Gearing up for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2019

Seven Media PR agency in Dubai and Abu Dhabi gears up for th4e Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2019

Once again, the Seven team are gearing up to manage the PR for the one of the Middle East’s biggest events – the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, our sixth race weekend since we won the account in 2014.

Following last year’s landmark 10th Anniversary edition, 2019’s will be the biggest one yet as we enter its second decade – a full five-day race festival of on-track action and off-track entertainment, culminating with the 48th UAE National Day on 2nd December.

Our team has been planning for this moment since tickets went on sale back in mid-March, and the campaign has followed a strategically planned pathway to take us to this point and on course for a fully sold out race weekend in less than two weeks’ time – it’s not just five days on site in November but a year-round closely managed effort in partnership with the team at Yas Marina Circuit.

Integrating closely with our colleagues on the social media team at Spark Foundry is key to success as we move through the five main phases from launch day to race week and our messaging and performance is adjusted and fine-tuned to ensure the Circuit’s commercial needs are met.

There are so many moving parts to consider – from media accreditation, global music artist announcements including Lana Del Rey and The Killers, to media centre management to interviews and imagery preparation – it’s a truly Herculean team effort that never lets up.

With two weeks to go there are fewer than 1,000 tickets left and these will disappear rapidly as we get to the business end of the Formula 1 season, following Sunday’s epic Brazilian Grand Prix.

During the seven days of race week the PR teams in Dubai and Abu Dhabi will write, translate and distribute more than 45 press releases, conduct more than 50 interviews, and collate and analyse more than 15,000 press clippings from around the world as well as work with more than 350 of the world’s best sports media. All while 60,000 race fans from more than 170 countries relax and enjoy the spectacle.

Wish us luck!

Photo courtesy of Yas Marina Circuit

Reflections of FinTech Abu Dhabi 2019

Reflections of FinTech Abu Dhabi 2019

Unicorns. Cryptocurrency. Blockchain. Sandbox. Artificial Intelligence.

These were the buzzwords on everyone’s lips at Fintech Abu Dhabi 2019 organised by Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and Seven Media was in the thick of things handling the media operations and PR campaign for this incredible event.

The third edition of the FinTech festival, powered by global innovation platform, Unbound, had over 5000 participants, 100 speakers and more than 50 sessions.

The event featured a packed schedule of discussions, panel sessions and debates from some of the world’s most innovative global companies, industry thought leaders and top CEOs.

A team from our Abu Dhabi office were on the ground at ADGM and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) at the three-day event managing the media operations with a host of top-tier media present, including a CNBC studio on-site.

Our deep industry expertise and understanding of the local markets enabled us to pick out the right stories and guided media to the key sessions at the event. In addition to this, our outstanding strategic thinking and experience in managing large scale high profile events led us to successfully deliver MENA’s leading FinTech and Financial event to the media. 

Using a mix of press releases and one-on-one interviews with key speakers, we were able to deliver great stories running across top tier broadcast, print, online and social channels in UAE, and beyond.

With industry experts covering the entire spectrum from the future of the banking industry to blockchain and the use of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, it was an exceptional educational experience for the team.

Here is a roundup of some key takeaways from the event:

Artificial Intelligence is the key to the future

A.I. and machine learning massively reduce costs and allow businesses to disrupt the traditional model of business. 

The FinTech industry is using technology intelligently and creatively. We now see Venture Capitalists using AI to conduct due diligence and hunt for new investment opportunities as it helps them informed decisions at a faster pace. 

Collaboration is vital

The importance of partnerships and collaborations were pointed out as one of the critical factors for success in the sector.

The perception of the FinTech companies has changed from being a disruptor to a collaborator. This has helped in accelerating the speed of the product cycle, aiding the stakeholders and the end-users.

Startups and financial institutions need to work together to create solutions and help each other to enhance the scalability of their business as well. 

