She launched Z7 Communications with a team of two, about twelve years ago, but now they are an agency of more than 40 employees. Zeina El-Dana, Founder and CEO of Z7 Communications talks to Communicate about the significance of investing in the company’s employees to be able to grow “without compromising on the exceptional standards.”
In the interview, she outlines the importance of diversifying the company’s skillsets and services to be able to always offer innovative and creative solutions to luxury brands.
Can you describe for us how the media landscape has changed since you began in 2007?
We live in a market that is ever-evolving. However, this is a region that has high aspirations. When I launched Z7 Communications 12 years ago, the media pool was much smaller – we had fewer titles than we have today, and of course the focus then relied heavily on print news. The biggest change we have seen over the last few years is the move to digital. With more and more consumers living online, the market has developed quickly to adapt, and we are now seeing some incredibly creative and sophisticated content being produced here, especially in the luxury sector. This shift to digital has led to us growing our digital division and we now offer social media platform management and consultancy alongside content creation.
As the media landscape has changed over the last few years, so has the luxury industry. Partnerships with similar non-competitive brands is becoming more and more of a focus. The idea of personalization is very important to many brands and luxury consumers and I believe this will continue to develop. As brands continue to shift their focus digitally, other areas that are really exciting is Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence and seeing how luxury brands are engaging with these platforms.
There are a lot of exciting opportunities in terms of how brands can show their worth and bring to life their experiences. I believe this area will change the way people shop. Instagram’s Shoppable Posts offering has recently expanded to over 46 countries. I think both luxury and high street brands are investing in this concept and I am excited to see how we can use this asset in digital planning and ideation for our clients.
What should luxury brands focus on when communicating to the public?
Although each brand is unique in their approach, there are two important aspects to keep in mind when communicating to the public – know your audience and know your platform. Audiences today are quite self-aware; they know what they are looking for from brands and they engage with brands that resonate with them. Expectations are high to have a deep understanding of how they think and behave. Be culturally aware and sensitive, as well, to avoid alienating audiences.
It is also vital to know where your audience is communicating most. Content can be incredibly powerful, and what works in a magazine won’t have the same impact online. Use your platform to your advantage and be creative with your communication.
As a communicator for luxury brands, how do you manage the talent gap that is currently available in the market?
One of the challenges facing the premium luxury sector globally and within the MENA region is the lack of specific talent and skills sets to meet the demands of increasingly innovative companies. Campaigns and activations need to meet global standards. The importance of investing in employees and growing team members from within the company is vital. We at Z7 Communications offer incentives and invest in trainings to ensure our in-house talent is the best; we have a strong structure with clear routes for progression.
New roles and skillsets need to be the focus for new hires, as service expectations continue to increase from brands. We often look to key emerging, trend-setting markets for global hires – more and more we are finding key PR hires who boast amazing skillsets outside of traditional PR, such as content creation, copywriting and designing. We then work with them to nurture these passions further.