Navigating the PR future: Insights from Dipankar Zalpuri, President Kaizzen MENA

As the year 2023 is in its last week, we at Adgully Middle East have come up with an initiative to connect with many Public Relation companies to know their thoughts on the development of social media, social influencers etc in the year 2024. So in an exclusive Interview with Dipankar Zalpuri, President MENA Region, Kaizzen Middle East, Adgully brings to you what is in store for the PR industry in the region.  With the growing importance of digital channels and social media, how is your PR agency planning to leverage new communication technologies and platforms by 2024?  Public Relations professionals need to remain skilled strategists and innovators rather than mere technicians in this suddenly so 'tech-driven' world. I am going to put my neck on the line and spark a debate on the sometimes-unbridled inclination towards any new technology or platform that comes to the fore, especially in this rapidly changing tech-scape.  Organizations use public relations strategies to increase brand awareness, build trust, and improve their reputation. Yes, using social media is important to remain relevant to the current audiences who use these platforms. But, for me, a well thought of, researched, and consistent messaging still remains most vital for the success of any business.  Instead of jumping on the bandwagon of an assortment of 'new media’, I rely on recently developed tools that our teams have been using. Artificial intelligence is being used to predict the success of a campaign, analyze social media sentiment, and monitor the progress of a campaign, as our teams roll strategies out. With such an approach, one saves valuable time and resources, as the right AI tools provide real-time data and improve the efficiency of social media monitoring. We have also been using AI software to our advantage to further sharpen our approach to marketing and creating pitches. Using AI helps us improve text, branding and graphic design. We plan to use other developing technologies that include virtual and augmented reality for immersive experiences, blockchain for security, and big data and analytics for audience insights. I believe that PR professionals have a broader role to play in technology use and policy development than is being projected. What strategies are in place to enhance client visibility and reputation management in the evolving digital landscape of 2024?I would say this is where technology has been of major assistance. We have been using certain techs that simplify our PR workflows and as a result, have helped improve our media relations out-reach capabilities. This in turn has been instrumental in boosting client visibility through media coverage on a global scale, saving time, track performance better than ever before, and measuring ROI from PR. We will keep utilizing social media outlets such as LinkedIn and Instagram to tap global communities, events, conventions, and closed round tables of relevance. Our clear intent is to connect our clients to other global thought leaders, learn about the latest trends in their sector, present lucrative investment opportunities, and collaborate on new initiatives, to allow their top management to network with apt individuals and communities. While this may sound a little old-fashioned, it has worked very well for our clients in the past to not only be visible but grow their business at an accelerated pace in various geographies. Small things like utilizing GA4 for tracking owned-media traction, relying on applications that allow us to monitor online reputation, sharing intellectual insights on podcasts, and blogs, etc. will form the pulse of our global strategy. We will always keep relying on harnessing automation tools with AI machine learning features that help us improve our strategic as well as tactical digital media marketing initiatives. With the rise of influencer marketing, how will Kaizzen incorporate influencer partnerships into your communication strategies by 2024? With a dedicated, centralized team in place, we offer our clients a unique and dynamic approach to influencer marketing. Apart from maintaining and managing relationships with influencers, we don’t shy away from collaborating with international platforms that bring in expertise in varied regions and categories. Our team works meticulously to weed out relevant partnerships, learning from extensive research and toiling with data coming out of the industry.As I mentioned before, we go back to the basics and lean towards the 7Cs of PR to establish clear execution and messaging goals along with rigorous industry ROI measurement standard for the influencer partnerships as well.  What metrics do you prioritize to measure the impact of influencer collaborations on brand perception and audience engagement in 2024? In 2023, 76.9% of marketers declared influencer marketing as a top priority for their PR agencies, with a 46.2% increase in budgets for PR marketing. Taking this into account, influencer marketing will continue to be the biggest channel of marketing in 2024 with Dubai’s increasing love for luxury marketing. (Source: Economic Times). If you open Instagram, several PR or product promotion posts have online influencers. With 99% penetration rate, Dubai is the world’s undisputed capital of social media and any business looking to succeed should encapsulate influencers in their strategy. We rely mostly on Engagement Rates and Reach rather than Impressions while measuring any influencer’s posts. If the influencer is promoting a product, then the CTR relating to the product sale is something to keep an eye on too, if the client is comfortable sharing the same with us. As we go into 2024, we will keep strictly monitoring the comments and do Sentiment Analysis to determine how the audience engagement fares to enhance brand perception. In the end, I reiterate that Traditional PR might be seen as 'eroding' in the face of social media and new technology but as a global company we strive to remind every PR & Marketing professional to be effective and informed torch bearers of the Communication Mandate of their company. And not just be ‘Blog Masters’ and/or ‘Tweeters in Chief’ that are being churned out every minute to the hour.

Bidding adieu to PR legend Tony Christodoulou

The global PR and comms industry just lost one of its all-time greats: Tony Christodoulou. He was the founder and chairman of Action Global Communications. Tony passed away last week, and it's a major loss for the industry.Back in 1971, Tony started the Action network in Nicosia, Cyprus. He had a passion for storytelling like no other, and he worked his magic for a solid 35 years with British Airways, taking the Action brand to a whopping 40 markets. British Airways was expanding exponentially in the '80s and '90s, opening up all these fresh biz and tourism destinations. Tony took advantage of that and made Action the biggest indie agency network in the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of Europe.In '94, Tony made moves in the UAE, setting up Action's first presence in Dubai after snagging MCS. This was a game-changer for the PR and comms scene in the Middle East. Tony built teams and made his mark in the industry, showing love to clients from all kinds of industries.But Tony wasn't just about PR. Homie was also the Honorary Consul General of New Zealand in Cyprus for 22 years. And he racked up a bunch of awards, including an Honorary Fellowship from MEPRA in 2018.Tony's son, Chris, who's now the CEO, said his dad had an infectious personality. People from all over the MENA region are showing love on social media and industry platforms, reminiscing about Tony's mentorship. His legacy is something the whole Action Global Communications family is proud of.Action Global Communications set up an online tribute book for Tony on its website. PR pros and industry bosses from around the world are leaving hundreds of messages honoring Tony's impact.Tony's daughter, Kathy, who heads up new business development, said her father had a gift for forging real connections with clients and colleagues. In today's fast-paced industry, where everyone's focused on deliverables, that personal touch often gets forgotten. But it's all in Action's DNA, and they're going to keep it alive in Tony's memory, pushing the agency and the industry forward.Tony leaves behind his wife, Mickey, his children Chris and Kathy, and six grandchildren. Plus, there are thousands of past and present Action Global Communications employees who've been part of the team during the agency's 51-year run. Tony was 80 when he passed, but his legacy lives on.