Activating IT brands
For a long time it has been felt that although a significant sector of the local IT industry has been doing some amazing work, this success continues to be a well-kept secret – one of the reasons for this being that “Branding” “Public Relations” and “Leveraging Media” have not been core strengths for a larger number of our companies.
So P@SHA and CIO-Pakistan decided to run an “Activate your brands” workshop to test the waters and see where the weaknesses were and how we could start to bridge the gap.
The workshop was run at the Sheraton in Karachi on April 22. CIO had an event there earlier in the day. We had the space and the high tea, and a space for 20-25 people. It would have been such a shame to let it go to waste so we sent out an email to P@SHA registered companies in Karachi to sign up for the workshop. They didn’t have to be asked twice. The slots filled up quite quickly.
The speakers were Sabeen Mahmud (COO of b.i.t.s and Director T2F), Rabia Garib (Editor-in-Chief of CIO Pakistan) and Salaina Haroon (Director of C-Collective). I started the proceedings by telling participants about the branding and promotion opportunities that they were missing out on by not leveraging the P@SHA Communication vehicles – the website, the blog, the newsletter and the ITLoW webcasts, as well as all the events that could be used to good advantage. I briefly explained how they could capitalize on these opportunities and explained why some press releases and success stories submitted by companies, were not used. What is considered “news”, what is not. What is likely to be published, what is not. There were opportunities they could avail for free, and then there were the advertising and sponsorship opportunities.
My opening presentation was followed by Sabeen talking about branding at length and explaining how she had branded T2F very cost effectively. She went through some assumptions and misconceptions that people had about branding – Some very basic things that we sometimes tend to forget or have actually never thought about.
It was an interactive session (no the participants were not allowed to sit back and relax). Some of the concerns included the unavailability of advertising agencies who actually understood the tech sector – “None of them really get it” said one participant. “I actually have to sit down and work with them on the mechanics of the entire strategy – and I am not a brand expert!” Some solutions were discussed which included more hands-on one to one workshops and the development of cost-effective packages for companies.
Sabeen’s presentation was followed by Rabia Garib’s. Rabia spoke about how to work with the media, how to actually manage them so that they would talk about you, would interview you, would give you the mileage that your organization needs. Her presentation was simple but very interactive. She got participants to give elevator pitches on how they would introduce their companies to a media person, showed them how they could grab the attention of the interviewer so that he/she would be prompted to ask a few more questions instead of moving on to someone else. There were additional tips and tricks on managing the media and getting the most out of them.
The last woman speaker (yes you do see how I conspired to ensure that all the speakers at this workshop were women!) was Salaina Haroon who had some extremely valuable input on how IT companies could use PR cost effectively to market their products and services and build relationships.
The workshop went on for an hour longer than it was supposed to, and people hung around after it was over simply to pick the brains of the Workshop Facilitators. Some people had to leave early so you will not see them in this group photo that was taken as an afterthought.
What came out of the workshop was that there needed to be a more detailed session where we could take a couple of companies as case studies and actually work thorough a branding strategy with them. This would be a good learning exercise for the rest of the companies. The next workshop is expected to be held in Lahore – date to be announced soon.
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