PRWeek UK 30 Under 30: Sheeraz Gulsher, PrettyGreen

We hear from Sheeraz Gulsher (29), senior account manager, PrettyGreen.

Described as a "savvy publicist" and influencer relations expert, Gulsher's work for big-name clients including Nintendo and Snapchat has been exemplary. He's also a "new business whizz" – securing one third of PrettyGreen's new business target within three months of joining. Outside his day job, the versatile PR pro co-founded People Like Us, a networking group for BME media and marcomms professionals.

Meet the PRWeek 30 Under 30 2020

Judge's comment: "Sheeraz's nomination stood out not just because of the impact he's had for the agency and clients, but because of his passion in driving forward diversity in the industry."

How does working in PR differ from your expectations?

My (much) older brother Darain has been in the industry for about 20 years, he’s been my ‘true north’. I’ve had a good idea of how the industry operates for a little while now. 

Describe your experience of working in PR during the COVID-19 crisis.

It’s been a bittersweet three months. I’ve been lucky to work on great campaigns including the launch of Animal Crossing: New Horizons with Nintendo, and a series of announcements with Snapchat (including a partnership with Damien Hirst and announcing AR Lenses to support the COVID-19 response effort). And of course, this! Being listed in PRWeek’s 30 Under 30 is a huge honour, but I’m sad not to be able to celebrate my friends' and my own achievements in person. It’s made me think a lot about a quote that’s always stuck with me: “Happiness is only real when shared.” 

How (if at all) will the COVID-19 crisis change the PR industry?

My brother and I commissioned research for a BAME networking group we launched, People Like Us, to find out how the marcomms industry has been impacted. The sad reality is that black and minority ethnic professionals have been disproportionately affected. People of colour on average are taking a greater pay cut (+18 per cent); more than four in 10 (42 per cent) feel their career prospects have suffered; and over a third (37 per cent) feel diversity is less of a priority in their workplace. We hope with the recent rise of the culture-defining Black Lives Matter movement, our industries can use this momentum for truly positive change. 

What one thing above all would you change about the PR industry?

Paid internships need to be made mandatory. Not all of us are blessed to have relatives or family friends that can host us in London or support us if we aren't earning any money.

This is important. Beyond the societal reasons, it is sad for the industry, as we’re losing out on great talent as a result. It’s time for PR as an industry to invest in the future and give a new generation of voices from underrepresented or underprivileged backgrounds a proper chance, rather than empty gestures and virtue signalling – otherwise the industry risks becoming tired and increasingly out of touch.

What is your 'side hustle'?

I created People Like Us with my brother – it’s a networking event to celebrate black and minority ethnic voices in the media and marcomms industries.

How do you switch off from work?

Lately, I’ve been writing a screenplay about a disillusioned boxer who is being groomed by a radical religious group. Cheery. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

If the screenwriting takes off, you’ll catch me in Hollywood. Or I’ve always toyed with the idea of starting my own agency (Sexy PR will someday make PRWeek’s top 150, you heard it here first). Joking aside, I don’t mind where I am in five years as long as it’s filled with rewarding work, laughter and good people.

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