Hala Badri | The Innovator 25 Asia Pacific 2018
Charting the future of public relations
Innovator 25 EMEA Hala Badri

Hala Badri  

Senior advisor to CEO and group communications

ADNOC
Abu Dhabi

“Innovation is being able to tell the same story in a manner that it has never been told before. It’s finding new ways to capture the hearts and minds of your customers through the right tools, technology or a simple gesture that turns a customer into a fan”

A champion of female empowerment in the Middle East, Hala Badri has laid the foundation for aspiring young Emirati women, by forging a path in business sectors critical to the UAE’s economic development: telecommunications, oil and gas, media and real estate. She has helped to transform businesses through brand innovation, and has taken corporate social responsibility to a new level in the UAE. Badri joined the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) as senior advisor to the CEO and group communications in 2017, after leading brand communications at du, the regional telco. She is the vice chair of Dubai Women Establishment and was also recently appointed as senior advisor, content development and guest experience of the UAE National Pavilion for Expo 2020. 

How do you define innovation?
For me innovation is being able to tell the same story in a manner that it has never been told before. It’s finding new ways to capture the hearts and minds of your customers through the right tools, technology or a simple gesture that turns a customer into a fan. Innovation is simplifying your target audience’s life even with your company’s complex operations.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
LinkedIn’s #initTogether integrated campaign.

Which brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
I find global brands such as Apple and Samsung quite innovative in terms of their marketing and PR approach, exploring all channels that are relevant to their audience. As for local brands, I believe Emirates Airlines deserves the trophy, as a brand that has taken its comms standards to global realms. 

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
I think being a pioneer in adopting and using social media platforms at du not only to drive engagement but also to create brand love, in addition to being the first Emirati brand to use Twitter as a means to resolve customer complaints.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Mostly by being alert or present is how I would put it. By this I mean always being alert and open to looking at fresh ideas. For example, I get a lot of creative ideas simply by watching TED bites from time to time. Sometimes, I just involve others in a brainstorm to get a fresh perspective on things.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
I think the PR industry within this region needs to get out of old-fashioned marketing and needs to get into the business of content curation. This needs not only to be more integrated with other marketing disciplines but also to be at the forefront of embracing the right technologies that allow you to innovate.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
I would be in the field of education, innovating the way we teach our children. Parents and students should never be customers, but knowledge and fun seekers.

Favourite book/movie/podcast/article that's not related to PR/marketing/business?
My favourite book of all times is “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini. My favorite movie of all time is Forrest Gump.