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

The elusive Instagram algorithm

Social media agency Dubai - The elusive Instagram algorithm

Algorithm – it’s a word that has been bounced around a lot in the social sphere of late. But what exactly is this elusive Instagram and Facebook algorithm? And what can we do to make sure we’re on the right side of it?

Well, the bad news is that there is no correct answer. Or if there is, the Zuckerberg’s of the world are keeping it tightly locked up at Facebook HQ. But here’s what we do know…

Firstly, algorithms are ever changing. There’s no one secret to success that is everlasting. As such, social media strategies must constantly evolve to meet both social trends and your specific audience needs and preferences. What has been successful this month, may not work so well next month. And that golden strategy that was formulated last year, may not turn as many heads this year. 

So the first secret to success comes from monitoring and iteration. Take note of what is working successfully and what is not. It’s vital to constantly reassess your plan to ensure you are effectively engaging your audience.

Quality over quantity. There is no golden number when it comes to frequency of posting. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to put yourself in the followers’ shoes. Would you want to see repetitive, branded content appearing in your feed or stories every few hours? Of course not! Ensure your content is engaging, high-resolution and of interest or value to the follower.

Now, time to bust some myths. Despite widespread speculation, Instagram and Facebook have categorically denied ‘hiding’ user posts from their followers. Instead, remember that they reward accounts posting content that users enjoy seeing and engage with. Instagram announced that “What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc.” While they’re playing their cards close to their chest, our takeaway from this, paired with our experience managing brands’ social media accounts from around the globe, is that a holistic approach is necessary. Every aspect of your channel needs to be considered and planned for in order to achieve maximum success.

It’s vital to utilise all the features that social media platforms offer in order to gain maximum exposure and engagement. The total sum of our efforts on a platform are what yield results at the end of the month or quarter. On Instagram, for example, it’s not just about posting images to your feed. Make sure you’re active on stories and making use of the variety of engagement stickers available, test the waters with IGTV (…as long as the video is within the correct dimensions!), regularly update Instagram highlights, actively engage with followers who message and comment, follow accounts that are relevant to you or your brand and utilise hashtags.

Last, but by no means least, always keep in mind that social media is supposed to be FUN! Get creative, try new things and don’t be afraid to push boundaries. As one of the top social media agencies in Dubai, Seven Media is here to help.

The importance of new updates on social media

The Importance of New Updates on Social Media

New updates on different social media platforms can always be a little confusing. But look at the bright side of it, these updates bring along with them a handful of perks to boost your social media presence.

Tried and tested with successful reliable results, right here at Seven Media!

Since its inception, social media and its incorporation in businesses across platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter have undergone immense amounts of updates. All of which have definitely made life in the social and digital world a lot easier and better.

In the past year, Instagram incorporated new and inventive updates; one of which is was to add stickers to our Instagram stories. Besides being fun and entertaining, the key benefit derived from this update is the increase in engagement that arises from using stickers like polls, quizzes or the ‘ask a question’ feature on stories. As predicted by our social gurus, Instagram stories indicated a 30% increase in engagement as compared to that on posts. Talk about the power of new updates!

A recent update, the ease of sharing a post on multiple accounts on Instagram simultaneously and handling Instagram direct messages via Facebook, highlights the convenience factor of why constant updates are fruitful for social media marketing. Adding to the pros, with the introduction of the livestream feature on social platforms, delivering live content from events, conferences and other occasions is now made possible, grabbing the attention of a fairly large target audience within a short span of time.

While new updates help improve engagement, the algorithms on certain platforms do not always cooperate. To stay ahead in the game, it is crucial for your posts to be on top and be visible to your followers. Our predictions are that these social platforms will introduce new updates to change the algorithm. As a result, audiences will be exposed to good quality content than that based on engagement. And if social media isn’t your forte, leave it to the experts at Seven Media, the best social media agency in Dubai, to take care of it!

On that note, make sure to keep up with the new updates and use it to your greatest advantage…

What did the Bottle Cap Challenge teach us?

Seven Media - What did the Bottle Cap Challenge teach us

If there was anything to learn from a bunch of videos of bottle caps getting kicked open, it would be timing. Not stamina, not technique, not plastic awareness, but timing. How crucial it is to be on top of the trending content. How you can ride on a hashtag wave to ensure your brand is heard and seen in the extremely dynamic social and digital space out there. The age-old rule of timing – you snooze, you lose.

Take for example how the stop motion animator Kevin B Parry did a branded piece with Malibu. Whether it was a collab or not, posting a creative entry to the Bottle Cap Challenge did manifold goodness to the two entities. It gave immense exposure to Kevin’s animation skills, and it gave brilliant publicity to Malibu being the chosen bottle for the stunt. The trend was current, interesting and grabbed eyeballs for its twist in the end.

