web analytics

What #UAEJournos Say And What They Really Mean

Posted on 13-12-2015

This blog post was submitted anonymously and with little editorial correction. 

In my several years in PR, I’ve learned to correctly navigate the perils of working with journalists. You get some amazing people who are quick to bounce around ideas for a story with you, or graciously decline your story pitch and explain why it wouldn’t work for them. Then of course I moved to Dubai and everything I thought I knew about journalists went up in smoke.

The #UAEJournos are a special brand of people – I think by now I’ve met everyone I’ve ever needed to meet, so it’s safe to say that this list of observations covers everything you need to know. It’s certainly not an exhaustive list, but it’s a great starting ground for anyone who’s floundering in the bowels of #UAEPR and needs some guidance. Print it out, share it with colleagues, get it tattooed on your arm if you have to – hopefully it will save you time, energy, effort, and sanity.

So here is a handy list of what #UAEJornos say to you and what they really mean:

I can’t make it for your event = I’ve found a better event to go to.

I’m not sure if I can make it for your event = Will you be sending an Uber/limo (real request) to pick me?

I have another event to attend at the same time = I’m going to another event where the probability of me walking away with better freebies is higher. Soz.

Sounds good, can you send it to our editorial inbox and we’ll check it out? = This story is crap and I just want to get back to work, so send it to an email address that we basically use as a junk box for annoying PR.

I’m not covering stories like this, but can you send it to my other editor XXXX = Neither of us are interested in this story, but at least you can bug someone else besides me?

What time is the event? = that’s the time I will leave the office.

The event’s in the evening? = is it really worth my while to come to an event after work hours?

We can publish that if it’s exclusive to us = I probably won’t publish that story but I don’t want any of our competitors to run it either.

I don’t think I got that email = I got the email, I just deleted it anyway.

I can’t see that press release – can you send it again? = Send it again so I can re-live the joy of deleting it without opening it.

Sure, I think we could maybe do a story with that = We’re not going to do a story on that.

Sorry, I couldn’t include that product in our guide = you didn’t send me a freebie like everyone else did. Soz.

How soon can you send that over? = I really only need it by next week, but please drop what you’re doing and send it to me immediately anyway.

 

Not Into Asians

Posted on 07-10-2015

It’s the same story every day. Boy meets boy, boy chats with boy, boy likes boy, boy says ‘sorry, not into Indians‘.

I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a chat with a guy that didn’t begin with “Hi, from?” The moment I tell someone that I’m Indian (or Asian as per the various apps), I’m either blocked or get the swift “Sorry, not my type” response.

What’s even more infuriating are the guys who write in their profiles “Love all guys, hit me up with a msg!” followed by “No offense, but not into Asians“.

Seriously, you can’t make this shit up.

I went on a drinks date last night to a bar, following a great online coversation I was having with a guy. He was nearby, we were bored, so drinks were settled on. We met, sat down, chatted for a while longer, and then after about 15 minutes with me, he straight up said to my face “I’m sorry dude, but this isn’t going to work out – not attracted to Indian guys, sorry should have said earlier“.

It honestly felt like a slap to the face – dealing with this sort of response in real life is totally different from hearing it online. I just sat stupidly afterwards drinking by myself before heading home to bed. I’ve often wondered (wrongly) if my nationality really is such a big deal when it comes to dating. Are guys that closed off that they only date guys based on what passport they hold? It honestly is the worst feeling to have – that you’re not worth speaking to or even meeting for a drink just because you’re from a certain country.

Welcome to the cesspool that is my dating life, ladies and gentlemen.

This Is What Happens When A PR CC’s 400 Journalists On An Email

Posted on 26-08-2015

Ah PR.

It’s often a thankless job, especially when you’re at the mercy of journalists (shout out to #UAEPR). But every so often, you have to stop what you’re doing an educate someone in how not to work in PR.

Every day journalists are sent press releases – some good, some bad, some irrelevant to what they cover. Which is sort of expected really, so it’s just a simple matter of deleting the rubbish ones that come through. But this morning was a total riot, as one PR person decided to do a double whammy.

To put things in context first, the press release was about a product that a pregnant mother had dreamt up while she was in bed nursing a broken foot. “The Holding Cell” is a little bit of plastic that slides under your mattress and holds your cell phone while you sleep. Because of course, the idea of a bedside table is dumb as fuck. It’s currently on Kickstarter trying to raise $22,000 to make this plastic dream a reality:

11822660_738417042970943_1070183238564968385_n

But this blog post isn’t about shitty Kickstarter ideas, but rather about the PR that sent it. Because in their infinite wisdom (or lack thereof), they decided to send this press release to 400+ journalists. All in the ‘CC’.

