Activating IT brands

April 25, 2009 at 8:27 am 15 comments

sabeen_addressing_participantsFor 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 starteserious_bunchd 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 athappy_bunch 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 manageja_looking_smug 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.

group-photo_brandThe 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.

Entry filed under: Posts.

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15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Activating IT brands / LiveFromPakistan  |  April 25, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Activating IT brands…

  • 2. Arsalaan Haleem  |  April 25, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Jehan Ara, I am unable to view both of the powerpoint presentations, even after downloading onto my PC.

    Can you please email me the 1997-2003 version after converting them at your end? Will really appreciate it.

    Email them at


  • 3. Activating IT brands | Tea Break  |  April 25, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    […] This cup of tea was served by: In the Line of Wire […]

  • 4. Jehan  |  April 25, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    @Arsalan I have changed the version of the two powerpoint presentations so that you and all those who are still using the old version of MS Powerpoint, can view it. Thanks for dropping by.

  • 5. Ali  |  April 26, 2009 at 12:48 am

    Sad over missing this event, but glad to find these presentations. Thanks for sharing them.

  • 6. Umair Mohsin  |  April 26, 2009 at 2:36 am

    …“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!”….

    I don’t know which agency he was working with, but it probably wasn’t a good one… There is a difference between working with an agency charging Rs. 2 Million and one charging Rs. 2000.

    I’ve personally worked with Si3, CyberNet, Transworld, Worldcall and more and usually I’ve been explaining to clients why what they’re saying doesn’t make sense…(mostly those guys go into geek-speak).

    If you want a company that understands Digital, write to me:

  • 7. Vic  |  April 26, 2009 at 7:20 am

    Why not upload the presentations to Google Docs and publish them, so that the people who could not attend the session, for whatever reason, can still learn from them?

  • 8. Arsalaan Haleem  |  April 26, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Thanks you so much Jehan Ara….can read them now. Thanks again 🙂

  • 9. rabia garib  |  April 26, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    @Umair – So umm.. if I want a company that DOES digital, I shouldn’t be calling you? The companies you’ve named makes me wondering if you should be held accountable or in contempt.. But perhaps another day.. maybe on Wednesday..

  • 10. Obaid Ahmed  |  April 27, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    I have a request.. i might be wrong.. but was there an advertisement for this event anywhere online? It would be great to get a heads up notice for such events so we can attend..

    maybe i am missing something.. ?

  • 11. Jehan  |  April 27, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    @Obaid reasonable question. No there was no ad. We had a capacity for 20 people so we decided to send the mailing regarding the event to P@SHA members only. Hey come on, members do have a right, don’t they?

    Usually we open it up to everyone with special rates for members and students but this time we were unable to.

    BTW are you in town? Where and for how long? Must meet up.

  • 12. Obaid Ahmed  |  April 27, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Yes the members do have the right to exclusive events 🙂

    I am not in town right now but inshaAllah will be there later on this year.

  • 13. Sawant Shah  |  May 1, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Would have been really helpful to attend this event. It would have certainly helped us channelize our energies in the proper direction with regard to yellO. Nonetheless, the presentations were certainly helpful. Thank you.

    Also, may be you can carry out this event on a broader scale, for a wider set of (IT) audiences than just the members, as lack of “brand activation” knowledge hampers our IT companies from reaching the next level.

  • 14. Umair Mohsin  |  May 6, 2009 at 2:15 pm


    Would it help if i also write that I’ve worked in the digital domain with IFFCO Dubai and MyLondonDiary UK as well.

    And that I also have experience creating a Rs. 1 BN brand in our market – Mayfair, whilst working with Unilever, P&G’s, Coke, Nestle, ICI, etc.

    Or Would it help to mention that my ICI campaign won a UK Creative Award.

    Let me know what might help. 🙂

  • 15. Umair Mohsin  |  May 6, 2009 at 10:09 pm


    I think the confusion (which is my fault) was created by my use of the word ‘WORK’. Let me revise it to ‘Pitch’. I pitched for the work for these companies. Had they listened to what I was saying, you wouldn’t have made the comment you did. 🙂

    IT Firms in Pakistan are sadly caught up in their own zones, thinking they know more than agencies / creatives who’ve done this thing far more for far longer than the Industry itself has existed.

    It will take more firms like ours (Tuesday) to be the mediators between technology & marketing and take the industry forward.

    Pls do know, the IT Industry is around 150BN Dollars in USA. Advertising is $640 BN. The next phase of growth in IT is not going to be because of software… that i assure you.


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