Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Happy Birthday "SITME"

One of the more satisfying initiatives that I was involved with in the latter part of my Shell career was the launch and management of the magazine “Shell in the Middle East”, popularly known internally as “SITME”. The intention of the magazine was to promote Shell in the Middle East and we put together a substantial mailing list of recipients across the region including not just the top decision makers but also those in influential executive positions in the public and private sector. The magazine was published in separate English and Arabic editions and it had a clear editorial philosophy. This philosophy was to let our partners, customers and other external stakeholders speak for us in the articles of the magazine – not to use it as just as an opportunity to boast about ourselves! The logic was that in an increasingly “Show me” world we would be more believable if we ensured that it was those who knew us who spoke about us. This seemed to work well and the magazine, under the skilled editorship of Bobby Schuck and his wife Sue (both highly experienced and skilled journalists) the magazine went from strength to strength – it has just celebrated its tenth anniversary and 40th edition.

SITME was deliberately different not only from other more overtly PR style magazines elsewhere in Shell but also from anything that the Middle East region had ever seen before (or since). The dead hand of corporatism was kept away from SITME and I and later Managing Editors were able to pursue a style and agenda that was distinctive and appropriately designed for its task. I hope that SITME will continue to flourish in a Shell world that is increasingly dirigiste and centralised and that its uniqueness will continue to be valued. Happy Birthday SITME!