2016-07-01

If Magazine Covers Were Honest


I almost never buy any magazines, aside from the Smash Hits & Photos magazines I bought as a teenager, my only encounters with magazines are at doctors' clinics and when they run TV ads citing their headlines. This has not stopped me from being highly admirative of the amount of bullshit that these magazines can dish out, especially in their titles a.k.a the ancestors of clickbait.

I conceived this cover a couple of days ago as an attempt at satire, based on first-hand experienc with the topics I chose to highlight. Many people picked-up on the gest of it but others were not on the same frequency and asked me to explain. So here goes nothing:

Mashrou' Leila: This highly overrated and barely audible Lebanese band rose to international fame by using the openly gay card of their lead singer, thus creating controversy in a region not receptive to such a public declaration. Their die hard fans usually accuse their critics of being homophobic to suppress the fact that their sound closely resembles that of a squeaking door.

Facebook Posts: In these tumultuous times that we live in, where the world seems to implode on itself, with a war raging next door, refugees flooding the country and other continents, and a general malaise swarming up globally, one cannot escape the numerous "humanitarian" status updates by individuals who claim to support or defend a good cause but who in fact use a passive-aggressive approach to advance their political views at the expense of those who are actually suffering.

Freebies: I don't need to explain this much, as it's become public knowledge the amount of bloggers who just echo promo material offered by brands or agencies. Some of them still hide behind their finger (ironically so), others are just outright shameless about it. Of course it's fine if a blogger monetizes their presence, just make sure you still offer valuable content not just act as a billboard, because we're on to you...yes, you...you know who you are!

Brexit Nightlife: That's basically putting a buzzword which is trending now (Brexit) with another buzzword which seems the only thing going for us in Lebanon since the end of the civil war. Who would not want to know more how a Brexit is going to help the Lebanese nightlife? Woohoo Lebanese F***ing Joie de Vivre baby!

So folks, scurry along now and don't forget to pick up your edition before it runs out...it's selling like hotcakes!


Links to the original posts:



2016-04-29

Social Media Workshop with Rotary Club of Metn Gate, in Support of Sesobel

Sesobel is a Lebanese NGO founded in 1976 acting as a Social Service for the Welfare of Lebanese Children. Their work is highly known and very few are the chances for someone living in Lebanon to have not heard of them yet. Rotary Clubs a,k.a Lions Club are an international organization known for its clubs which usually attract people from different walks of life and expertise who are usually organized as chapters that work towards addressing and improving many social issues while upholding ethical behavior.

When a Lions Club is organizing workshops and courses in order to support an association like Sesobel, no matter how busy you are, you tend to say  "I'll be there". That's what happened when a friend of mine reached out and proposed I become part of this effort, organized by the Rotary Club of Metn Gate.



So on May 2nd, 4th, 9th and 11th, I will be facilitating 4 sessions of 3 hours each discussing various aspects of social media.

Our plan is to cover the following points:



  • May 2nd:
  • Introduction on Social Media
  • Business Value of Social 
  • Choosing Your Medium
  • Building Your Team
  • Dos & Dont's
  • May 4th:
  • Facebook Intro
  • Business vs Personal Pages
  • Advertising on Facebook
  • Hands on exercise: Launching a Page
  • May 9th:
  • Twitter Intro
  • Best Practices & Examples
  • Tools & Useful Sites
  • Hands-on Exercise: Launching a Twitter Account
  • May 11th:
  • Overview on Instagram
  • Overview on Snapchat
  • Overview on Pinterest
  • Social Media Crisis Management
  • Putting it all Together

But those of you who know me or have attended any of my workshops, know it's never a clean cut syllabus but more of an explorative journey where we dive into the subject and navigate it based on the audience's feedback and interaction.

If you are interested in my workshop or any of the other workshops offered by other distinguished professionals, I strongly urge you to subscribe on the following link a.s.a.p. You would be gaining valuable insights and also giving back to those in need of assistance via Sesobel.

For additional information and registration.


2016-04-25

From Crisis Communication to Roman Ruins: Euromed PPRD Workshop in Jordan

My long experience in facilitating courses and workshops has taught me that no two audiences are alike, much less when you are moving into an entirely new country and culture.
The EUROMED PPRD SOUTH II program landed this past week in Jordan. A country rich in history tradition, sunshine but most of all in warmth from its people. As a Lebanese, I can assert that there is a special bond that always connects us Levantines with each other. We have shared history, geography, climate, traditions, family ties not to mention woes and troubles.
Jordan has always been one of the most welcoming places I have visited and I was extremely enthusiastic to be back there again, this time with the PPRD team.
In case you have not caught wind of what our workshops are about, they are part of a bigger effort to prepare mediterranean countries to face crisis and disasters. Our team addresses Communication in times of Crisis more specifically and helps countries create the awareness needed to build their communication teams and apply the right communication strategy for those difficult times.

The audience in Amman was similar in structure to what we had noticed in Beirut, in the sense that attendance extended beyond the Civil Defense forces to include members of various ministries and official bodies. We did however have members of the (official) press present with us like in Algiers.

Excellent Workshop with my Colleagues Laurent Vibert & Veronique Ruggirello


The Jordanian hosts' enthusiasm for the learning process was no less than their counterparts in previous workshops. Although hesitant at first, and not sure what to expect  from this workshop, they quickly got into the motion, with some taking-on leading roles among the group in various exercises, such as the simulated TV interview or the Social Media Crisis simulation.

The Civil Defense members extended their hospitality further by offering us an amazing trip into the ancient but well preserved ruins of Jarash, located roughly 45 minutes north of the capital. This trip was extremely exciting for me personally, as I am a big fan of historical sites. My previous shorter visits to the country had not left me enough time to go admire such beautiful pieces of history.

