Mai Abaza is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Publicist Inc, a public relations consulting agency based in Cairo, Egypt. Publicist Inc provide strategic communications advice to clients across diverse industries and deliver corporate communications, media relations, event management and social media services.
2017 PR trends according to Mai Abaza, CEO of Publicist Inc:
2016 has been a big year for Egypt, from economic and political reforms to new laws and regulations to a Media Act and infringements on press freedom.
Brands getting promises of instant national fame and becoming the ‘talk of the town’, promises of conversions and millions of impressions through ‘influencer’ endorsements, and a lot more. You ‘thumb’ through today’s big launch event or new product on Instagram and tomorrow you move on. That’s just not going to cut it moving forwards.
2017 will see a change in market dynamics. There will be budget constraints, aggressive competition for whatever purchasing power Egyptian consumers have left and a war over brand preference.
Brands are taking reputation management and crisis planning more seriously now. We’ve had cases with Heinz, with other brands. We’re seeing more fake news on social media. The challenges of managing reputations are increasing. Brands are looking at more solid crisis planning, or they kneejerk.
Organizations will have to step back, revise their spending, and think about longer-term, cost effective strategies. Brands need to look beyond customer acquisition, but they need to engage across all stakeholder groups.
For PR professionals, diversification of skills will be critical, and lines between us and marketing are becoming blurred. We need to ensure our strategies are not just focused on one tool. Creativity is key, and we’ll see PR agencies soon in Egypt having creative directors.
PR is, and has always been, about investing in people’s hearts and minds. It’s a long-term strategy and marketeers will start to move more towards that in the coming year – or at least they should. So whether you’re selling B2B or B2C or even B2G, you need to have a long-term vision for how you will acquire and retain customers, strengthen relationships with key stakeholders and protect your reputation.