Welcome to this exclusive interview with Rowaidah Bibers, a public relations guru with a wealth of experience in the industry. As the founder and CEO of The PROS, one of the leading PR firms, Rowaidah has worked with a diverse range of clients, helping them build their brand and reputation in the market.
Her strategic approach, innovative ideas, and strong communication skills have earned her a reputation as one of the most sought-after PR professionals in the industry. In this interview, we’ll dive deep into Rowaidah’s journey, her insights on the current state of the PR industry, and her tips for aspiring PR professionals. So, sit back, relax, and get ready to be inspired by Rowaidah’s expertise and experience.
What encouraged you to enter the PR field?
17 years ago, I heard about the public relations field for the first time, with little knowledge of what the profession is all about. However, this was more than enough to grab my attention and intrigue me to learn more about it. I got the chance to work in a multinational PR agency where I learned more about the profession, industry practices, and importance of PR for companies and brands to build and manage their reputation and effectively communicate with their target audience. I found meaning and purpose in working as a PR professional where I got to practice my own set of skills and develop it even more. The challenges you face every day dealing with different clients from different sectors encourage me to keep going because there is always more to see and learn.
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What encouraged you to take the risk of leaving POD and starting your own company?
I have been working in the PR field for more than 17 years with some of the strongest and most reputable companies in the market but it was about time to embark on my own journey! PR is my passion and building a business you are passionate about is a dream for many; I am very happy to say that now I am pursuing my dream and passion. Starting The PROs has required devotion, time, and teamwork and I am really honored with where we have come so far.
What’s your favorite Ramadan campaign this year?
Ramadan is known for its sense of creativity especially when it comes to advertising and creative campaigns. The viewership and engagement rates are higher which creates an atmosphere of healthy competition for everyone to show their best. For me, I think the main characteristic of the ads this Ramadan is the real-life connection and relatability. My personal favorite is Magdy Yacoub Foundation’s advertisement! The ad captures different moments where children can be mood changers by just being the innocent and pure-hearted humans they are. The part that I appreciate very much about this ad is the fact that it showed us how valuable children’s unique feelings are and how happy and full of life they can be despite the pain or challenges they are going through. Eventually, this evokes people’s emotions and urge towards donating to save those little hearts.
Do you prefer to launch the campaign before Ramadan, during Ramadan, or on the first day? And why?
My answer would be the first day of Ramadan to be present from the beginning and create an impact on viewers from the start. Viewers wait to see campaigns executed by different companies, just as they wait to see series. Hence, brands and marketers should take this into consideration and make the best out of this occasion to build relationships with the audience through relatable, creative, and memorable work that positions the brand at the top of the mind and creates a rapport with the audience.
Can you tell us 5 favorite Ramadan campaigns in chronological order starting with 1 your favorite and 5 is your least favorite and tell us why?
This year’s Ramadan advertisement race has been very competitive but Magdi Yacoup Foundation’s ad remains my favorite as I mentioned earlier. Then comes Orange’s campaign, “Bab Rizk”. I love the idea behind this ad as it didn’t only include an emotional song that is very touching and close to our hearts, but it also included ways where we can support small businesses in our daily life. The ad also gives hope to those small businesses and encourages them to work hard as hard work always pays off. The third place goes to Vodafone’s “Shokran men Hena Le Bokra” as it is a reminder of all the individuals who formed the support system throughout different stages of one’s life and different types of relationships and how thankful and appreciative we should be towards them. Then comes Etisalat by e& ad which sends a crucial message that I personally believe in, which is everyone should only challenge and compete with themselves in order to succeed and become a leader and pioneer in their field. Finally, the incredibly cheerful and colorful campaign of Fresh with its memorable jingle, vivid colors, and cool music that help enhance brand recalling among the audience.
What are the learned lessons from this year’s Ramadan campaigns?
People’s reactions to ads and engagement on the different platforms give valuable insights into what the audience is looking for, what impacts them and what makes them favor one brand over the other. The key takeaway from this Ramadan is the fact that the audience is more drawn toward cheerful ads rather than sad ones. This leads to another insight, which is building connections with the audience through a positive and relatable campaign during the holy month. It is not about carrying out the biggest campaign or spending the most money, it is about relating and connecting with the viewers who are impatiently waiting for Ramadan to see what each brand has to offer and which brand will remain in their minds even after Ramadan. Furthermore, in the case of a celebrity endorsement in the campaign, which is a widely-used tactic during Ramadan, brands have to be very careful in choosing a celebrity that sincerely reflects the brand values and essence and speaks to the target audience.
As a female entrepreneur, do you even get asked “How are you balancing your home and work?” If yes, how do you handle these types of questions?
Absolutely all the time! It is one of the questions that people are always striving to find the correct answer to. However, I explain that there is no right or wrong answer to this question as the best way to achieve work-life balance is very unique to each and every individual, their needs, their responsibilities, their capabilities, and their priorities. For me, I constantly set boundaries between my work and my personal life where I get to pinpoint when each of them ends and when they start. I identify my priorities, values, and goals and try to align them with each other. Then, top all of that with effective time management to try and balance it all.