MENA is a growing hub for FinTech startups

Even though the region’s FinTech industry is still in a development phase, the ecosystem fostered will provide a platform for FinTech unicorns to emerge over the coming years.

Consumer demographics, large smartphone and money transfer use and government support have been one of the key drivers for the growth of the FinTech industry in the MENA region.

UAE’s positioning as the largest fintech hub for startups in the MENA region was further cemented during the event with Mubadala Capital unveiling a $250 million (Dh918.29m) in tech funds and ADGM launching their digital sandbox.

Judging by the success of what we saw, there’s no doubt that the FinTech industry will go from strength to strength in the region. The industry is continuing to evolve by the day, and there will be innovations and ideas that will inspire more companies and entrepreneurs in the coming years. 

Have we lost the art of storytelling?

Seven Media

The way things are going, we’re in danger of completely saturating the digital world with video content. 

Some 500 million hours of video is watched on YouTube each week and – according to a recent report by Hootsuite – more video content is uploaded online every 30 days than the major US TV networks have created in the last 30 years.

With so much noise being created – and so much time spent consuming thousands of hours of instantly forgettable moving images – it is time to remind ourselves that we appear to have forgotten the art of storytelling.

This is easily done when we consider that even the worst of advertisements, if executed properly through social media channels, can reach millions of customers around the globe.

Virtually anyone can make a video and upload it, but we seem to have forgotten to ask ourselves the basics: Does it convey a message? Does it have a purpose? And the number one question … is it any good?

If you do get it right, you’re in luck, as there are now more social media platforms than ever before – from the 1 billion people who watch YouTube to the 165million active monthly Facebook users based here in the MENA region. That’s a lot of people literally waiting to be served decent content. 

Video is definitely the right way to target your audience as it has a 95 per cent retention rate. When you compare this to the 21 per cent retention rate of print, it’s already evident that video can guarantee more emotion, influence and action than any other form of advertising media. 

In this fast-paced world where an entire conversations can be summarised into 145 character Tweets, customers are becoming adverse to the verbose and wordy. They want their comms to be attention grabbing and entertaining. 

It has been proven that customers are 27 per cent more likely to click on a video than a standard ad on a web page. It is video that appeals to our senses and makes us curious to find out more and once we do, we’re share 12 times more on social than text and images combined. 

So, it’s been proven that video is the most effective media, but the best tends to mean the most expensive, right? Wrong. If targeted effectively, the cost per view can result in being as low as AED 0.01 per view – and that’s views of exactly the sort of person you want to see it.

The beauty of social media is that there are demographic tools, so you can set the advertisements to arrive straight on the screen of your dream customer. You can eliminate the unsuitable age groups, gender and geographic region so you have the best chance of reaching exactly who you want and need for your product. You can even target people who are active fans of your competitors! 

The initial creation of video can also be tailored to your budget as well. Gone are the Mad Men-style agencies filled with suits creating million-dollar blockbuster adverts. Now, audiences want their advertising to be authentic and tell a story. Recently, Seven Studios was hired to do a behind-the-scenes style video, in conjunction with a big budget advertisement. The result? Our behind-the-scenes video received higher engagement, because it was more relatable and interesting for the consumer. 

In this region, there is a place that consumes more videos daily than anywhere else around the entire globe. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 98 per cent of KSA can be reached through video. Previously, this KSA audience seemed a distant dream to many brands, especially those outside of the Middle East, but thanks to video, this important market can now be fully engaged. 

So before you decide to make a video for your brand, organisation or movement, it’s important to speak to a company that is able to understand your story and create something relevant and meaningful. They will be able to advise how and where to target the video, what social media channels are most relevant and the most effective way to boost through spend. As an award-winning social media agency in Dubai, we can help.

Until then, please, just don’t create video for video’s sake. 

TikTok for social media marketing: yay or nay?

Tok Tok for social media marketing - yay or nay?

With over 500 million monthly active users globally, TikTok has witnessed a rapid growth over the past two years, resultantly stirring up a storm in the digital world.

