Dubai’s new image
According to reports, Dubai Inc may soon have a PR agency to help change its image in the media. Will it work?
March 9, 2009 11:35 by Aarti Nagraj
“If the brief being given to the agency is ‘work with us to work on this process’, then that’s a wonderful thing. But if the brief being given to the agency is ‘we want a positive media coverage for Dubai’, then I think it cannot work,” he says.
The first challenge PR agencies face is separating fact from fiction; to publicize an honest and accurate account of how Dubai has been hit by the financial crisis (because it has been hit by the financial crisis), before it begins to extol the ‘greatness’ of the city. They will need to give numbers and names, and then talk about how they will get back to normal, and what they’re doing to achieve that goal.
The last thing Dubai needs is more public proclamations on how rosy everything is in Dubai, which include statements from officials, such as Mohamed Ali Alabbar, the head of Emaar properties: “Our feet are firmly planted on the ground, and our eyes remain fixed on new horizons, on a future that remains bright.” The statement was made in November 2008, weeks before companies in Dubai went on a firing spree.
But McNabb says that while transparency is essential, it may not happen as quickly as one would want.
Bringing about a change in the perspective of Dubai Inc is going to take time, he says, “Because you want to build something enduring. It’s not about putting a sticky plaster over the negative media, but about building something that works [...] across the long term, and that gives you long term value.”
“[...] That means investing in the process. Not just financially, but with resources, with intellectual capacity, with the guidance of people who are able to take decisions from the very top [...] if it’s going to work.”
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