Company Spotlight: The Loop, Naheed Maalik & Rachel Lloyd

Tell us more about what you do?

The Loop is a boutique marketing, communications and PR consultancy based in Dubai. We offer a one-stop solution to help clients ‘close the loop’ on their marcomms requirements, including strategy and planning, content creation, brand, PR and media management, media buying, creative design and copywriting.

Our focus is on providing bespoke solutions that are customised to each of our client’s target audiences, business goals, timelines and budgets. Based on our backgrounds in higher education and non-profit sectors, we have worked with organisations in those fields from our inception in 2018. Since then, we have grown organically into a diverse range of business sectors, from IT, professional services, and fintech, to wellness and environmental sustainability.  

What made you set up The Loop?

After decades as employees and several years working together on in-house marcomms, we’d both come to a natural crossroads in our careers. Reaching that ‘what’s next?’ moment at the same time led us to take the leap into entrepreneurship and tackle a gap in the market that we’d been discussing for some time.

As in-house marketing and communications professionals, we were often looking to outsource various aspects of content development, design and production projects to companies that could understand our brand and house style while delivering on-time, quality, cost-effective services. We wanted to offer that 360 solution without the big budget price tag or the challenges that come with managing multiple freelance suppliers, so we established The Loop.  

How do you help organizations and business leaders?

We help organisations to build their brand through marketing, content creation and PR, to raise awareness of their products and services across their customer base. For new businesses, which have been a good proportion of our client base, this means planning and delivering integrated communications strategies across different platforms that connect them with their target audiences.  

As consumers are increasingly looking beyond the brand image to explore the individuals behind it, we are also working more frequently with business leaders to develop their own profiles.     This involves a range of communications and PR activities that position these professionals as expert commentators and thought leaders in their field.

What has been your biggest company achievement?

Our biggest achievement is getting to where we are today; continual growth, diversification and (mostly) maintaining the work/life balance, all while staying lean as a business. We have worked with over 50 different clients and in sectors that would have been beyond our comfort zone when we started out. We have been able to manage this growth as a partnership; while still maintaining some flexibility in the way we work to accommodate our lives outside The Loop. 

Which client projects have been a success?

We have been working with an innovative start-up that is pioneering an exciting disruption in the fintech market. With this ground-breaking product, which has a fascinating back-story, we have been able to secure PR coverage across a range of platforms through different story angles. These stories have featured in over 40 mainstream, business, and sector-related publications, as well as audio coverage through radio and podcast interviews with the business founder.

Another project is with a business group on return-to-work. It’s a theme that resonates with us and we have worked on a number of features in digital, print and broadcast media as well as events with them, all focussed on getting more women back into the workplace after a family break. The project has also enabled us to connect two of our clients to work together on setting up recruitment and employer readiness mechanisms.

What is the most in demand service you offer right now?

PR strategy development and implementation is the most in-demand service right now. In a competitive market, businesses are constantly looking for ways to stand out, and earned media is still one of the best solutions to build consumer trust.

What results can clients expect from working with you?

Our process starts with a customised plan that is bespoke to the needs of each client, and as such, the results are specific to each plan. Broadly, the outcomes reflect our 30 years combined experience of working in marketing and communications in the UAE, which includes an understanding of the nuances of the media landscape and an extensive network of collaborators in the industry. This means we are able to help clients create the right stories to connect with top-tier publications and provide added-value opportunities to contribute to media-led conversations that can showcase their expertise.  

What trends do you currently seethe MENA region for marketing/PR?

With the proliferation of content and the shrinking of mainstream publications, quality writing and storytelling has become crucial. Our current conversations suggest that this is leading to a countertrend against the initial enthusiasm around generative AI, which it seems is not hitting the mark in those critical B2C interactions. We are seeing those organisations looking for authentic and engaging conversations returning to human-generated content as the best resource to build a genuine, sustainable audience.

In terms of PR themes, the return-to-work agenda is a trending topic among several clients who are acting to engage with under-utilised female talent. Exploring the barriers and creating opportunities for highly skilled but time-restricted women to re-enter the workplace is a timely conversation that could boost future business in the region.

Why is it so important to have a professional PR strategy?

A professional PR strategy brings the right blend of variety, consistency and sustainability to an organisation’s communications with its target audience. There are many pitfalls in working without a strategy; often businesses will do a one-off press release and expect instant results, but brand-building is a long-term process that needs to be sustained over a period of time. Balancing variety and consistency are also key; sharing different aspects of a business’s story across multiple media platforms while retaining the core messaging is something that requires a considered and strategic approach.  

What are your company growth plans/goals for the next 5 years?

One of the unique and highly valued aspect of our business is the personal touch we deliver in our interactions with clients, so our growth plans are focussed on building our client base, over expanding as a team. An exciting part of our journey so far has been diversifying into different industry sectors and working with passionate entrepreneurs to help launch and grow their businesses. Our plan is to continue on this path, to collaborate with new and interesting clients in emerging industries, while staying close to our roots in education and non-profit sectors.

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Editor-In-Chief of Bizpreneur Middle East