Yup, I’m not kidding around, all of us were in CC as plain as could be.

screen1

And that’s of course when everything went to shit. The first blow was dealt by lovely Noreen:

screen2

Owen pitches in with a gif (the first of many)

screen3

Federico summed up the situation perfectly:

screen4

Jordan was clearly ecstatic:

screen5

By this time the poor PR having realized their mistake, decided to try and make the best out of a terrible situation:

screen6

Full points for effort, but Brock was quickly dethroned by Cody:

screen7

Which was quickly followed by this scathing comment from Katie:

screen8

Charles straight up said what we were all thinking:

screen9

While Steve tried to lighten the mood a bit:

screen10

But Shanley was having none of this bullshit in their inbox:

screen11

Bur thankfully Noreen and Anne were not impressed by this outburst:

screen12
screen13

And that, is what happens when you cc 400+ journalists on a terrible press release.

The Date

Posted on 16-08-2015

I’m late.

I hate being late. It’s a sign that you haven’t thought things through. That you haven’t planned ahead. But today work was threatening to engulf me completely, and I wasn’t about to spend yet another evening staring at my computer screen. I check my phone for messages and then remember there’s no phone reception down here. I stuff my phone back in my pocket and vault up the stairs, politely escaping the hoards of tourists trying to navigate their way. I’m twenty minutes late already, and within minutes I’m back on the street, the cool evening air whipping around me. I zip my coat up higher and walk up the street, fingers digging deep into my pockets for warmth. I glance at my reflection in a shop window and notice to my dismay that my once elegantly styled hair is now a messy mop of haphazard streaks, blowing in the wind. I reach the restaurant door and quickly compose myself, before running my hands through my hair to make it look as presentable as possible.

I step through and the warmth inside rushes towards me, warming up my alarmingly cold fingers. I mumble a feeble “I’m meeting someone” to the waitress who greets me, and I scan the busy tables for him. In the least-crowded corner I spot him sitting at a table, a bottle of red in front of him and his glass in hand. Fuck, I mentally say to myself, and move over to join him. He instantly brightens up and sets down his glass, standing up to give me a hug. His breath is warm against my neck for the brief moment we embrace, and his shirt has a slightly earthy, wooden scent to it. I was beginning to think you weren’t coming, he adds playfully as we sit down. I smile sheepishly and apologise for my lateness, but he dismisses it almost instantly. You’re here now, so don’t worry about it.

A drink appears in front of me – a tall martini glass with a frosted rim and a light pink concoction. I’m about to ask the waitress what it is when he interrupts me. It’s virgin, don’t worry – I think you’ll like it. I lift the glass to my lips and my tongue savours a light and slightly sweet drink with hints of strawberry and ginger. He watches me take a sip and raises his glass to do the same. Cheers, I say confidently, meeting his gaze and clinking our glasses together. I got you something, he adds, reaching into his pocket. He places on the table a bright white and red coloured ball on a stick, loosely wrapped in cellophane with a small red bow at the bottom – a cake pop. You were talking about Red Velvet some time ago, so I thought you’d like a sweet treat, he adds craftily.

It’s adorable and cheesy at the same time, but I smile at him and pick up the delicate confection. We lock our gazes again, and I can feel his urge to reach over the table and kiss me. I wonder what that would look like here – what other people who say or if anyone would really care at all. I would just have to lean over the already diminutive table and kiss him, smelling that familiar woody scent once again. I shut the moment out of my head and snap back to reality rather abruptly. Thank you, I say as he smiles for another sip of wine.

We’ve played it safe tonight with Italian, though I know we could have certainly found a less popular place to have a more intimate evening. But above the din and clinking of glasses we talk about work, travel, families, relationships, and food. The conversation is now effortless between us – the wine certainly helping things along – and the more I talk the more at ease I become. I look at him again – really look at him, and take in his many details. A slight scar near his left eye, round glasses that he keeps pushing back, light and wispy hair that would look better cut short, a smart shirt with the top button unbuttoned, and a playful and slightly boyish smile that comes to light every so often. In that moment I realise that I don’t want the evening to end, as cliched as that sounds. Because that would mean having to wait for a text or call the next day or the day after, to see if we should meet again. Or we continue to meet and start to like each other even more. I drag him halfway around the world to a friend’s wedding, and we have the best night of our lives. We grab last minute tickets to a show and don’t care that they’re terrible seats because he’s sitting next to me and laughing along. He attempts to coerce me into loving the great outdoors, which is a terrible, terrible idea, but he is stubborn and refuses to give up. We throw a dinner party and friends comment how perfect we look together. We travel to see families at Christmas, and spend New Year’s Eve on the rooftop freezing in the cold but keeping each other company before running back indoors. He asks me to move in, and suddenly it is as real as it’s ever been for me. No games, no drama, no second-guessing, no lies, no bullshit. Just him and I and our many years ahead.

No – this evening, this night, this date, is all I will care to remember.

