Nayrouz is the owner and managing director of Ego Communicate, an integrated PR and media agency based in Egypt. With a passion for communication and entrepreneurship, she has a wealth of experience in publishing, music production, TV, and event organising that has brought her to where she is today.
You have gained a lot of experience in the PR field, what do you think are some of the most valuable things you have learned?
Reputation is key. Without it, no skill will ever matter. So always stay true to yourself and the people you work with.
What were some of the unexpected challenges you found while making a name for yourself in your fields?
There are two types of market presence; either you’re popular and people work with you because of that, or you are good at what you do and people eventually acknowledge your efforts. I prefer the latter, and ironically it has been one of our main challenges in this market. Overcoming hype with real results is no easy endeavour in a market that relies mainly on “likes,” “followers,” and “shares.” Overall, this is gradually changing though.
Working in PR, have you ever found yourself not taken seriously as a woman? Do you ever find clients are intimidated dealing with strong woman?
I think gender has never really affected my business; if anything, being a woman today is an advantage. I’ve been running my own business since the age of 24, and I have come to realise that people will relate always to transparency rather than gender. If you’re honest about what you do and say, then it’s impossible to intimidate the right people.
Are there any advantages to being a woman in this field?
Plenty. Women by default are more image-oriented, patient, and have a penchant for details. In PR these are all very important factors. You can’t represent a luxury brand, for example, if you yourself don’t understand luxury.
Most importantly, women’s maternal instincts add an inevitable value to brand building. Treating a brand like a ‘baby’ and nurturing it over the years can have a powerful impact on your business. Statistically, companies that recruit more women than men possess a much higher probability of success. Need I say more?
What do you think it takes to be a successful business woman in Egypt today?
A successful business woman or man must be both skilful and ‘street savvy.’ I think being too academic about business in Egypt may not necessarily help in achieving targets. In fact, it seems that success comes with finding a good balance between professionalism and a little bit of good old politics. One needs to know how to strategically work his/her network and resources.
Do you think the workplace is becoming more welcoming to having women in lead roles? Why do you think or not think this is?
For as long as I remember; women have been capable of impactful leadership; it’s in every history book. Not because societal evolution has had it’s hiccups, does that mean that women can’t do anything they put their mind to. Leadership is a matter of fact, not a title given by someone. And most importantly, it’s gender-less.
What are some of the differences between working in PR when you started and working in PR now? What should someone who is hoping to get into the field know?
When we first started PR, press was a very important channel for brand communication. Print media and PR events were the most important criteria for a good brand portfolio. I find that today there’s a heightened focus on ‘online influence’- which in theory is not a bad thing, given that you also understand its limitations.
This is why my core advice is to accept market evolution with an open mind but to also have a stance with regards to what really is influential and what isn’t. Good PR is a result of hard work, so let’s not treat it as a ‘trending topic’.
Your work focuses a lot on print and PR, and not digital, which is an interesting choice given the prevalence of internet and social media in our world today. Why is this?
I use digital, and I appreciate it’s importance. EgoComm has a whole department dedicated to digital exercises, advertising and social media monitoring. Then again, I come from a print background and I do have a lot of respect for our fellow journalists and publishers who work hard to deliver quality news and articles. Media aside, I also believe in the power of “word of mouth’; good PR always results in real feedback as opposed to temporary hype.
The bottom line is EgoComm’s focus is distributed across different communication channels. After all digital is a means of communication and not “communication” itself. If I rely on digital alone, then I’m missing the point. Not everyone is online all the time, not everyone trusts the internet; so how is it possible to run a successful PR firm, using JUST digital?
The fields you are in are very demanding and time-consuming around the clock, what do you do to separate your professional life from your personal life? Do you have any advice for other busy women in the workforce?
Hire a good team. Trust me, this is not easy. The search for good calibre is the hardest part, but once you find the right candidates, time management becomes a piece of cake. I won’t lie to you, though, I do have many moments where I am incapable of balancing work and family. The good news is that I have a husband that understands and respects my ambitions, and has helped me plenty over the past years.
You have had a wide variety of experiences in your professional life, is your role with Ego your final stop or is there another field you would like to experience?
Very true. I’ve tried everything in the past 15 years. From publishing, to TV, to music production to even running venues and event organising. I think my passion is communication, and more specifically broadcast media. There are a few things in the pipeline, that may transition my business to something bigger and better. Isn’t that the dream of any entrepreneur?