For starters, let us give you a brief about the renowned app, *drumroll* TikTok.

TikTok is a short-form video-sharing app used extensively by teenagers and young adults for the sole purpose of entertainment. It has been labelled as the “next big thing” and don’t be surprised, because it just might be as it is the third most downloaded app in the world.

So, what makes TikTok so distinct and popular?

It is more than just lip-syncing to cliché songs or pre-recorded videos, TikTok is an outlet allowing users to unleash their creativity, use the numerous AR lenses and express themselves by means of short, catchy videos.

However, the question arises; can brands incorporate TikTok in their social media marketing strategy?

The answer is, why not? TikTok can be a potential new platform for brands to explore and open up to various opportunities and connect with new audiences. Thus, increasing brand awareness amongst an untapped segment particularly for brands that are interested to cater to a youthful target. TikTok also runs its very own TikTok ads platform which allows advertising to only a limited target based on simple factors such as age, gender and state level geolocation. Nevertheless, by the end of 2019 TikTok promises to narrow down their demographics and emerge with an improved ads platform.

To achieve the desired outcomes on TikTok, brands would need to get their creative juices flowing and pouring! A full-fledged brainstorming session, a solid ‘think out of the box’ idea and the will to delve into new possibilities; these will help kickstart your brand’s journey on the app. TikTok gives your brand the opportunity to effectively promote your products or services, a jingle or slogan or any element of your brand as innovatively as possible.

Global fashion chain Guess was the first ever fashion brand to take on TikTok with the #InMyDenim challenge. Users were encouraged to create a mini music video while wearing their Guess denim piece from the newly launched denim line and post on TikTok with the hashtag. The challenge was a tremendous success with over 38.6 million views and tons of entries. What Guess also extracted from this challenge was a mammoth amount of user generated content; an essential for every brand.

Another brand using TikTok to their optimum is Red Bull. Short videos boasting the adventure and thrill in skydiving, skateboarding, mountain bike riding and more by involving followers are featured on Red Bull’s TikTok feed as it translates to the brand’s persona. With the rapid rise of TikTok came along the influencers on the platform, and we kid you not, these TikTok influencers are fast-growing with an unbelievable number of views. The large following of these influencers can be targeted by brands in order to boost their products or services. Similar to collaborating with Instagram bloggers, brands can tie-up with TikTok influencers with a large following for campaigns to reach out to a wider audience. Howbeit, with this social platform running primarily on the youth having fun, brands will also have to do the same rather than perceiving it as no more than just an advertising opportunity. We wouldn’t recommend brands to simply create a profile on TikTok and share their own videos. Instead, here’s what we suggest; if your brand possesses the right resources and an exceptional idea, capture the interest of the users by developing a campaign.

If you’re overlooking these advantages for your brand, know that you will be missing out on a great deal because TikTok is here to stay. But if this piques your curiosity, head over to the best social media agency in Dubai – Seven Media to step into the new age marketing medium.

Closed Groups – The Future of Social

The Facebook Group is nothing new. Spaces for like-minded people to come together and discuss specific topics have been around since social media’s earliest days. These groups have seen particular growth over the past year, however, becoming a vital part of social media users’ daily lives.

Snapchat was the first platform to capitalise entirely on closed-group sharing. Their goal was to be the space where people shared private messages, images and videos with close friends. The result? Massive success. The increasing publicity of an individual’s online presence revealed the need for such sharing.

Remember the early days of Facebook when the platform represented somewhat of a safe space – most interactions were with real people, many of them friends and family. It was a place to showcase yourself, your preferences, your personality. This sort of intimacy on social networks has been undone by their own success. Newsfeeds are overflowing with clickbait, fake news and advertising galore. Cue closed-group sharing popularity growth.

Since this shift, Facebook has become the space for sharing your public persona – a less authentic, more curated persona. Meanwhile, Snapchat became the space for the ‘real’ persona, where individuals feel more comfortable sharing intimate details about their daily lives because they are sharing with people they know and trust.