Having said that, do not get onto the trend if it’s not the thing for your brand. The bottle cap challenge was perfect for Malibu (which comes in a bottle, you bet). It would also make sense for fitness brands, gyms etc. to jump onto the wagon, as they can all be relatable in a way. But an out-of-context post from an unrelated brand is the last thing you can suggest as content. Which brings us to the next lesson – relatability.

When Zomato initiated a multi-brand anti-marketing tweet-athon, brands hopped on to the game with delight at the prospective exposure. The catch was: when Zomato tweets “Guys, sometimes eat home-cooked food too..”, and when Amazon Prime tweets “Guys, sometimes watch cable TV too…”, everyone knows what’s being spoken of, versus a lesser known transportation brand tweeting “Guys, sometimes work from your home too”. That’s when things get awkward as nobody gets the reference and your tweet does little to end the #FOMO as the social wave goes by.

The last lesson – the twist. While it’s great to be part of the trend/challenge, you hit the sweet spot of exposure if your content has the twist. Everyone can share bottle caps getting kicked out. But if you can create a difference, it makes the content exciting and more appealing to the target audience. Consider Mariah Carey singing to blast off the cap, or the social media star Kusha Kapila’s Bollywood version (where the cap bounces off to hit a bowl of ‘sindoor’ which then conveniently lands on the wife’s forehead, no less!), or Kendall Jenner casually swinging the cap off while riding a jetski. The twist made all these videos stand out.

So the next time you sense a social trend coming up, or a social challenge brewing, step back and consider – Is it relatable to my brand? How soon can I post on it? How can I bring the twist? If you have the right answers, go for it. If you don’t, it’s okay to ‘cheat’ and come to us, one of the best social media agencies in Dubai. We can make the magic happen for you.

Keeping a secret is harder than ever

Seven Media - Keeping a secret is harder than ever

Last month, the famous Barasti Beach at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi launched House of Whatever – a disruptive concept which promises almost four months of spontaneity. Packed with ever-changing experiences and impromptu parties, Barasti wants to be the most talked-about destination in the region and it’s our job to make that happen.

“Expect the unexpected” is the House of Whatever mantra, and with a line-up of high-calibre international artists heading to Barasti, the hardest part for us as PR professionals is that our lips are sealed. That’s right, no revealing who the act will be until post-event. Ouch.

Just last week, a music artist who has sold more that 15 million records worldwide was set to perform a free one-off event at Barasti and we couldn’t talk about it. This put us in a tricky position. How is a story newsworthy to a publication if they don’t know what the story really is? How do we drive footfall to the venue without revealing the name?

When it comes to communicating the House of Whatever message and creating a hype without revealing any secrets, the integrated PR strategy had to be on point and ahead of the game.

We dropped hints to media across several platforms to kick-off the guessing game and drive hype surrounding the event. What we learned is that relationships with media are key, timing is critical, the power of social media is strong and ultimately, that keeping a secret is harder than ever!

Rumours spread like wildfire and took over some of the largest social communities in the region. An unknown source leaked the artist name on Facebook just hours before he was set to take the stage, however, that didn’t matter because at midnight, none other than R&B superstar Craig David took the stage to perform to a full house at Barasti.

The use of social media in the Middle East – what’s the best platform?

Seven Media - The use of social media in the Middle East

Two of Seven’s more experienced (older) PR professionals have been in the UK to get to grips with social media through a series of training sessions – and the way it is influencing their attitude to social media strategy is shaping Seven’s approach.

Looking at the use of Arabic language to tell a global brand story in the Middle East, there is no doubt Twitter has huge power. Short and sharp soundbites with great content to really cut through the noise and get directly to the target audience. But, on more local and lifestyle-based stories it has little effect. Yes, government and corporate communications campaigns that require an authoritative voice do need Twitter, but the impact seems to be growing less over time. Twitter is also very expensive to promote your content, compared to the other major channels.

On Instagram, the visual approach works well but can you really tell a serious story on Instagram? The majority of big businesses say no and it for that reason it is only part of the mix. There is also an increasing reluctance to have a separate regional page on Insta, as brands aim for global strategies. But with the right, powerful content, visual campaigns can grab the Instagram audience.

So where does Facebook fit in? For an audience in middle-age and with families it is the go-to – but when you add in Arabic to the mix it is not so clear.

And therein lies the puzzle for communications professionals. Bring them in from different regions across the globe and put them into a room together and it is clear that not only is the relevance of each social media platform changing, it is becoming more diverse country-by-county, making it a more complex process than ever before.

And that’s why you need Seven, one of the best social media agencies in Dubai, to help you.