In our free time, we also managed to uncover beautiful parts of a city that is friendly, safe, vibrant and with a great potential for more achievements.
We left hoping that our visit helped bring valuable insights to the brave men and women of the civil defense and other public protection services with whom we managed to build friendship and camaraderie ties.

As for me, I can only say one thing: See you soon Jordan!!




2016-04-10

Algeria: Leading by Example in Civil Protection

Within the series of seminars and workshops, part of the EUROMED PPRD SOUTH II program. Funded by the European Union, and after a previous stop in Beirut, we headed for the Algerian capital where the Civil Protection Communication Team was eagerly waiting to be part of this global endeavor to empower similar public bodies in Crisis Communication.

On a personal level, this was my first trip to Algiers, a place not to be missed. The city rich in history, architecture and cultural diversity is impressive to say the least. The welcome we received by our hosts was beyond compare, even in my home country Lebanon where we usually take pride in how we receive travelers and guests.
I am here inclined to start thanking people by name but that would simply mean I would be either leaving someone out or just having a blog post consisting mostly of names of fine people who put their lives daily on the line to save others, so I will just throw out a big thank you to everyone involved in making our stay a memorable one.

In terms of work done, the attendees came from various units within the Algerian Civil Protection located in different parts of the country. We were also graced by the presence of local public and private media institutions representatives.
I have always been a fan of having more varied profiles in workshops and courses I have facilitated over the years. This was definitely the case, as different backgrounds joined in to deliver more insights into our discussions, to allow a more comprehensive approach to hands-on exercises and to keep the conversation alive from different perspectives.

Our workshop which focuses on a 360 approach to communication in times of crisis, took off with the usual theoretical approach to the subject on day 1 followed by a custom conceived crisis scenario mimicking a potential incident that could happen in the country.
The hands-on approach lasted for the remaining 3 days tackling respectively communication with the written press, TV and Radio interviews and culminated in the digital and social media communication part where we discussed the various strategies and tactics alongside the tools that can be used.
Each phase of the work saw the attendees investing themselves fully in role playing and tackling the hard interview questions or the snappy tweets and comments in an extremely professional way.
If something stood out most from this workshop, it was the team spirit with which everyone was working. Boundaries between the media and the civil protection members dissolved quickly and they were each bringing their own expertise to the mix.


This has been one of the most fruitful workshops we have facilitated during the whole program. There is no greater reward for a facilitator than to see that the information is flowing in a productive way and seeing that one's recommendations are being followed.

Algeria, it has been both a pleasure and privilege to have met the brave people that go beyond the call of duty in protecting the public. Here's to continued success!


Next on our agenda is Jordan, where we will be conducting a workshop in Amman on the 18th of April.

I leave you with some photos I snapped from our day out in Algiers with the Civil Protection teams


An amazing day out in Algiers with the awesome members of the Algerian Civil Protection members, discovering the city and their impressive headquarters.

2016-02-28

Empowering Crisis Communication through Workshops

For slightly more than a year, I have been actively involved in a series of seminars and workshops as part of the EUROMED PPRD SOUTH II program. Funded by the European Union, the program aims to increase Prevention, Preparedness and Response to natural and manmade Disasters.
One of the cornerstones of this effort resides in managing communication in times of crisis. For this purpose, we have been enabling public sector entities across the southern mediterranean with the know-how to implement an effective communication strategy, with the right mix of written, audio-visual and digital elements.
Workshops that initially received participants from multiple countries, allowed cross cultural barriers to be taken down and gave insights on how each country would communicate during a crisis, giving a much clearer image on what needed to be done on the national level.

Earlier this week, we embarked with the national workshops: a more focused "on steroids" version of the introductory workshops. The target is for national authorities to designate representatives of various entities that would be playing a key role in a smooth communication in times of crisis.

Beirut was the first to benefit from this, and I was thrilled to have kicked off this effort in my home city that, I believe, stands to benefit the most in these difficult times we are facing.
Further workshops are planned in the coming months in both Algeria and Jordan.

The Beirut workshop, held at the Grand Serial under the auspices of Lebanon's Prime Minister's Office, grouped members of rescue services, security forces, public ministries and official press agency.
Spanning over 4 days, we were able to introduce attendees to the general basis of communication, print media, radio, TV interviews, press conference and , most importantly, the proper use of digital tools and social media channels.



Initially met with resistance from some of the attendees, who deemed themselves to be already well versed in these disciplines, we were glad to later discover a cohesive group of individuals who invested themselves in each simulation. Q&As were elaborate and diverse and the audience emphasised at the end of the workshop the skills they acquired, wishing there had been more time to dwell on topics even longer.
There can be no greater satisfaction for a group of facilitators than to see that the message they have tried to deliver was well received. This group of attendees was exceptionally committed to learning and applying what they had learned in terms of crisis communication management.
While I hope they will never be faced with a crisis big enough to require them to all gather again to address it, I am twice thrilled, as a speaker and as a citizen, to see such a commitment from the public sector into issues of national importance.

Experts Team
I share the credit for this success with the fine people from Civi.Pol Conseil, the organizers at the Prime Minister's Office: Veronique Azar, Nathalie Zaarour and other staff, and my excellent expert colleagues: Veronique Ruggirello (Kalimat Communication) , Laurent Vibert (Nitidis) and Cherine Yazbeck (Reporter at France 24)
Our team of experts is currently working on a Communication Workshop tailored for the private sector. If you are looking to empower your teams with the help of multinational experts, feel free to reach out to me on patrick.chemali@sharplemon.com or to any of my colleagues and we will gladly work with you to address your needs.