Inspired by a discussion I had today with a potential client, I will attempt to answer this question. But before I outline my reasons, let me be clear on one thing: While I do believe that PR agencies in the GCC region are better off using a professional Arabic content and translation provider, I am aware that the Arabic content sector is still underdeveloped, and some self-proclaimed providers can easily convince anyone this option is not sustainable. Please refer to my other posts on the current situation in our sector and what is needed to improve it.
Back to the subject in hand: Why is it better for PR agencies in the GCC region to use the services of a professional Arabic content and translation provider?
Gone are the times where PR agencies specialize in one or two domains. Today, the same agency that handles, say, a consumer electronics giant, also handles a family-owned large corporation, a fashion brand, and a government agency. A common misconception is that a good translator is good in every domain. This is clearly not the case, and agencies clearly cannot hire one translator or content specialist per domain. A successful professional provider has and maintains experienced specialty teams.
If you are an Arabic speaking PR specialist in, Dubai, you will know what I mean. The burden of translation and Arabic content falls on you more often than not, even if you made your way up to account director level. But can you and your colleagues always be available? And if you can meet your agencies needs today, what will happen when you win the next account? A successful professional provider is scalable.
One important thing that intrigues our clients is that we are available 24/7. Send us a request a 11 PM on a weekend day, and our account manager on duty will respond within 30 minutes. An in-house team cannot do this, unless of course the agency is willing to pay large sums on overtime.
If you have an in-house team, then it is on you to perform quality assurance. Moreover, you only have this much choice if the client does not like the style of your own team member (Arabic content is highly subjective and poorly standardized). In our experience, the same translator whose work was highly acclaimed by a very important government agency was rejected by a large consumer electronics brand. What we did? We simply shifted the account to another team, and voila! This is not feasible for in-house teams.
Another important point is that a professional provider conducts training, feedback sessions, and continuous improvement activities, something that you do not always have time for in-house.
At AL Arabic, it happens quite often that a certain brand moves from one client PR agency to another, so it is still us who do their Arabic content and translation. Imagine not having to start from scratch and do the analysis and research phase. Moreover, experience from similar brands can be put at the service of yours.
Another important point is that if your in-house translator decides to leave for any reason, your next hire will have to start from scratch. With professional providers, experience is retained and success stories are replicated.
This could be the most appealing part for PR agencies. With professional providers, you pay for what you get. In slow seasons, you pay significantly less, and in high seasons you do not have to hire temps. You also save on visas, health insurance, and cost of substitutes during annual leaves.
Putting professional teams with all their experience at your service is by definition the mandate of your provider. It is our promise, and the value we add to your processes and business in general, something that our current clients would be happy to testify.
Dr. Ali Mohamad is the Managing Director of AL Arabic