Šukran (thank you), Sharjah Government Media Bureau!

Last month I had the privilege of being invited by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau’s  International Government Communication Centre (IGCC) to train government communications professionals in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Just like in most growing economies, digital citizen behaviours and expectations are changing at a rapid pace while the government attempts to keep up.

As always is the case with my international training clients, I learned quite a bit myself from the group regarding cultural and regional differences in the use of digital communication channels / social media and how they are used by various public sector organizations. I found the role of the Bureau itself particularly interesting:

The Sharjah Government Media Bureau is the speaker and listener on behalf of Sharjah on the local, regional and international media landscapes.

Established under the direction, guidance, and patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, it is the official conduit responsible for all media and communication activities related to Sharjah’s governing bodies and the emirate as a whole.

An independent body, Sharjah Government Media Bureau empowers government communication and encourages the communication of uniform messages. It adopts a mature and responsible strategy inspired by the wisdom of His Highness, the Ruler of Sharjah, which is consistent with the UAE’s federal media policy and regulations, and adherent to the Emirate’s authentic culture.

The ultimate function of the SGMB is to highlight the emirate’s ongoing progress and development as the region’s media and cultural hub. To achieve this end, SGMB facilitates a dialogue for and with Sharjah’s government institutions and the media to elevate Sharjah’s status among the Arab and international media. In doing so, SGMB provides a meeting point for media professionals to network with senior decision-makers in Sharjah and exchange valuable views on topical issues.

Essentially, what you have here is the implementation arm of a central brand strategy developed for the Emirate of Sharjah. The core positioning of Sharjah relative to the other seven Emirates is to be known as the “media and cultural hub” of the UAE. My training participants came from various government organizations in Sharjah to learn more about how they can better communicate their own value and engage with audiences online while still adhering to the central overarching Sharjah brand framework.

We talked about everything from building online service standards and the latest social content trends to new forms of business intelligence gathering through social network analysis of key topic areas covered by each organization. I then guided participants through a strategic framework to help them better define their goals,  identify audience influencers, come up with realistic strategies, and roll out tactical engagement based on organizational priority level and risk tolerance.  Here is some media coverage of the event.

Overall, it was an incredible experience and I hope to be back in Sharjah again soon. Šukran!

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