Expecting a monumental fourth quarter

The communications industry is bracing itself says The Romans’ Alexandra Dewar

The UAE’s final quarter is a renowned whirlwind for the business community. For those of us working in communications, it seems to come around faster every year – agencies are inundated with RFPs, and the appetite for creative ideas that cut through seems insatiable.

With COP28 on home soil, the UAE’s 52nd National Day and numerous international sports and entertainment events, Q4 of 2023 promises to be monumentally busy.

This year offers the opportunity to leverage the region’s major events tenfold, allowing brands to make a lasting impression while positioning themselves as leaders in key topics within their respective industries.

Here’s my take on key trends and opportunities for communicators to make the most of this extraordinary time in the UAE.

Reshaping brand narratives

Effective communication strategies stem from a strong brand narrative. In today’s conscious consumer landscape, brand messaging must resonate with the audience and that comes from words backed by action and tangible results.

In the second half of 2023, communicators should expect to feel more pressure from key decision-makers to ensure brand narratives demonstrate an authentic commitment to sustainability, responsible business practices, social impact and, most importantly and crucially, are backed up with evidence.

Get ahead by refining your brand narrative now and exploring the various mediums to bring it to life creatively and effectively. It’s also worth being prepared to do further refinement following COP28 to demonstrate the brand’s ability to adapt to evolving regulations.

Heightened focus on ESG  

ESG topics are at the forefront of global discussions, and the UAE will take centre stage in November when the country hosts COP28. Comms professionals are crucial in helping organisations communicate their ESG initiatives and goals.

For the agency-client landscape, expect a surge in ESG-specific client briefs. The media will be on the hunt for credible voices for ESG commentary and thought leadership, so agencies should be media training experts client-side so they can pitch commentary and opinion pieces articles proactively. The list goes on.

Communicators should invest in knowledge building within their own walls to stay informed about emerging trends, regulations, and best practices so they can advise clients accurately.

More purpose-led campaigning

Purpose-led campaigns are essential for making a powerful impact when global challenges and issues, such as climate change, dominate public discussion.  We know brands can build trust, loyalty, and positive brand associations by demonstrating a genuine commitment to social and environmental responsibility. Plus, it’s the right thing to do.

It’s fair to expect increased demand from consumers and the public and private sectors for brands to proactively align themselves with topics and causes and engage in initiatives meaningfully. So, anticipate more briefs for creative campaigns to go live around COP28.

It’s worth remembering that consumers can spot noise for the sake of noise a mile off, so campaigns designed to stop people in their tracks and spark debates must be carefully considered and planned and, of course, have an evidence-based narrative at the core.

The rise of the micro-influencer

Influencer marketing will see a notable shift towards micro-influencers in the UAE (and beyond) in the latter half of 2023. These influencers have smaller but highly engaged niche audiences, particularly those discussing ESG topics. They are highly valuable to purposeful storytelling, allowing brands to establish more authentic connections.

To leverage this continuing trend, comms teams must prioritise building relationships with micro-influencers with credible voices in the ESG space who strongly align with their brand values. To reach specific target markets, it’s important to collaborate closely with micro-influencers on concepts and storytelling to generate meaningful interactions.

As the Q4 rush approaches in the UAE, comms teams and agencies must be prepared, so taking action now is essential.

The “quiet” summer months are the perfect time for brands and agency partners to revisit H2 plans and prepare for the Q4 rush – identifying relevant hooks, finding the strongest news angle, and establishing a rhythm to implement strategies quickly.

By Alexandra Dewar, Partner and Head of Dubai, The Romans