In Conversation With PR Mogul Shahnaz Ramzi

An Example of Women Empowerment!

Following the corporate series, Runway Pakistan indulged in conversation with Mrs.Shahnaz Ramzi, an extremely diversified individual who has made a mark in the field of media with her impeccable work ethic. Not only is she an entrepreneur and PR guru, running one of the most esteemed PR agencies of Pakistan- StarLinks, she is also an author, journalist, and publicist. Mrs.Ramzi sets a true example for women to follow and lead. She talks us through her journey leading to immaculate success which came with much dedication and passion.


You worked for HUM TV for many years, and then you started your own PR agency. What were the major changes from that life to this?

A lot. Life for me, during the intial years was very regimented. For 11 years I was doing the same work. The workload kept increasing but the work wasn’t being diversified. I started as the head of Public Relations and Publications. Initially, I was editing a magazine called Hum Se and I was doing their press conferences, press releases and liaison with the media for HUM TV. Later Masala TV came on and I started doing the same work for them, including editing. Then it went on to Glam and 360 and the cookbooks and the BCW catalogs. So the workload was increasing but I was doing the same thing every single day. It was just constant editing and writing and I had started getting bored, stiff and rather fed up. So I requested Duraid to please change my portfolio and give me CSR since I love doing that. I even offered to take more work, as long as it was something different, as I felt like I was starting to stagnate.

When I left to start this, every single day was a challenge. I was learning on the ground as I had never done events, just PR. I had to deal with new vendors and clients; it was a whole new learning game and a lot of fun. I had a lot of sleepless nights and had to deal with different kinds of people. This kept my adrenaline rush going, it keeps me on my toes and I love it!

How career-oriented do you think you are?

That’s a tricky question. I have never had a proper childhood career dream. I think as a kid, I just wanted to become a policeman. One Eid, my mother got very upset with me because I gave all my Eid money to a policeman. I used to salute and adore them.I never had any major ambitions but as I grew older and started developing a fondness for writing, I wanted to be an author. As I entered university, I took up journalism as it felt like the right path. I was already married by that time and there wasn’t any real desire for me to continue and pursue it as a career. I wanted to but it was just there at the back of my mind.

Then as I had children, I got busy with them. I did start a bit of a pastime work, with my sister-in-law. We started doing children’s accessories and novelties by the name of ‘Karigari’. During those times, I think every other housewife was doing such exhibitions at Holiday Inn, most of which were clothing exhibitions. We opted for a different thing. Our exhibitions became a real hit and we continued for about 10 years. Other people had joined me in this work too and we further expanded to Lahore as well.

My husband and I also joined an international NGO, as soon as we got married and we both were active members. I started as a Director and then went forward to becoming the President of my chapter and even became the Vice President of the national body. My husband went on to become the Vice President of the international body.I was working all along but on a voluntary basis. One day my husband says to me, “After receiving good education, why are you working as a tailor” and encouraged me to return to my passion; writing.

During those days a friend of mine, Faheem, was on the look-out for a good freelance writer and came to me wanting to introduce my writing to Dawn and a few other places. He kept insisting and eventually I had to give in. It wasn’t that I was actively looking for a career; I was pretty much bull-dozed into it.

I wrote a humorous piece on the art of driving in Pakistan as my sample and Faheem introduced me to everyone. I was given assignments and deadlines and that’s how my career in writing was initiated.

Talk us through your journey of when you joined HUM Network 

My journey to HUM TV  started as I took Sultana Appa’s interview and she called me later wanting to meet. Upon our meeting, she told me about her being the president of MNWPGO, which basically consists of women in media and other professional women. I joined it and started attending the meetings. I was tasked with editing a newsletter for the group.

Meanwhile, I had also become quite involved with the heritage foundation in 2000s and we were doing lots of projects. I had to visit Bhawalpur for a trip and while there I called up Sultana Appa as I needed an excerpt for the newsletter. She was surprised at me working on this while on a trip and asked to meet once I returned to Karachi.

When I got back, I slacked off and didn’t go meet her. Sometime late, she called me up asking why I hadn’t met her. After a few phone calls, I finally met with her and she informed me that she was starting up a new channel, wanting me to be head of PR. I laughed it off since the only thing I knew about it was the one chapter we had studied on PR during university. I told her I had always worked as a freelancer and had a very hectic social life so a 9-5 wouldn’t be possible for me. My family wouldn’t have been okay with it either. She asked me to discuss it with them, claiming that I would thank her for it later.

That was also the time when my daughter was about to be married. So I got back home expecting protests against me working but my husband was beyond supportive. He recommended me trying for 3 months and checking it out. I went to my daughter, hoping she would side with me, but she followed her father’s stance too. So I started off but only temporarily for 3 months. Those 3 months never arrived.I started as a part-timer for the first 3-4 years, until my mother-in-law passed away. After that, due to the increasing workload, I shifted to full-time.

Mina Ramzi, Shahnaz Ramzi and Turab Ramzi

With your daughter-in-law working at Starlinks, is it now becoming a family business?

This started as a family business. I wouldn’t have left HUM TV if it wasn’t for my family. My son used to work in Sharjah and he joined my husband’s construction business but due to being quite art-incline.He wasn’t having the best time with it. After he got married, I proposed starting Starlinks together for them since I had the experience and respect; both of which they could cash in on. They agreed and so, we started.

