By Sophie Toh / Khaleej Times
SOURCE: Khaleej TImes - Women empowerment in the world of business
When it comes to business, I think it's about attitude and self-belief rather than a preoccupation with expectations around what a woman should or shouldn't be, or how she should behave. General rules apply to us all, in that we all need to feel able to follow our instincts and be brave.
I think with females, we perhaps need to recognise that we need slightly more encouragement, as we're prone to self-doubt and we do face very real challenges around juggling personal and family development with our career path. So my advice would be to really look at what matters to you and don't compare. Remember that you are the best judge of your capabilities and the type of environment and role you need to put yourself in. Once in a good place, remain hungry and humble and always remain open to feedback. A career is definitely a journey - there are moments you will feel like you're achieving success, but remember that it's OK to feel as if you have a long way to go. We all do, and whilst it's not always easy, there's joy to be found in consistently committing to something that you love.
Women entrepreneurship in our region
I am aware that I have been fortunate to benefit from the entrepreneurial attitude in the Middle East. I moved to the UAE in 2009 without any real plans to even work, and certainly not to build a business. TOH evolved both out of my curiosity to push myself in a new environment and a need to channel my creative energies into something. But ultimately, I was in a part of the world where these qualities were celebrated, and I remember receiving incredible support from men and women around me and encouragement that this was a country where my skills were helpful and constructive.
What values women can add to PR, media
Without generalising, I think that women understand the nuances of situations well and make decisions that are balanced and based on consensus and discussion, as opposed to taking an overtly one-sided view. This is very helpful in terms of team building and I think can be very motivational to work for. In the media world, we are highly articulate, and many successful women are hugely charismatic which brings its own personal magnetism - making us incredibly effective in client facing and relationship building roles.
Print to digital: Advantage or disadvantage?
I love the constant wave of technology-driven change in our industry. It has taken the PR world from a reliance on print and traditional editorial focus to almost limitless channels of online and offline leverage. In a sense, we've been handed the keys to the digital content kingdom, which keeps us on our toes and endlessly inspired in our daily roles. Sometimes planning a campaign feels like being a kid in a candy shop.
Client preference in the meantime
The GCC has been an early adopter of the social media influencer and this has definitely been an area of opportunity and interest for clients. However, in my opinion, this has come at the expense of investment and focus on robust, content-driven branded websites - when compared to the rest of the world. When we complain about the rise of influencers and the lack of framework in that area, we are really bemoaning the lack of other options for clients wishing to be seen and heard online
Values PR might add to business, and how can we compare it to advertising
PR is about negotiation, highly attuned and almost intuitive people skills and a commitment to best practice and results. It is more subtle and nuanced than advertising and requires a strong focus on messaging and communication channels. In contrast, advertising is about reach, impact and volume - a slightly stronger and more defined approach. They're both wonderful disciplines and fundamental parts of a marketing campaign, but I do think the lines between both is blurring. Which isn't a bad thing, or something to resist; more a part of the continual evolution of communication and technology. Ultimately, we are all human, and we all respond to storytelling - in whatever format it might take at that moment in time.
PR transformation to digital PR
I think we're there. Digital is interwoven into everything a PR professional does. We're all digital natives now.
The writer is managing director at TOH PR. Views expressed are her own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.
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