afternoon.

Anonymous said...

I find this whole discussion counter-productive to say the least. Bashing PR agencies or even 'hack' journos does not reflect professionalism at all; in fact most of the comments here are downright nonsensical and bordering on farce.

The responsibility for improvement lies with everyone working in the media, either as a journalist or a PR professional.

As a PR professional, you know that it is an uphill battle to get a client to comment on an issue you know they should be commenting on (and doing it on time). As a journalist, respect the fact that a PR person is limited by their client's willingness to talk and share information. If a client says no - despite my advice - I'm sorry, but I can't help you get what you need.

I'm proud of the agency that I work for. Like all agencies in this country, we are not perfect and sometimes not even good - but we are trying and hopefully it will pay off in the long run.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 13.27, as a PR consultant, I can inform and advise my Client that he/she should speak to the media, but that's not to say they'll take my advice.

Quite often, when dealing with global brands, the decision is not often made by the regional Marketing Manager / Managing Director etc, but by the global legal team in the U.S or Europe. This process itself can take two weeks, and whilst we follow up and plead for an approval to give you guys what you want in a timely manner, quite often it just doesn't make a difference.

Saying that, not answering emails and phone calls, making up media attendance lists for events and general lack of common sense is inexcusable.

Anonymous said...

There is so much wrong with PR in the Middle East (slow to comment, inane press releases, expectation that a paper will 'print our release please', but very little of it is due to the agencies.



Equally, there is a lot wrong with journalism here (unimaginative, overstretched, unwilling to ask real questions) but I rarely blame the journalists themselves.



Face it- there's very little consequence to anything published in the papers here, and a horrible politio-corporate mess which has everyone rushing for the easiest way out of any problem.



Which gives journalists and PRs alike no desire to do their jobs properly.



Anyone complaining should either do something brave and get deported/sacked, or leave of their own accord and go to work in a country where 'quality' isn't just a press release synonym for 'luxury'.



Either way, if you're keen to do a proper job, you're heading home. I know I am.


ZD, Bedfordshire

Ram said...

Well, on a thought .. I googled Malcolm Ward, because I once worked for him at The Peninsula, and curious to know where he is now ... Bang!! he is good ol courageous guy I knew him to be. When I left Doha, I told myself never to return to the Persian Gulf, couldn't take it. The journalism there is a joke guys ... so can't say much about PR stuff ... gotta be the same. If you guys all believed in yourself and want to work in the free world, go back to your countries. If you are in Arab world, shut the f**k up and put up with mediocrity in all walks of life.

Anonymous said...

These idiots who get on blogs and beat off about how great their "free world" media markets are and how mediocre it all is here are just boring neo-colonialist lightweights cowering behind their long since expired perceptions of cultural superiority. Stay in your village, we all left to get away from boorish fools like you.

Anonymous said...

For those who think that Jiwin can't win any accounts on their own merit, please think again. Jiwin has just won the Mohammed bin Rashid Foundation brief in a four-way pitch.

Jiwin also won the NASDAQ Dubai brief after beating out 3 other financial PR agencies.

No, I don't work for them, and no I don't have any vested interested in how the company performs.

I just don't think that the Jiwin bashing on this blog is completely fair or accurate.

ps. H&K does seem to use a lot of pretty girls. But can they deliver?

Anonymous said...

"Jiwin has just won the Mohammed bin Rashid Foundation brief in a four-way pitch."

Well that is certainly absolutely staggering and perhaps the most impressive thing I have heard in many months, if not decades.

A government-owned PR agency wins a government-owned account.

Huge congratulations to Jiwin for such a stunning example of merit. Actually it's the most amazing thing I have heard in centuries, and I am sitting here weeping with wonder and admiration for them.

Anonymous said...

the Jiwin bashing is fair and accurate. They are shite. I worked for a PR agency that had won a govt account before it was gifted to Dubai Press Club/Jiwin an hour before contract signing.

Anonymous said...

Government bodies go through the motions of holding pitches then give the work to jiwin anyway. They're not given a choice. That's common knowledge - just ask any of their clients.

I assume the previous poster is referring to du. Again, it's common knowledge they were about to sign with Hill and Knowlton - GHK had already staffed up - when they were told to switch to jiwin.

Anonymous said...

I thought du was going to sign up with MS&L not H&K before the shift happened.

For those not in the know, Hill & Knowlton is the official PR agency for the Government of Dubai/Executive Office. They manage the whole Dubai brand both in UAE and globally.

Just ask Dave Robinson - he's been working on this for the past 3 years.

Anonymous said...

The winner

--not returning calls, emails and repeated requests for an interview after being promised one - Asdaa Dubai with their Emaar account

Second runner up
02 - you might interview the second in charge who you know nothing about nor has seen your qts
and then never get back

Third - Communigate's copywriters for fooling them with a standard three page release full of BS.

