An ever-evolving market

26th January 2015

I’ve been a PR and marketing headhunter in Dubai for the past two and a half years, and throughout this period I’ve noticed many changes.

One of my first observations is that it used to be much easier to relocate mid to senior level candidates from mature markets such as Europe, as clients were very open to seeing candidates from outside the region. In 2014, things seemed to change and agencies appeared less likely to look at candidates who have never worked in the region before. Clients have also become very specific about sector skills and knowledge required from candidates.

Another observation I have made, is that, unlike in the past where PR agencies largely operated as a separate entity to their advertising peers; over the last 2 years the gap has clearly been bridged between the two, bringing the digital spectrum ever closer to the forefront of both and with each sharing ideas on how they can increase their revenue through innovation and fresh ideas.

We will (of course) see many PR and marketing specialists being heavily involved in the digital side. Looking at the facts: more than 90% of the UAE population read articles on their smartphones, with over 50% of people admitting to watching videos and reading news apps through such means.

This leads on to the planning and strategy side of PR; I believe agencies will be investing into these areas. I think agencies will become very open to ATL, BTL and digital planning specialists…giving them a fresh outlook and an exciting approach to this year!

As we move into 2015, a recommendation I give to my clients is to look at Arabic talent from Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan where excellent, talented individuals can be found working at world renowned agencies, hungry for an opportunity to break into the GCC market.

The situation in Qatar is always a tough one as far as visas are concerned; hiring in 2014 was very tough for Arab nationals coming from the Levant and MENA regions due to restrictions. My predictions are that candidates will be looking to the UAE in terms of career longevity rather than Qatar.

A point I must stress is that PR and marketing companies need to ensure they don’t make the mistake of offering huge salaries to candidates, leaving the industry in a state of salary saturation, offering the candidate the ability to command a higher salary than before, leading the market into being a ‘candidate driven’ situation.

To balance the equilibrium, my recommendation for clients is to continue relocating talent into the region. This will level out the salaries offered to senior specialists in the marketplace and make it a fairer market to all.

DMCG Global Network Offices