Sunday, May 6, 2007

Sher Value: Has Dubai's PR Budget Paid off

Traveling around the United States is an experience, especially for those who will engage and listen; a vast country of diversity in every aspect. Living in Dubai means that in most conversations with the educated elite in the US one gets an interesting perspective of how the average well educated US citizen sees Dubai. My discussions have been with a diverse people from a PhD in Physics to eminent doctors and leading business and even Public Relations gurus. Here is the bottom line of how I see Dubai's PR exercise in the US has panned out.

In terms of the Brand Dubai is concerned there is instant recognition through an number of interesting channels of instant correlation; the Burj al Arab, Emirates Airlines, the horse racing especially the Dubai World Cup. The much publicized DP World episode while in the minds of people does not really provide clarity to audience and more often I was asked by people 'explain Dubai to us' almost in the same breath in which they talked of DP World and the ports deal.

Yes Dubai's spend in Branding has begun to pay off, but in terms of 'explain Dubai' or the real substance of the public relations side of things is concerned it would seem there is much more to be achieved. I have engaged in discussions with some of the best PR minds in the business and it is obvious that for Dubai they must consider a US perspective on getting their PR message into the general public and not only concentrate on select groups. This boils down to strategy, and it would seem here in lies the need for some strategic thinking. Someone has to address the issues not from what Dubai needs, but more importantly what PR strategy is best for Dubai and brings about an acceptance in the minds of the people about the positives of Dubai.

I am of the firm belief that the general public would be in awe and acceptance of the strategy that Dubai is following in its business and social agenda, but that message is not getting into the realm of the general public in the States and perhaps also in Europe. There is that mysterious void in the minds of these well traveled and very smart people here when it comes to Dubai; they know a good about its brands and the general hype and then nothing more. Sure National Geographic writes an article and here and there something crops up but then what happens? There has to be a consistent policy of educating the US about what Dubai is about, bringing out the stories that matter, bringing out the human interest angle and engage in a dialogue with the people.

In a sense the first part of brand Dubai being recognized is well underway, its time some depth was brought into the process. This is where a deeper and well thought out strategy is needed. This is and must be an integral part of the strategy ahead.

1 comment:

Chenny said...

As a result of some fortunate developments, my company has started doing some very nice business in the UAE. While on a recent visit to Dubai I asked Mr. Sher to "explain cricket". In about half an hour he covered the major issues and had started touching on some fine points. I was well informed. The general fundamentals of a game that had resisted my understanding for decades had suddenly become - if not clear - at least comprehensible.

Now, if Dubai could "publicly relate" about its policy, its place in the world and its vision for the future as well as Mr. Sher related on behalf of a game, the managers of the PR apparatus would have much to be proud of. As best I can tell, they are not doing so. Why not? What is it that Sher had that the PR guys don't have?

The answer is "PASSION"! Anwer Sher is passionate about cricket and he can; therefore, explain it and promote it. The PR guys need to find among themselves the passionate people and turn them loose.

Dubai has much to be proud of and much to relate to the US. Americans love BIG. We love BIG AND FAST even better. We love big heroes and big sports stars and big entertainment personalities. Dubai is perfect for making the US love it. Everything there is happening BIG and happening FAST. It also helps that everything is a little "exotic". Walt Disney would have gotten his hands around the Dubai opportunity in about five minutes and the Dubai PR apparatus will do so also.