I have always been something of a fan of Arab News' Molouk Ba-Isa. Unremittingly grumpy, difficult and highly opinionated, her weekly technology column often informs, interests and generally amuses me. I have worked with her many times over the years and have delivered many a faintly trembling executive into her tender care. I remember one being told, by way of an introduction: "I hope Alexander briefed you about how difficult I am."
Alexander is usually too amused to say much. I've always been a sucker for a misanthrope.
But this week's column is something of a car-crash experience. I don't want to look, but I'm drawn back to it time and time again. It should be required reading for anyone who wants to communicate with Middle East markets. It should be on every international technology PR person's training curriculum. It's linked here and it ain't pretty.
Microsoft doled out a lazy press release on the Xbox 360. Molouk doled out the punishment. To be fair, she could have been a lot worse. But it's worth bearing in mind that this is pretty heavy stuff for a media environment like Saudi Arabia, where it is still rare to encounter a critical tone.
What's interesting to me is that her obvious irritation has been triggered by a thoughtless communication. A little care and this wouldn't have happened at all...