Four - Landmark PR for not even knowing what is wrong with their release. sweet

mo the barman said...

Hear ye and hear him, 18:20. Perhaps what this site needs is a 'positive' outpost??

Seriously people, there's a lot of decent media out here. (alongside the mediocre, as with any market).

Of course, the ME hasn't been going as long as the western market, but it is on fast-track. I last worked here a few years ago but I've been back three weeks, and I've been impressed with what I've seen in terms of development, and in terms of magazines that have launched since I've been overseas. I've spent the last three weeks dedicating my time to playing catch-up on rival publishers' titles, and I have to admit to being surprised at the quality of some.
Examples:

Emirates woman is as good as anything in its category I have seen in markets outside the UK. Viva isn't far behind, to be fair.

iQ is an original concept I haven't personally come across outside of the UAE. Impressive writing and original-sounding content on a weekly basis.

Hello is a decent immitation of the international versions. In many ways, it's better (ie more local content - some rely heavily on the franchise because they can). The editors have done a decent job.

iD is as good as it gets in terms of lifestyle/home content and look, outside of Wallpaper. Emirates Home has had to close down as it pales in comparison.

Time Out Dubai is possibly as good, if not better, than its UK (and certainly its international) counterparts.

Ahlan is a decent local alternative to Heat. If Heat hadn't developed as it has, Ahlan could have launched in the UK. It's very 'not on the spot' with celebrities, but it reports everything. The website and the distribution certainly 'power' it.

The Insider is a unique magazine (ie somewhere between Grazia and Heat) with actual news other than rehashed celebrity content. Impressed by its international writers, as they break stories ahead of (local?) Ahlan writers.

Arabian Business actually breaks stories. I check the site every day. Beats The National to the story every time.

Windows ME - I was asked to launch a rival to tap into the PC user market and I don't think I could. It seems to have the market nailed in terms of breaking stories and that can't be broken overnight. I don't think there's an international title that could rival its content in the region. In fact, that's as about an established/unbreakable title as I could name.

Close but no cigar merits go to:

Communicate/Media Week and to a lesser extent Campaign - in my opinion all look the part but lack in real breaking news. They all look nice enough for the niche but rely on Arabian Business for stories.

Stuff - a worthy franchise that trumps Charged every time. Good local writing staff and good international content in a presentable format, but our audience just isn't wide enough to make it mainstream.

Car - does what it says on the tin so will always appeal to its audience.

Anyway, that's what I have garnered so far. I suggest you purchase a copy of each before passing judgement. If there were to be a fair reflection of media in the UAE/Gulf region, from an international observer, I don't think this would be fair from the reality. Of course, I may have missed some out. And, to qualify, I'm in a predominantly editorial role - so I'm not judging on sales/revenue performance.

I don't write on here often, but I will check back for opinions.

Anonymous said...

To 23:29:

"I last worked here a few years ago but I've been back three weeks"

"Stuff - a worthy franchise.....but our audience just isn't wide enough to make it mainstream."

Our audience?

Welcome back Jason.

Anonymous said...

the comment at 23.29 managed to praise titles from all publishers - someone that's trying not to burn bridges? Some of the comments are totally random and the praise for Insider and iQ is misplaced. What's the betting ENG has received this person's CV, either past or present?

Anonymous said...

"Time Out Dubai is possibly as good, if not better, than its UK (and certainly its international) counterparts."

You're having a fucking laugh me old china plate.

Time Out Dubai is very poor. The content is as weak as the Dubai economy, the writing average and the style/design non-descript. It doesn't even have it's own photographer!

It champions appalling campaigns (the golden heart thing or whatever the fuck it was called) and is ruled by sales to an unhealthy level (sales dudes screaming in writers' faces, anyone?).

The editor wouldn't know a story if it bit him on the arse while its guiding light, Rob Corder, is probably the most over-promoted, least-talented person in the whole of Dubai.

As for Time Out London (what is Time Out UK??), it is looking likely to go bust, its editor has just walked and the crappy, stifling building it is based in could soon be sold off.

Time Out NY is the one dim lightbulb in a diminishing brand that might not even exist in a year.

And the reason for that...? Well, Time Out London lost out to the internet in a very harsh way and failed to get on-board at the right time.

A similar problem could kill off Dubai's nascent media industry. At the moment Dubai is far too restrictive to unshackle the online world and thereby deliver new revenue streams.

The future of journalism and the media is multi-platform, multi-content and very flexible. Chris Cramer, the head of Reuters realises this (http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=6&storycode=43227&c=1) and you lot over there better wake up soon and realise that the tired old ways of working, producing content and the fucking awful management from the likes of Serafin etc are all history.