Why Digital Influencers Are The Worst

Posted on 15-07-2015

It’s a new epidemic sweeping across brands and PR agencies – the undying and unfathomable love for ‘digital influencers’.

I noticed this trend back in 2012 when certain people on my Twitter feed were raving about a new coffee machine they had been sent to try out. Sprawled right across the top of the box was the person’s Twitter handle, and the big bold words “DIGITAL INFLUENCER”. After about a week of listening to these people rave about how the coffee from this machine was literally “the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had in Dubai!!!!”, I wisely unfollowed them.

The notorious rise of the DI is something that is hard to pinpoint. Brands are always on the lookout for cool, hip, and trendy people who can bark about their brand day and night with little to no effort required on their part. Also keep in mind that brands love DIs because there’s practically zero cost involved – wave something free in their faces and chances are they’ll be eating out of your hands. Of course the actual process within dealing with a DI is probably more complicated – meetings, agreements, etc. but we never hear or see any of that. All we see is one person suddenly in love with a particular brand, plastering it across every single platform they’re on.

Dilbert-Social-Media-Consultant

The endless quest for likes, tweets, instas, and what not is something that won’t leave the digital space any time soon. And our DIs thrive on this – it’s their lifeblood. What’s actually disturbing is just how ineffective these people actually can be at times. Brands and agencies hope that by pairing up with person X, that instantly all of their followers and social fans will jump on the bandwagon and become loyal customers as well. That’s not necessarily untrue – celebs do this all the time, and fans flock to try out new perfumes, clothes, and eateries if it’s anything remotely related to their idol. But for DIs it’s a slightly different prospect – just because someone appears to have a mass following doesn’t necessarily mean they have any real influence over them.  Being popular does not make you an influencer. An influencer would also never refer to themselves as being one either – that would defeat the purpose.

I’ve been tagged as a DI through no fault of my own, so pretty much every month or so I have agencies reaching out to me to pair up with some brand or the other. Here’s one that I got early this year:

I’m emailing you on behalf of ____________, who are launching a new influencer program that we would like for you to be a part of.

As part of the influencer program, you will be amongst a select few regional social media influencers that will have the opportunity to attend local, regional as well as global brand events and you will receive the latest products to use and hopefully integrate into your life. We believe your influence comes from the great content you create and that the credibility of your work depends on honest feedback to your followers and while we are confident our products will have a great added value to your life, we look forward to be hearing your opinion.

What puzzles me the most is that I don’t actually keep track of what my digital footprint/following is. I don’t count my tweets, don’t celebrate when I hit 10k followers, and certainly don’t give away stuff on my Instagram account. And the best part is trying to figure out what ‘great content’ they’re talking about – in the past agencies have said “We love your blog and the content you publish on it” and I think to myself “Are they talking about this blog?” Another great thing I did some time ago was to ‘audit’ a so-called DI, and on their Twitter account alone, over 90% of their followers were fake. What sort of influence are you hoping to get when your primary audience is going to be bots?

100156.strip_

Of course the real pickle when dealing with DIs is how agencies and brands voluntarily pay to have these people on board. And let me tell you something – if you see some of the rates these so called DIs charge, you’ll want to quit your job and become a DI too. Almost as demanding as a blagger blogger, DIs can be divas all on their own, often asking for outrageous things just because…well, they can. A typical DI’s day goes something like this:

8:00am Wakes up, Tweets/Instagrams flawless photo #stayinbed #gottawork #blessed

8:05am Scroll through list of notifications, RT all the lovely supportive messages, block trolls

8:10am Tweet to a brand that the online order they made four days ago still hasn’t arrived #deliveryfail #customersupport #shopping #wtf

9:00am “Can’t wait to use my [beauty brand] to fix my looks up before I head out! #facial #skincare

10:00am Breakfast as some hipster cafe, top-down Instagram photo of their breakfast, optional newspaper or magazine nearby to show people they can read. Don’t forget to tag the restaurant!

11:00am Checks email for brand opportunities from PR agencies, replies with “Would love to take part!”

12:00pm Outfit Of The Day post, at least 17 photos taken to choose the best one

You kinda get the idea.

In my opinion, DIs add very little actual value – they make a bit of fuss and noise for a while, but after it dies down there’s no actual way to track if anyone was even listening to them to begin with. Sure you can look at boring numbers like their likes and retweets, but neither of these translate into something a brand would find valuable. The word “influencer” in itself is misleading – in my journeys across the Interwebs I’ve seen plenty of people bark on and on about various brands (and free things), but reading these hardly made me want to jump out of my seat and buy them as well. If brands want to use DIs as a kind of ‘brand megaphone’, then that’s exactly what they’re going to get. When it comes to something of actual value, that’s where the debate begins. What fuels things forward is that no one seems to grasp this point. People put so much of weight and faith in DIs that it goes straight to their heads, and that’s where it needs to stop. There’s nothing more irritating than seeing a post on your timeline that has been carefully crafted to look genuine, but you know is part of some elaborate scheme for a product plug.