Closed-group social platforms enable a new behavior of sharing. By reducing the cognitive overhead of publicly posting, these companies are betting on users sharing more often. In other words – with less mental math deducting who will see your post, story, photo – the more (and more often) users will share.

Recent reports have indicated that Instagram is hopping on this closed-group social train by developing an app called Threads.

Threads is designed as a sister app to Instagram, and invites users to automatically share their location, speed and battery life, along with more typical text, photo and video messages with friends. (Does sharing your location or battery sound strange to you? Don’t forget, Snapchat introduced these features years ago).

The ultimate goal of Threads? Promote constant, automatic sharing between users and the people on their ‘close friends’ list on Instagram. Reportedly, you will even be able to opt into automatic sharing, and Threads will regularly update your status without you having to type or click anything at all.

So, for companies and brands who rely on social networks to reach customers, whether through advertising or organic, personalised interactions, closed-group sharing has been an important player in the massive decline of organic engagement and reach.

Does closed-group sharing point toward the future of social media in general? A means to recover and authenticity the trust that Facebook began with? And if so, what does this mean for branded pages striving to reach the vast online audience?

That’s where Seven Media, one of the top social media agencies in Dubai comes in, addressing challenges is our specialty. Get in touch, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Mental health in the media

In 2019, it is not unusual to see the words ‘mental health’, ‘sustainability’ and, ‘well-being’ featured frequently across media and social channels, as the topics become a much more fluid conversation for everyone.

The world of PR must adapt to this and move with the motion it heads in, veganism is on the rise, people care more about their health than ever before, and brands must recognise and deliver for these growing factors. From hotels in the Middle East such as JA Resorts and Hotels becoming the most sustainable resort in Dubai, to vegan/gluten-free restaurants and cafés such as Bounty Beets.

But what about mental health? Does the media have a responsibility to promote healthy practices and feature brands that are bringing mental health to the forefront? Mental health satisfaction is one of the key performance indicators of the pillar of world-class healthcare of the UAE National Agenda. The UAE Government is regularly undertaking new measures to address mental health issues and reduce the stigma associated with it.

“Informed journalists can have a significant impact on public understanding of mental health issues as they shape debate and trends with the words and pictures they convey.”

Rosalynn Carter, Former First Lady of the United States

Celebrities and public figures such as actors Dwayne Johnson and Gina Rodriguez, and singers such as Ariana Grande and Jesy Nelson have also broken their silence and used their social media platforms to share their own stories about their mental health. This has even led to documentaries that are being urged to be shown in schools and colleges around the world to encourage others to take accountability for their words and actions.

An increasing number of brands are bringing out products/services to raise awareness around mental health too, or raising money for organisations that specialise in treating mental illness. For example, a theatre company in London invited influencers to promote a show about mental health called “Brainfood”.

At the same time, an influx of wellness brands are launching everything from functional fragrances to nutritional supplements in the name of stress reduction. Huge global brands are also choosing to highlight such topics, such as Burger King. With their anti-Happy meals, Burger King partnered with the non-profit Mental Health America to launch the Real Meal campaign to create the message ‘no-one is happy all the time’. This was a clever dig at their main competitor, McDonald’s, but powerful nonetheless.

As we learn to adapt in an age where social media is part of our lives, choosing to carry on the conversations of mental health and providing strategies and solutions going forward remains very high on the agenda and a topical subject in the media landscape.

The importance of the Arabic language in social media

The importance of the Arabic language in social media

The continued growth of social media in the MEA region has had a large number of positive impacts for both individuals and businesses, however we have witnessed by and large most brands investing in creating English-first content.

A recent report compiled by Crowd Analyzer, Hootsuite and APCO has shed light on the state of social media in the MEA region, focusing on its biggest players – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Seemingly the most comprehensive report on social media in the Middle East, it demonstrates that while English and Arabic are the two most used languages in the region, going more in-depth with market-specific statistics, Arabic is the primary language used to communicate across all sectors.

