Interview with Farzana Baduel, Founder of Curzon PR

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Farzana Baduel, Founder and Managing Director, Curzon PR
Farzana Baduel, Founder and Managing Director, Curzon PR

Last year was quite a year for you Farzana – an award winning media personality, how does that make you feel?
2015 was a great year! It makes me feel very honoured to be doing what I love and being recognised for it is a huge bonus.

To put last year into perspective, it underlines that hard work, passion and determination pays off.

Where did the idea of launching a PR firm, Curzon PR come about?
I learnt about communications from my role as Vice Chair of Conservative Business Relations in The Conservative Party and was fascinated with perception audits, key messaging and raising awareness of issues.

I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit instilled in me; therefore starting a PR firm was a natural progression.

What makes Curzon PR stand out from the clutter of PR agencies in the UK market?
Curzon PR is global with a focus on emerging and frontier markets which is a great advantage for clients who want a global campaign.

Curzon is also results orientated and commercially astute, something that I place a high importance in due to my background in finance. Research led strategies underpin our campaigns which make us stand out.

[quote]The challenges of setting up a globally recognisable PR agency were the usual challenges faced by any entrepreneur, irrespective of race or gender.[end_quote]

Tell us about the portfolio of clients Curzon PR looks after?
Our clients have ranged from government projects for Russia, Japan, South Korea, Canada and Malaysia to listed global corporations in the US, UK & India such as DLF, India�۪s largest commercial real estate developer. Consumer brands include Good Earth, India�۪s leading design house and Missoni, legendary high-end Italian fashion house.

As an independent Asian woman, have you found it a challenge to set-up a world recognised PR agency?
The challenges of setting up a globally recognisable PR agency were the usual challenges faced by any entrepreneur, irrespective of race or gender. Attracting and retaining talented staff, working across time zones and cultures and building and maintaining quality in our processes and delivery to our clients are the biggest challenges.

Without sounding clich̩, do you think women like yourself are breaking away the stereotypes for Asian women in the media?
I think we are breaking stereotypes especially as a Muslim woman. There is such a negative narrative in the media around Muslims and their attitude towards women in the media at present.

I have always had women entrepreneurs as role models growing up in my family living both in the UK and Pakistan. My mother was an entrepreneur and my aunts too. I was always reminded growing up that the prophet’s first wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid was not only a prominent business woman but also employed the prophet, and proposed to him!

[quote]When a person follows a brand on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram they are actively engaged with the brand.[end_quote]

What has been your biggest achievement to date?
My daughter – when I look at her I see utter perfection and burst with uncontrolled maternal pride!

How important do you think it is for brands to hire companies like Curzon PR in the age of self-promotion via social networking sites?
Brands are now investing in social media like never before, resulting in a new era of PR and journalism. Social media posts enable instantaneous interaction between a brand and its audience, therefore it�۪s crucial that time and money is spent to ensure the person or company behind your social networking platforms is reactive, diligent and has experience.

Additionally, permission marketing is a term used to describe a self-subscribed audience. When a person follows a brand on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram they are actively engaged with the brand. Companies like Curzon PR obtain this insight which could be invaluable to clients in relation to their strategic goals.

We place importance in our awareness of brand journalism and how companies need to now follow suit from huge corporations who choose to supply a constant stream of messaging on a number of advertising and communication channels. These channels include social media, media publications and direct marketing, and results in a strengthening of the brand making sure a clear and concise message is conveyed to a new or existing target audience.

I believe it is clear that as a PR firm we can work with social networking to reach audiences in new ways that weren’t possible before the online social boom.

What do you think is Curzon PR’s biggest strength?
Trust. We are trusted by governments, corporates and consumer brands to create, build and protect reputations. Clients trust in us because of our proven expertise.

[quote]With teams working across our London, New York, Dubai and Delhi offices. I also see Curzon PR looking to build the foundations of further offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Nairobi.[end_quote]

For those who think hiring a PR agency is quite costly, how would you ease their mind?
I would ease their mind by explaining how a great piece of coverage in the right publication can translate in to monetary gain and exposure for their brand. In certain cases the return on investment could be met from a single piece of coverage alone.

Any investment needs to be well thought out. I would advise to create a brief at the outset to list objectives, deliverables and most importantly how the results of the campaign will be measured. If clients have a clear idea of what a successful campaign looks like, then they can choose the PR agency who commits to achieving those results. We give clients peace of mind by setting KPIs (key performance indicators) at the outset so the client’s expectations are managed.

Where do you see Curzon PR in a year from here?
With teams working across our London, New York, Dubai and Delhi offices. I also see Curzon PR looking to build the foundations of further offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Nairobi.

Have you got any plans outside Curzon PR – in other media fields?
After years of working in PR I hope to share my knowledge with other people in the industry. I have been thinking of writing a book on personal branding in the digital age.

Final thoughts..
I believe it is important to give back. We have been working with Creative Access, an initiative which gives graduates of Black, Asian and non-white ethnicities paid internships (something that is hard to come by) at established organisations. Diversity and inclusion is something we are passionate about at Curzon and strongly believe in.

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