In Conversation with Farzana Baduel

In this exclusive interview with Reputation Today, Farzana Baduel, CEO and co-founder of Curzon PR, shares insights on the power of diversity, inclusion and storytelling in reputation science. 

During her recent India visit for the PRAXIS 2023, Hemant Gaule, Dean of the School of Communications and Reputation got a chance to interview Farzana and derive insights from her experience of illustrious career in PR. 

Hemant Gaule: Curzon PR has a strong global presence. How do you navigate the unique challenges and opportunities of working in diverse cultural contexts?

Farzana Baduel: Our ability to navigate diverse cultures is based on our values of diversity and curiosity. We hire based on our values, and consequently, our team champions diversity and are naturally curious about other cultures. We harness the power of active listening and empathy to enable us to bridge cultural nuances. Our colleagues are from the UK, South Africa, India, Nigeria, Argentina and other countries, so our team thinks globally yet are sensitive to local nuances. 

HG: As an advocate for women in PR, could you share your thoughts on gender diversity in the field and the progress made in recent years?

FB: Women are well represented in terms of numbers in the PR industry. The issues arise with a lack of women in senior positions as well as a gender pay gap which needs to be bridged. Sectoral specialism that attract higher remuneration, such as finance and tech, tends to have less female representation. 

Also, Women tend to have a higher proportion in terms of caring responsibilities for children and ageing parents. As a result, this impacts their ability to network and attend conferences, which can hold opportunities for upskilling. This is a critical part of PR as the comms landscape constantly evolves, hindering them from building relational capital in the industry to land promotions and job opportunities. Covid helped shift the culture to remote working and learning online. However, we are moving away from remote back towards in-person, so women will be disproportionately impacted. 

HG: In your experience, what are the key elements of a successful PR campaign, and can you provide an example of a memorable campaign you’ve been involved in?

FB: Having sufficient time for the research, strategy and planning phases as well as embedding a measurement framework and focus on evaluation based on SMART objectives, ensures the success of a PR campaign. Delivery often takes the lion’s share of resources, and it is critical to take a strategic approach to campaigns focused on real, demonstrable value rather than vanity metrics. 

Over a decade ago, we worked with the Ukrainian government on nation branding and soft power. We focused on championing Ukrainian artists to share their work on the global stage. Art is a powerful gateway which unlocks tourism, trade and investment for forward-thinking governments. 

HG: You’ve mentioned that storytelling is at the heart of PR. How do you approach crafting compelling narratives for your clients?

FB: The field of story science is fascinating. We share our love of storytelling by immersing ourselves in adjacent storytelling disciplines like art, film and literature. Understanding fundamentals such as Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey and brand archetypes helps us craft engaging narratives that are ultimately rooted in authenticity.

HG: Crisis management is a critical aspect of PR. Can you share insights on how Curzon PR handles crises effectively?

FB: We focus on working with clients before a crisis- the calm before the storm. We deliver risk audits, understand reputational vulnerabilities, monitor issues, and ensure contingency plans are in place and practised regularly with a cross-function team set up to respond.

HG: How do you balance your role as a CEO, entrepreneur, and advocate for social causes? What advice do you have for individuals seeking to excel in multiple areas of their careers?

FB: I always follow my enthusiasm – as the positive energy gives me the drive to juggle Curzon and my charity work. I also believe in humility – most of our success is down to our unique set of privileges, and we should do more to help others. 

The responses above are from Farzana Baduel as shared with Reputation Today

Hemant Gaule
Hemant is an education leader based in Mumbai, India, and is passionate about education, policy, and media. After graduating from the Indian Institute of Management -Ahmedabad, he has counselled several private, social, political & government initiatives. He was a Co-founder & Director of Citizens of Accountable Governance, a team that spearheaded the national election campaign of India’s current Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi in 2014. After that, he has Co-founded (and is Dean of) India’s only institute dedicated to education and research in public relations – School of Communications & Reputation. In 2019 he became the first Indian to be conferred as a Fellow Accredited Public Relations Practitioners by ASEAN PR Network. In 2022, he was named among 40 Young Turks of India by Reputation Today Magazine. He can be reached at @HemantGaule on Twitter.

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