Lisa George is recognised by the PR Week in their ‘Global Powerbook 2016’ list of achievers in the PR industry. Currently, she heads an award winning PR agency in the Middle East Iris PR.
With more than 12 years experience in the MENA region in implementing strategic PR programmes to strengthen corporate reputation, increase shareholder value and accelerate business growth, Lisa has effectively developed and managed traditional and social media campaigns for thought-leadership initiatives in media and community relations.
Over the years Lisa have provided strategic PR counsel for multi-national and regional clients from technology, corporate, consumer, finance and healthcare sectors. Few of the names include Epson, BMW Group Middle East,Meltwater, Panasonic, Qatar Airways, IMD Business School,Boston Consulting Group, Wharton, Alshaya Group (Debenhams, Topshop, Next, Mothercare,Boots), Union Bancaire Privee, Pure Gold Jewellers, Belhasa Projects, ThyssenKrupp and others.
Tell us about your business. What exactly does your business do?
We are a full service PR agency serving the MENA region. We are based in Dubai and we are a partner of IPREX (www.iprex.com) global network of PR agencies. We offer all PR related services in addition to digital and events PR
How did you start this business?
I started this business on my own with the money I saved working in the UAE.I had no other financial support, and being a single expatriate, not much emotional support either. It was the end of 2009 when many businesses were closing down or not doing well, and people told me it was not the best time to start a business. I believe that you will never really find the perfect moment to do anything, life is never perfect. If you really feel the push to do something, go ahead and do it, work hard and things will fall into place and if you have faith in the power that guides you, that’s all the emotional strength you need.
I went to RAK Media City, paid the dues and next day I had a license. It was pretty easy those days.
The next step was to set up a website, step up my Linkedin profile, get in touch with companies who were looking for a ‘one man’ show as my rates were competitive, considering I had no overheads.
Within a few months I took up a space at a business centre and the receptionist took care of my calls and admin work.
Initially the jobs I obtained were one off projects through my own contacts. Once, people started seeing the quality of work, I started getting retainers and more projects which helped me to build up a strong portfolio. I then moved my license to DMCC, rented an office and hired employees. We now win most of our clients through competitive pitches.
What was the hardest moment during those early years?
The hardest moment was going it alone, waking up in the morning and not having any colleagues to work. Once the business took off, the next challenge was hiring and training people which was not something I was very experienced with. Running my own business made me realize the importance of hiring people for attitude rather than just experience or skills. When you are a start-up, you need people who share your vision and enthusiasm as we may not have all the privileges of a big company.
How did you overcome your challenges and difficulties in the business?
You just learn along the way and develop new skills and attitude to take up new responsibilities
WHY did you go into this line of business in UAE? Why UAE?
I have always been in PR right since completing my education. UAE is a great place to start a business, I never faced any issues of red tape or delays and the whole process has been very smooth.
Who has been your greatest influence that inspired you in setting up this venture?
I always had a vision of starting my own business one day. I did not have a mentor, I just decided to do what I wanted.
What are your future plans for the business?
We are not very concerned with being the largest, size does not matter. We are more focused on delivering quality service. I want to work with clients who appreciate the value of PR and with whom we can enjoy a good working relationship.PR is a team work between the client and agency and therefore it is important to have the same wavelength.
We recently won an award by UK based TMT Media for the Best Technology PR company in the MENA region. PR Week also listed me in their Global Powerbook 2016 of achievers in the PR industry.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs when setting up their business?
Have a business plan, keep a keen eye on cash inflow and outflow and do not invest in resources you do not need. Keep your overheads low and rely on organic growth.
Tel: +9714 4341207. Mobile: +97155 107 8561.
By Cristina Magallon
LinkedIn: Cristina Magallon
Company Page: UAE DNA