Since The PROs is also specialized in crisis management, what is the most memorable crisis you managed, and how did you manage it?
Each member of The PROs top management team has successfully managed several crises that vary in their intensity throughout their years of experience in the PR field. Some of these crises did not even see the light, they were managed before going out to the media or the public. Preventing a crisis from happening is the best crisis management strategy ever, which is why we care the most about being cautious of the risks that could result in a crisis to prevent it before it takes place through a very well-studied crisis management plan crafted by a team of experts on the matter.
What are the challenges you overcame as a Founder?
Starting your own business is a challenge in itself, but finding the best-fit employee comes with its own set of unique challenges. The field of PR is one of the most dynamic professions that require a truly talented personality that is paired with a certain set of skills to excel in it. In PR, especially agencies, every day is different and comes with its own challenges and experiences, and finding suitable candidates for the job who have the required skills, but most importantly have the ambition and enthusiasm towards the profession. The level of experience and dedication is another important element I am also keen to factor in when choosing a team member. This is why I personally select every single employee and I set through every interview to evaluate candidates and make the correct decision. People are the most important asset a company has and by investing in them, you are investing in the future of your business and helping in creating the next generation of talented calibers in the local PR field.
How are you viewing the PR field these days and what do you think it needs?
Some still think that PR is only about press releases and media events. It is much more than this; it has to do with reputation management, identifying the right strategy and the effective tools to implement it, and giving consultation based on our knowledge of the market to name a few. The local PR field has been witnessing major strides and I hope it continues to grow and more brands become aware of the importance of PR and how it properly functions.
What can make you refuse to manage a client?
This is an extremely focal topic because you must learn when to say no to a client and this is based on several factors. First, a client who is self-centered and won’t listen to the team because we consider ourselves as partners to our clients and an extension of their team and this is what makes a client-agency relationship last and succeed. Second, always respect the team. The team is the company’s greatest asset and they should be treated with the respect they deserve especially with the time and effort they dedicate to serving our clients.
What is the most memorable event The PROs managed?
It is hard to mention only one event among the list of successful events that we conducted since we started operating in June 2022 but I can share with you some examples. Our work for Schneider Electric during their participation in COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh was absolutely one of the most remarkable events the team has worked on especially since senior representatives from the local, regional, and global management teams were present. “Cairo Food Summit” is another key milestone in our journey as our first owned event. It was the first of its kind offering a platform for industry leaders from the government and private sectors to come together and discuss key issues, including food security and sustainable economic growth towards a brighter future for the sector of food and beverages.
What is the motto that helped you drive your company toward success?
I truly believe that challenging one’s self is one of the preeminent derives of success that I have always relied on. I do not try to compete with anyone else, I only see myself as my only competition. This is why there is a considerable amount of time, effort, and investment put into developing myself and the company to be up to the challenge and only move forward.
What is a person’s most essential skill to work in PR?
People! This is the keyword when it comes to identifying the skills of a perfect candidate to join the PR field. Your people skills are detrimental to building a strong career in PR. You have to have the ability to connect with people and build relationships with them through listening and compassion, which allow you to understand the behavior and emotions of both your clients and their target audience in order to best tailor the message that you are communicating whether on behalf of yourself or the client. Mastering people’s skills will complement your oral, written, and creative thinking skills, making you a distinguished PR professional.
In your opinion, which social media platform serves PR the most?
The media landscape is dynamically changing in Egypt with more tools and outlets appearing which is very healthy for the industry. Now with digitalization being the main theme of the era and the growth of internet users, I would say digital hubs and podcasts are gaining popularity and attracting a solid audience base as they provide a channel for valuable information in an accessible and fast way.
Tell us about your most successful PR campaign
Personally speaking, I wouldn’t pick and choose a favorite or the most successful PR campaign as any campaign that met the objectives of the clients is considered a successful one, no matter how big or small the campaign is. Of course, there are several KPIs that we can count on to measure the success of a campaign, however for me it all depends on the impact a campaign creates, its contribution to the brand image and the feedback of its target audience.
What are the core values of The PROs?
People are our greatest asset
Quality is what we commit to / always promise
Communication is where success begins and ends
What do you think is the best PR strategy?
The best PR strategy recipe would include a combination of a clear understanding of the client’s objectives and needs to be able to identify the most suitable tactics to meet these needs. In addition to having solid knowledge of the market, the latest updates, the threats, and the opportunities in order to evaluate different scenarios and pinpoint the most effective tools to achieve the strategic objectives. What tops it all, is the healthy communication between both parties, the client and the agency, as it is the mean of building trust and bridging the gap between both of them towards an effective execution and the desired results.
Share a piece of advice with those who want to pursue a career in PR.
Be yourself, Have patience, Take a dare, and Connect with people.