Below we have compiled a few of the key takeaways from the report regarding the use of Arabic on social media:

–    The most commonly used languages on social media in the Middle East are English (48%) and Arabic (45%)

–    30% of all social media users in the region are between the ages of 15 and 29

–    Arabic is the fastest-growing language on Twitter, among 25 other languages used on the platform

–    The majority of social media users in Saudi Arabia use Arabic to communicate. In 2018, the number of Arabic-language users grew by almost 35%, going from 7.6M at the end of 2017 to 10M at the end of 2018. Meanwhile, English-language users grew by only 3% in the same timeframe.

From these points, we can understand how important it is to include the Arabic language when creating content. Producing Arabic language content will show your audience that your brand cares about their preferences and is willing to tackle all customer queries, concerns and feedback, regardless of whether they are submitted in English or Arabic.

Lastly, including Arabic language content will differentiate your brand from other brands in the region, many of which do not produce Arabic content.

Seven are all-round communicators, equally strong in Arabic and English, and as one of the leading digital agencies in Dubai, we truly know how to connect with an audience – from the emerging generation of influencers to big business decision makers – and everyone in between.

Podcasts – The Hidden Gem of Middle East Media

Podcasts – The new medium of the Middle East? If recent studies are anything to go by this could very well be true. Current data shows the increasing popularity of podcasts in the region with 16% of the population now tuning in at least once a week, making the UAE on par with the UK for listeners per capita. Additionally, according to one UAE media report, some podcasts saw their listenership double between 2017 and 2018, with three quarters of the population now having heard of podcasts.

So, with podcasts clearly increasing in popularity, the question is should brands and business be taking note? In short, the answer is yes. Not only are they one of the fastest growing media mediums, but for their regular listeners they are the most trusted. And whilst regular listeners are still in the minority, this is set to change as data has predicted a “tipping point” could soon be happening with regular listeners soon becoming a huge portion of the country. The global media are also taking notice with renowned America publication WIRED commenting that “Podcast listeners really are the holy grail advertisers hoped they’d be”.

If brands need even more reasons to jump on this new bandwagon, some of the stats that have been produced should suffice. In a recent report conducted by Infinite Dial in the United States, they found that 54% of the study said they were either “somewhat” or “much more” likely to consider brands that advertise on podcasts. According to a 4DC report they have found that regular podcast listeners, on average, outspend non-regular listeners by 26% and, not only that, but they also spend 25% more on food and drink over non-listeners.

This significant difference in spending power is boiled down to the assumption that those who listen to podcasts are “more educated” and therefore more likely to have a higher income. Whilst this prediction may seem presumptuous, a recent study  has seemly verified the speculation thanks to a swelling data pool, (particularly via Edison’s Infinite Dial and Nielsen’s Total Audience reports).

The only question left to answer is not why but how? How do businesses infiltrate this somewhat untapped market, and how can they do so by maintaining the authenticity it thrives on? The first and most obvious solution is to sponsor a podcast. The outcome being that those delivering the podcast would include a soundbite generally at the start of the podcast of the brand or business in question. Plain, easy and effective. For those wanting to create a higher level of positive sentiment and more authentic approach, you’ll have to do some more work. Reaching out to podcast hosts sharing your product in the hope that they will organically talk about your product is an end goal. Alternatively, establish yourself as a thought-leader in your industry and feature as a guest on industry-related podcasts to grow brand awareness in an organic way.

In short, podcasts increasing popularity, attractive audience and trustworthiness are a real no brainer for business and brands to explore. Looking to advertise or push your brand though podcasts? Look no further than Seven Media to be on the pulse of all things current in the Middle East.

Hello Future, we’re coming for you!

Instagram has been consistently rolling out new features for their community for some time now. As one of the most popular social platforms in the world, with one of the most heavily active user bases (500 million people access the app daily), in order to remain relevant and retain users’ interests, Instagram has to keep on evolving.

