Cherise Silavant is a recent graduate of the University of Liverpool where she studied Sociology with Philosophy. During her time at university, Cherise became more aware of the lack of diversity and how people from BAME backgrounds are marginalised in every aspect of society. Subsequently, leading her to write a dissertation on the apparent ‘post-racial state’ of contemporary Britain.
Before starting her first full-time position at Thomas Sabo as a PR Assistant, Cherise undertook numerous internships at the likes of b.the communications agency, POP PR, Samphire Communications as well as temping at QVC whilst voluntarily working with a small business on their PR and Social Media accounts.
Besides being interested in Fashion and Beauty PR, Cherise is a skincare and natural hair junkie! Cherise aspires to write an auto-biography and start her own business which will aim to help encourage young BAME individuals to network and dream big.
Describe your background in 5 words max?
A combination of 5 countries.
How did you get into PR/comms/creative?
During university, the scariest thing you could have asked me is – “what’s your plan for after university?”. I had no clue! During the summer of second year most of my peers were securing internships in corporate organisations whilst I was working at Hobbycraft with no clue of what my future career would entail.
So, from there I googled careers which would match my personality (sounds cliché) and PR was one of them. I then googled fashion and beauty PR agencies in London to gain a greater understanding of what PR entailed. After completing two internships that summer and attending an ‘Into PR’ networking day, I knew PR was the career for me.
What do you love about your job?
Again- another cliché text book answer but I love how no two days are the same. I get bored really easily so a fast-paced ever-changing environment is a must.
What are you most proud of?
Being the first one in my family to attend university. I think what makes this such a great achievement for me is that I was not on track to pass GCSE’S or A Levels. When I was younger, I did not strive for academic success. However, as I grew older, I wanted to academically succeed but I always thought that I would never achieve it! Now look at me, I have graduated from a Russell Group University with a 2:1.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
To walk your own path and to stop comparing yourself to others. I think as humans we all want to be the best and we get disheartened when we see someone sprinting down a path you are crawling down. I have to remind myself that my path is beautiful and it will get me where I need to be within the right time for me.
Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
I love KFC’s twist on PR, just like their recent campaign of chicken shops named in a similar way (XFC for example). I was also following the chicken shortage last year and the PR team made a cheeky but great PR twist from it.
What skill do you think every PR/comms/creative has to nail?
Being able to multitask and not crack under pressure. Some days you will be overwhelmed with a two-page to-do list whilst having zero energy and you will still have to find a way to get everything completed.
What is your favourite social network and why?
Instagram and not even for the fact that pictures last a lifetime but because Instagram has really disrupted the way we think, shop and interact with each other. For a social media app to really disrupt the way we think is genius but also so scary! I love it and hate it.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
To be honest, I read things that interest me so I love any journalist that writes something that stands out. I think working within PR with the rise of social media, traditional media is less of a core focus as my gen-z soul views the news completely differently to the way we traditionally would have.
Recently I have been reading the series ‘MIXED UP’ by Natalie Morris. Mixed up interrogates what it means to be mixed race within contemporary Britain and how being mixed race has affected individuals. I love the series, it’s great for someone to recognise the marginalisation of mixed-race people.
I also love most pieces published by gal-dem which is an online and print magazine written by women of colour and non-binary people of colour.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
That not everyone in life is for us! I am a people’s person, I like to be liked, and I like to speak to whoever, whenever. So, to meet people that are not fond of you and do not want you to do well in life is a hard for me to comprehend.
Best campaign of 2019 so far?
56 Black Men – which actually started last year but is getting the attention that it deserves now. If you’re unfamiliar with it, 56 Black Men was started by Cephas Williams who used photography to change the perceptions of young black men in hoodies. It shows that society is too quick to judge and stereotype young black males.
I did like Nike’s “Crazy Woman” campaign but it was lacking the diversity I would have liked to see in 2019.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
I think there’s a lot of things that need to change within the sector to encourage diversity.
Firstly, agencies and brands need to stop offering unpaid internships or internships which only covers travel. Expecting people to work for free will only allow people who are financially supported (through family etc) to work within PR and a lot of the time these are not people from a BAME background. I do truly believe if there was more scope for paid internships, we would have a more diverse industry.
This would then lead to having people from a BAME background at all levels within PR which is one thing that we really need.
Connect with Cherise on LinkedIn.
Cherise is a mentee on the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme. She will be mentored by Anouchka Burton, Strategic Communications Consultant.