If you've never had a career outside of Dubai you're also like to be considered something of a leper.

My advice (ok, I'll shut the fuck up now)?

Learn Mandarin.

mo the barman said...

Hello again.
Thanks for the largely sensible feedback.
Perhaps some of the titles I mentioned did seem rather random and yes, there are a few from each of the major publishing players. but i wasn't talking about the poor titles - I'm sure all those companies have a decent proportion of those too.
Not sending CVs out though - I have a job here, and would gain nothing from posting on here I'm sure!

Anonymous said...

> the Jiwin bashing is fair and accurate.
I was doing PR for an IT company at GITEX one year. It was in a "themed zone" represented by Jiwin. Two of their reps had been briefed to try to poach the client from the firm I worked for. This hapless duo approached me in order to do this, as if I was the General Manager of the IT firm. Five fucking times. Finally, they tried again on the off-chance I might relent and given them the contract after TWO face-to-face to meeting where I told I was not the person they were looking for.

Anonymous said...

Regarding best and worst PR agencies, it all depends on who actually handles your account. I have worked with very good and very bad teams in three different agencies.

Having said that, i don't believe any PR Agency in the Middle East scores an A grade just yet.

Communigate is proactive and hands-on agency.

Four Communications is unprofessional and very pushy.

Orient Planet gets solid media coverage and turn out at press conferences out of all agencies i have dealt with.

Anonymous said...

This is a peach from that PR agency we all love to hate, Asda'a: "KidZania® readies for opening at The Dubai Mall offering role-play edu-tainment for children." I work for a financial newspaper....'nuff said....

Anonymous said...

It is funny how the same applies to all media outlets here.
"The trouble is, you can be bad at Journalism ie unprofessional, illiterate, lazy etc, but still be profitable".
The fact is, publishers can hire the cheapest possible people to churn out rubbish to print and for this they can charge their advertisers good money.
Here is a managing editor in a publishing house who managed to go international for his fifth grade language skills. enjoy and I dare you get the link to his story:
shortened URL:
http://tinyurl.com/6dkuex
full URL:
http://www.debbieschlussel.com/archives/2008/11/why_are_michiga.html

Anonymous said...

Communigate is the pushy agency. It is tiresome having to edit their their press releases, which have the clients' name in caps at least 10 times throughout the release and very little substance.
Sahara sends the same release four times. Some of the agencies send the same release on different days hoping that a tired editor might just about use it.
When you call them, they tell you that it was the second list for the magazines and apologise.
Sweet.

muhammed said...

I'am an Arab Journalist, and honestly i feel that some of the comments made on this blog are more to do with racism.

I personally have had shitty experiences with Spot On & H&K.

Spot On: Very arrogant people, highly unprofessional & yes to mention their arabic quality -it is very poor.

H& K: their arabic press releases are a total crap..

george said...

Hey guys..I came across this website and thought should drop in my opinion too for the PR agencies in Dubai. By far the worst that I have experienced is with O2.My last interactions with them was with the PR guys, and trust me they are nothing but a piece of shit.
I don’t understand, but for some odd reasons they carry this attitude of being the best in this industry, but unfortunately it is the other way round.
Their quality of work needs some serious attention.
02= 0 quality + 0 services ;)

Juliette said...

Well, Muhammed, sorry you feel this way but some people find this topic pretty disturbing. I'm sure they didn't mean to be mean, they just have different opinion about the same thing.

Anonymous said...

PR agencies are not newswires! Press releases they write are for the info of the journalists who are supposed to take the initiative and write their own stories using the press release as a background. If you don't like the quality of the press release pick up the phone and request for an interview to get more info and write it your way. Or dont publish it!Why else are you getting paid for, to copy paste the PR agency's rubbish release?
Most PR agencies have people who cant write neither Eng or Arabic. Agencies like the pompous ASDAA Burson Marsteller have an editorial team who try to cover up for the incompetency of its illiterate directors. I think H&K is a great agency exhibiting good quality work, so is TBWA which is probably one of the best agencies that treats its people well unlike ASDAA Burson Marsteller(from what I have heard from its ex-employees) who hires people at low salaries and fires them in unprofessional/childish manner according to the whims and fancies of Mr.John and his team of sycophant, incompetent,crooked team of directors whose job is to nod at everything he says!
If people are treated well they would be motivated to improve their quality of work!Unfortunately HR takes the backburner in this region.
Jiwin might be a crap agency but Malcolm is a good fellow who churns out very good quality work. But what can one person alone do?Like him there are some good people in the PR industry here but unfortunately the bad ignorant lot have given the industry a bad name!
- By a Freelancer who is trying to better the quality of PR in this region..tough ambition!