At its developers’ conference in April this year, Facebook announced its augmented reality platform – Spark AR. The platform was initially only available to a select group of creators and is where all those fun little Instagram Effects (hello cute dog ears!) were created. This exciting AR tool is now available to the entire Instagram community, meaning anyone can create augmented reality filters and effects for Instagram Stories!

Instagram isn’t the first to open up its filter technology, following suit of Snapchat which opened access to its Lens Filters last year. Social media has become a massive content generation destination in recent years, consistently adding creative tools for both users and brands alike.

Brands are in a continuous adaption of their marketing methods as social platforms become a playground for so much creativity and self-expression. Augmented reality has absolutely exploded, and will no doubt have a tremendous impact on how brands market themselves in the coming years. Those who jump in early to learn the ropes and find creative ways to build and share their own branded AR experiences will be best positioned to reap the tremendous benefits of Instagram AR, and ultimately be ahead of the game in this new age of advertising.

Are you ready to jump into the world of tomorrow? As one of the best social media agencies in Dubai, Seven Media is here for all your digital needs!

The power of video in PR

These days anyone can make a video. It can be produced and presented to an audience quickly, easily and with very little spend involved.

As the owner of video production company and owner of a PR company, that might seem like an odd thing to say. But it’s true.

There are, however, one or two important caveats to consider when examining this fact.

I was recently invited by PRCA MENA to speak about the role of video in today’s communications landscape and its use in social media and PR campaigns.

Rather than extol the virtues of moving images on a screen and their impact versus print or social media it was important to explain that, without a strong story at its core, most video content can easily end up being unfit for purpose.

As a former journalist, I understand the power of a story, how it can carry a message to a wide audience and elicit a response. People are hard-wired to remember stories – our belief systems are based around stories; they unite us, inspire us, create movements, influence behavior and build cultures.

Stories are at the heart of everything. They are used to cement power and start revolutions.

The principals of what makes a great story apply to any format, be it written or video. A story must engage, inform, entertain, and relate to its audience.

Because of the way people consume video content nowadays, these principals are even more important.

There’s endless data out there to show what type of videos are watched by certain kinds of people, at a particular time of day and in specific countries.

But the underlying fact is unless you’re producing a quality product, all you’re doing is adding to the hundreds of thousands of hours of forgettable content that already exists.

If your story is strong enough, it will achieve the greatest results. It will get your message across and it will meet the needs of your client.

For your message to have the desired impact, you need to ‘humanize’ it. People’s interest will always be piqued by other people – by what they are doing and feeling and how they are acting.

No one wants to be TOLD how a brand or movement is relevant to them, they want to be SHOWN in an engaging, informative, entertaining and relatable way.

From a PR perspective, the market for great video content continues to grow and grow.

People often talk about the shrinking media landscape, but it is expanding with new online platforms appearing all the time – and video gives you incredible access to these new publishing opportunities.

As traditional media outlets come to terms with reduced editorial and broadcast budgets, they are eager to use supplied video content that meets their standards. Be this bespoke social media or web content, B-roll for events or on-camera interviews, it is all in demand.

There are tangible results to this – a great story in partnership with great media relations can deliver a powerful message.

However, video, like print before it, is also a slave to people’s reduced attention spans. With viewers willing to spend less time watching a video, the content needs to not only be strong but also tailored to the platform that best engages with your desired audience.

How it’s presented has a huge impact on how it is received.

From using the correct format for the platform, editing size and running time for social media, to something as simple as adding subtitles, this all plays a role in how your message is consumed.

At its very essence, making effective video content is straightforward.

Create the strongest possible idea. Decide on the process and agree on the desired result. Be original and cut through the clutter. Catch people’s attention and tell a truly great story. 

If all these ingredients are present, you’ll have the recipe for success.

Watch Gregg’s presentation to the PRCA at: https://vimeo.com/342918793