PR (public relations) is an essential cornerstone of every business plan. However, most small business owners tend to include advertising and often neglect the PR bit. Small business owners need to realize that though they have tight budgets, they will typically get more for their money when choosing PR over advertising.
When a consumer sees third party coverage of a product or service, it is perceived much differently than a traditional advertisement. When someone sees an advertisement, he / she knows that the company is trying to sell them something. However, when a third party, such as the media, endorses a product or service, the company gains credibility.
Having said that however, only a few PR agencies on the market are usually able to provide the kind of services a small business requires. Mita Srinivasan, the Director of Market Buzz International, realized that there was something amiss when it came to quality of PR and content being supplied by many vendors and partners in the MEA region. This was 13 years ago, when she set off to setup what would become, a successful PR agency.
“Though I was educated in India, I have been living in Dubai since 1989. I come from a family that is quite independent in thought and entrepreneurial in attitude, especially the women,” explains Ms. Srinivasan. “I was always encouraged to pursue whatever I set my mind to. I was working with a technology publishing house managing one of their titles and would regularly see the dismal quality of PR and content being supplied by some of the vendors and partners in the region.”
According to Ms. Srinivasan, especially the ones with smaller or no presence in the Middle East, were the worst of the lot. “Very few agencies in the MEA region understand the needs of the SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) let alone the way the technology industry worked in the region. Based on feedback and requests, I decided that I would set up Market Buzz International to help small tech businesses or indeed large tech companies with small operations in this region, with creating a better PR with the stakeholders in the region beginning with the media,” adds Ms. Srinivasan.
Market Buzz International was set up at the end of 2000, while Ms. Srinivasan was still working for her last job with the magazine publisher. “I had the blessings of the publisher, who was a great support and encouraged me to start with the PR business,” explains Ms. Srinivasan. “The company was registered in 2001 with TECOM when it was first established. I think I was one of the first in 2001 to register my company at the Business Desk and Dubai Media City made it really easy then to set up a business.”
Ms. Srinivasan registered the company, with her last boss becoming a partner in the company – his investment was his time that he spent mentoring Ms. Srinivasan. Ms. Srinivasan rented two desk spaces, hired a young man who was fresh out of college with a marketing degree, to manage the business with Ms. Srinivasan’s guidance.
“Market Buzz International’s services have been helping change the way technology companies portray themselves in the MEA region. We worked with a few start-ups and suddenly PR was affordable for them,” adds Ms. Srinivasan. “In my opinion, start-ups focus so much on just pure marketing and business generation, they forget about establishing a reputation and the value of a well-planned PR strategy.
According to Ms. Srinivasan, Market Buzz International’s unique value is that the company does not think that PR should cost an arm and a leg. The company understands how technology companies work and how small businesses work. “We understand the Middle East and have a healthy respect for the region,” says Mr. Srinivasan. “When we were first setting up the company, we did not come across any major hurdles as such, except dealing with banks. Setting up banking services for small businesses was a big problem for us, because their definition of small business was very different than mine.”
Ms. Srinivasan says that the banks in the region do not acknowledge small businesses because their criteria for ‘registration’ so that her employees may get loans and so on are different. “They do not provide overdraft facilities or credit facilities for really small start-ups. But this is not just start-ups then – it’s just as valid for small businesses today,” explains Ms. Srinivasan. “When it comes to marketing our business and services, we are lucky – since we are in a relatively niche segment, we get business on referral. However, I do use social media quite extensively, network at every opportunity I can get.”
Ms. Srinivasan makes it a point to work with the community in the region. She has also offered her time to help start-ups with tips and guidance on how they can use PR and their own resources. If they can afford it, she has also offered special packages that could ease their way into building a PR plan. “In addition, I have my own ideas of niche areas and have started a couple of projects to piggy-back on Market Buzz. Once they are up and running properly, there are plans to set them up as independent companies,” adds Ms. Srinivasan.
For those starting their own business, Ms. Srinivasan has a few things to share. “Before starting off a business it is worth it to research the idea and be open to criticism. However don’t give up on your dream – make it practical and ensure you get the advice not just of your friends and family but also people in the industry and potential customers. Make sure you always deliver on your promises and never make promises you cannot keep. Also, trust your instincts,” adds Ms. Srinivasan.
To contact Mita Srinivasan about the services her company offers, please use the details below: