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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:


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.


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


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


Federico summed up the situation perfectly:


Jordan was clearly ecstatic:


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


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


Which was quickly followed by this scathing comment from Katie:


Charles straight up said what we were all thinking:


While Steve tried to lighten the mood a bit:


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


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


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.


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?


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]


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:


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:


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.

When Someone Cute Sits Next To You On A Plane

Posted on 02-02-2015

I spent the past weekend in London, and of course on my flight back home I silently chanted my mantra of “please let an attractive guy sit next to me on the plane” while lazing around the departure lounge because I was four fucking hours early for my flight. This is one of the only reasons why I enjoy flying economy – you’re forced to sit in close proximity to other people, and every so often when the gods are kind, you might get to sit next to someone remotely interesting and/or attractive. Now striking up a conversation with that person is a whole other dangerous game, which I’ll no doubt explain in another blog post. But back to this weekend – after casually checking the departures screen for my flight details several times as the hours ticked by, I suddenly noticed to my absolute horror that there was a “Gate Closing” notice next to my flight number. What in the actual fuck was happening I didn’t know or care, but I shot across the departure lounge to the gate with terrible images of my fellow passengers judging me as I boarded the flight last.

Thankfully I did make it on the flight, and there were no shady looks from any of the staff, which was a blessing. Wheeling my flaming pink carry-on suitcase down the aisle, I rocked up to my aisle seat and locked eyes with Surfer Dude who was sitting in the window seat. Now of course this guy’s name wasn’t actually Surfer Dude, but he fitted the bill perfectly. Steely blue eyes, casually tousled hair, and a jawline that you could cut glass with. I smiled a little, and he proceeded to completely fuck up my hormone levels by taking off his bulky grey sweater to reveal chiseled arms, a broad chest, and a t-shirt that was of course too small to contain all his Surfer awesomeness. I slid into my seat and tried to ignore the fact that he was playing Candy Crush on his phone with the concentration and facial expression that one would usually reserve for solving differential equations.

But as with most people who fly (myself included), he put on his headphones and continued his Candy Crush marathon while occasionally stopping to partially devour a bag of Cadbury’s Chocolate Buttons. And with it being a night flight, my body of course demanded sleep, however it did not take into consideration that a 6ft person like me would need the flexibility of a Cirque du Soleil contortionist in order to comfortably fall asleep in an economy class seat. Nevertheless, I dozed off for a while, and when I woke a scant twenty minutes later, I was facing Surfer Dude with my mouth very much prominently open, probably my body’s natural method of ‘peacocking’ my best assets. Look at this mouth and think of all the forbidden things it can do…

Surfer Dude had pretty much noticed me awaken from my slumber (the quite audible sound of me snapping my mouth shut may have alerted him), and he turned towards me. I, however, was still quite haphazardly squeezed in my chair, and just stared back at him. At which point he slid off his headphones, ran his hand through his hair, and leaned in closer to me. My headphones were still pretty much wedged into my head, and Calvin Harris’ Sweet Nothing was aptly blaring in my ear drums. Surfer Dude began to say something, and of course I couldn’t hear shit, so I yanked out my headphones as gracefully as I could and uttered a feeble “Yes?” at him. He leaned in close again, locked eyes with me and gently whispered in that recognizable Australian twang,

“Mate, ya mind if I squeeze past ya and get to the toilet?”

I’m looking at a June wedding.

You Know That “Recall” Option In Your Email?

Posted on 15-01-2015

You know the feeling – you’ve spent the past hour composing an email, filling everyone into the BCC, attaching the right documents, and then you hit Send. Except you then notice a spelling mistake, or there’s an “XXXXXX” where there should be a quote from your client.


Now ordinarily at this point you would have cleared your desk, formatted your PC, dropped your tacky souvenir holiday items into a box and quit your job.


Someone in IT once told you that if you ever fucked up an email, you could magically pray to the Internet gods and they would disperse their minions to the corners of the earth to delete that faulty email from people’s inboxes. That magical prayer was called “Recall Message”, and looked like this:


So of course, you breathe a sigh of relief, click the button, and think that everything is right with the world.

Except, it’s not.

The ‘Recall Message’ (specifically for those who use Outlook), doesn’t work the way you think it does. The Recall Message ONLY works for internal emails, so if for example you send your coworker an email calling her a fat whore and then regret it, you can hit the Recall Message to automagically delete the email from her Inbox (if she hasn’t opened it already). Crisis averted, all is right with the world, and you can go back to being fake BFFs at work.

But for the rest of the world, i.e everyone else in your address book, this recall function doesn’t work. In fact, it makes things even more messed up because when you click the “Recall Message” button, people will get ANOTHER email from you saying that “XXXXX wants to recall the message”, which then makes us pore over your original message EVEN MORE trying to figure out why you didn’t want us to open it.

A simpler solution? Just send a new email with “Correction” or something like that in the subject. We understand email fuck-ups will happen, but if you’re one of those people who thinks that the Recall Message is the solution, well I just have one thing to say:


(Cheers Aby)