Got some examples of truly terrible influencers? Drop a few lines in the comments!

Love is…

Posted on 27-06-2015


If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. [1 Corinthians 13]

#LoveIsLove

Death To The Fucking Man Bun

Posted on 25-06-2015

I’ve had it.

I tried ignoring it. I tried embracing it. I tried telling myself that if the guy was sufficiently hot enough, I could learn to love it. But no more. I am utterly and 100% fed up with the man-bun.

For those of you who aren’t aware of this plague sweeping across the scalps of men around the world, a ‘man-bun’ is a small unimpressive mound of hair atop a gent’s scalp, created by growing ones hair out and attempting to pull back the hair into a sleek bob. For months and months, men have fooled themselves into thinking that this protruding mound of hair was stylish and/or made them sexier. I hate to break it to ya fellas, but it doesn’t.

To me a man-bun screams lazy. It tells me that you can’t be arsed to take proper care of your hair, and so you just thought that it would be a good idea to grow it out and tie it up into a bun. While I realise that in the 80s and 90s men used to rock a ponytail, the fad has long died, and your man-bun is soon to follow suit.

There have been several male celebrities in past months who have worn the man-bun, and each one is worse than the next. Everyone from DiCaprio to Hemsworth to Beckham have all at one point had one, and it’s depressing as fuck. I feel like it should be illegal to have a man-bun, yet there are articles like this that actively encourage guys to grow a man-bun. (My favourite line is “You don’t need a brush, comb, or a shower to create a great man bun.” – basically throw your personal hygiene out the door and you’re good to go).

I think most men are under the delusion that a man-bun makes them sexier. No, no, no, no – you’ve got it all wrong buddy. A man-bun works the opposite way – it turns most elegant, sexy, eligible men into cheaper, unwashed, undesirable versions of themselves. Men look at celebs with a man-bun and think “That could be me! I bet that guy is getting tons of sex despite that hairy abomination on his head!” NOPE – a man-bun won’t get you laid, but it’s as good as wearing a chastity belt. Any time I now see a guy on Tindr with a man-bun, I just automatically swipe left. I’ll just leave it in the hands of natural selection to weed out these bun-fanatics until this trend well and truly dies a horrible death.

This Is What Happens When One Direction Comes To Your City

Posted on 04-04-2015

#1DDubai happened – here’s the aftermath:

I Am Not Your Gay Best Friend

Posted on 24-03-2015

I will sit with you in class and doodle on your notepad while the professor drones on about some subject that neither of us really cares about. I will daydream with you about our future lives and giggle when the cute boys pass us by in the hallway. I will chat far too loudly with you in the library until we are asked to leave, which between you and me is just fine because that place smells of old things and sweaty feet. I will spend long hours with you poring over dead textbooks as we fruitlessly cram hours before our final exams, with notes and half-eaten dinners strewn around us. I will smile back at you as you climb on stage in front of our peers, addressing us all for one last time before we make it on our own in the world.

But I am not your Gay Best Friend.

I will roll my eyes when you tell me that you’ve found ‘The One’ and remind you again how many times you’ve said this in the past. I will smile and be polite when I meet him, saving my judgement for when we’re back at my apartment and I can safely confide in you over a bottle of wine or two.

But I am not your Gay Best Friend.

I will gracefully decline your invitation to join your bachelorette party, much to your dismay, despite trying to entice me with promises of my own exciting lap dance. I will calm you down on your big day and remind you how lucky you are and how beautiful you look – and by god you will look beautiful. I will stand in the front row at your wedding and watch as you walk down the aisle towards the man you love, and later raise a toast to the girl I met years ago who grew into the woman I know today.

But I am not your Gay Best Friend.

What Happens During A Sandstorm

Posted on 21-02-2015

People tend to forget that Dubai is essentially a desert. So when a sandstorm hits the city and blinds us all in its fury, people are all like:

01

I mean there’s sand everywhere, wind howling around you, trees potentially ready to fall on you, BUT FIRST:

Okay, with the #SandstormSelfie out of the way, here are some real things that happen when a sandstorm hits Dubai:

You realize that your day of tanning at the beach is ruined: 02

Or worse still, your outdoor brunch has to be moved indoors: 03

You’ve washed your hair and blown it to perfection but Mother Nature had zero fucks to give: 04

This familiar sight will greet you in your balcony:

Meanwhile, your car looks like this:

car

And driving around will be like this:

Oh and if you’ve ‘accidentally’ left your laundry out to dry: 05

So yes, a sandstorm may end up ruining your day a bit: mi4-cruise-run

But calm the fuck down people. It’ll all blow over.