When WWE came to KSA…

Seven Media - When WWE came to KSA

Global sports entertainment behemoth WWE recently descended on Saudi Arabia, and Seven was front and centre of the media and PR campaign for this incredible event.

A team of staff from our UAE and KSA offices were on the ground in Jeddah and ran the campaign for Super Showdown 19 – one of the Kingdom’s most anticipated sporting events of 2019 – and the results were truly world-class.

Saudi WWE fans are incredibly well versed in the narratives and personalities of their favourite Superstars, and we tailored the activities and output to deliver exactly that to press and influencers, resulting in huge levels of coverage and media footprint.

One of Seven Media’s key strengths is understanding the nuances of the local GCC markets and using that knowledge to successfully activate major global brands in the region. This was never more relevant than during these three-days in Jeddah and we made WWE ‘pop’ like never before.

Through a mix of press events, one-on-one interviews with Saudi WWE Superstar Mansoor, fun photo opps and heart-warming CSR stories, the whole Eid weekend saw WWE placed at the heart of every news and sport story running across top tier broadcast, print, online and influencer channels in KSA, and beyond.

PR at 30,000 feet

PR at 30,000 feet
By Gregg Fray, Co-Owner

People often talk about ‘work-life balance’. The notion of working hard from 9-5 then switching off completely is appealing in theory, but – as a hands-on owner of the region’s biggest independent PR agency and a busy video production studio – in practice it’s all but impossible.

In order to service clients, manage 85 staff and keep producing cutting-edge media content in a 24/7 news environment, I’ve opted for the alternative approach of ‘work-life integration’. So I’m writing this somewhere in the sky over Iraq on a flight to the UK I boarded at 7am at Dubai Airport.

I find it much easier to accept that my work is an intrinsic part of my waking hours, no matter where in the world I am. Through my iPhone – pretty much my single tool of the trade – I’m able to stay connected, make decisions, review content and execute on the fly. I only have an out of office auto reply on my emails to make clear I’m not in the UAE for meetings; for calls, What’s App messages, emails and social media I’m pretty much always available.

People argue it’s not healthy to never switch off, but I find it’s comforting to know I’m always on top of things … or better still, a few steps ahead.

Working on a plane allows head space to think with no other distractions (in the last couple of hours I’ve been through a PR strategy, contributed to a new business proposal, given feedback on two pieces of video content and started writing a speech I’ll be delivering at an event two weeks from now), but even upon landing I’ll be responsive.

Those who know me will know I travel a lot for business and family reasons. And by always being connected, my mind is settled in the knowledge that I don’t have work piling up behind me while I travel. Of course, it helps to enjoy your work if you employ this lifestyle choice. It also helps to have great department heads and staff you trust to deliver.

But luckily for me, being at the helm of Seven Media and Seven Studios is something I’m more than happy to build in to my routine even when I’m not in the office.

Football PR: A global game

Seven Media - Football PR: A global game

The end of the football season put Seven right in the middle of some major global sporting stories – combining live and reactive social media with big interviews and features.

With Manchester City FC winning an unprecedented three trophies in one season we had teams in both the UK and the Middle East covering all the action.

On the final day of the season the social media team in Dubai provided live updates on the game – followed by reaction from fans throughout MENA.

Arabic football fans are hugely active on social media and we needed to get involved in that conversation as much as possible, a major challenge when the thoughts and opinions are so fast and furious.

With Manchester City then winning the FA Cup at Wembley, the celebrations moved back to Manchester for a street parade which we once again reported from as we joined the thousands of fans lining the city streets.

These days the sporting season never really stops with summer competitions now on the Seven Media agenda, giving the PR and social media in Dubai teams the chance to “stay in shape” until it all starts again in August.

Coca-Cola Arena Dubai – a powerful integrated PR and social media launch campaign

Seven Media - Coca Cola Arena - a powerful integrated PR and social media launch campaign

The launch of the incredible Coca-Cola Arena Dubai is the perfect example of a modern PR campaign that ticks all the boxes when it comes to communication in the region.

From a classic media launch event with print, digital radio and TV reporting live to ongoing social media influencer buzz – it showed that if the story is powerful enough it can run for weeks.

The Seven team were right at the heart of the launch and emerged with a really positive outlook on the state of the media landscape in 2019.

The quality and scale of breaking news reporting was first class, in-depth features looked at the impact of the arena on the local and regional economy and the crossover into entertainment media went global.

Social media content was also brilliant – with influencers at the launch delivering live reports and a range of innovative communication techniques.

There are some who worry about media in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the Middle East but if this integrated PR and social media campaign proved anything it is that we are really in a state of progress – you just need to look a little deeper into what is really happening.

Seven Media is a leading PR and social media agency in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, offering both standalone social media campaigns and fully integrated PR and social media campaigns, as well as Seven Studios, the most creative and bold video production team in the region.