In your 3 years long portfolio, how many clients have you worked with?

I can’t say off the top of my head but we’ve had a very diverse range of clients and the company profile shows that off nicely. We’ve worked for TV channels, press conferences, weddings, corporate, award shows like IIPA etc.

Shahnaz Ramzi meeting Prince Charles

How is PR different from advertising?

Oh, it’s completely different! Advertising is all about paying to blow your own trumpet. You pay for a banner or an editorial etc., whereas PR is getting the same publicity without paying for it. You’re paying just the PR Company and getting it done because of their liaison with all their clients.

Is PR just related to organizing events?

No, PR and events are separate things. We can be hired to do both or we can be hired for just PR or just the event. In a wedding, for example, we do no PR, just event management. For DICE we did the social and print media, which is PR and there was no event management in that. We sent out invitations, followed them up, got press releases published, we worked in getting posters up, creating hype, etc. That is purely PR.

How has the current boom in social media helped your agency?

Social media has now become so big that authentic journalists are being ignored. I believe it’s unfair to people who have worked hard and earned that position in an ethical way. Every other person seems to think they have what it takes to become a journalist now. They may not even be able to write a line in proper English, they aren’t professionals and are only there as it’s the fastest way of earning money without stepping out of their comfort zones. You get all kinds of freebies and meets with people without having a 9-5 working pressure. So everyone has now made themselves into a blogger or a social media person. The problem is that clients actually want them.

These people don’t realize it’s a proper profession that needs to be handled with responsibility as others can face the consequences of your negativity. It is true that social media has helped raise awareness a lot. Malala and Zainab’s cases wouldn’t have become such major issues had it not been for social media outrage. But it needs to be used with great care.

Shahnaz Ramzi presented with the Pakistan excellence award

You mentioned that you have a diverse range of clientele, what would you say was the most unusual thing you’ve done for them?

I think there were two clients who were particularly challenging. Luckyone mall is the one that has gotten us so many of our awards. When they arrived on our doorstep, we were only six months in the business. They asked for our portfolio and it was a pretty huge deal since we didn’t have much to show them. They considered us either way, we presented a bid to them and we were shortlisted over a period of several months and then finally selected among the final 3. It was an enormous achievement. If I think about it now, I literally get goosebumps.

We managed to pull it off quite well Alhamdullilah. The event itself was huge, we had performers from Lahore and even abroad. It was also very challenging as three days before the launch, the owner held a meeting with us at 10 pm telling us that hypermart had backed out. Since no mall in Pakistan had opened without a hypermart and that is the component that gets most footfall, he wanted to shut it down. I somehow managed to convince him otherwise somehow as delaying the opening would prove to be a terrible waste of money. This went on till 12 pm, I guaranteed that it would be a success and eventually he agreed, hence all these awards in my office.

We were supposed to do a 3-day event, but we elongated it to 13 days instead since the celebration was simply continuous. My son and another employee stayed at one of their flats all this time since we had events that lasted all day and night. That was the greatest feather in our crown. The supposed 500 invitations were turned to 5000. The crowd was immense. It was the most amazing kind of madness.

The second was the Pepsi Battle of the Bands event that we were selected for a mere 3-4 days beforehand. The material was delayed until one night before and we worked through the night to hold the event in the next evening. That was a real nightmare. These two clients are till date the most unforgettable for me.

Where did the name Starlinks come from?

Our cinema’s name was Star and the company’s name is StarBela so the Star part has been in our family for a while. My husband wanted this to be named something connected to that and there was also the celebrity component of the word star. My daughter-in-law came up with the name since our job was to provide linkages and I loved it.

Anything you wish to put forward for the readers?

I feel like people ask me about whether I’m put down or not encouraged to excel due to my gender a lot. From my experience, that isn’t true at all in the industry I’ve worked in. I’ve always seen slight leverage for women in our environment; I’ve experienced my gender opening more doors for me.

There is no denying the harassment that occurs though. Sick people who do such things are everywhere. I genuinely hope the Me Too campaign manages to achieve its objective and make these people realize that they cannot go unaccountable for their actions anymore.

Media has had a terrible reputation regarding these things; I believe that’s not true anymore thankfully. More educated women have taken up positions in the industry and therefore have made it a safer place for young girls to work in. It has almost become a family environment.

Rapid Fire


Favorite thing in your closet right now?

Shoes and purses.

Any pets?           

Not a pet person.

Best advice you’ve received up till now?

Fight for your rights.

Are you a movie person?

Yes for sure.

Favorite movie?

Parent Trap. I’m a very soppy person.

Describe yourself as a teenager in three words.

Tomboy, daring and friendly.

Are you a chocolate person?


Dark or milk?


 If you could be from any decade or era, which would it be?


If you could have 2 people, dead or alive, over for dinner who would they be?

Neil Armstrong and Nelson Mandella.

A book that has positively shaped you?

Count of Monte Cristo.

If there was a biographic movie made on you, who would you want to play your character?

Sanam Saeed.

iPhone or android?


Favorite TV SHOW?

Zara hatt ke.

If your house was on fire, which 2 things would you run back to get?

My purse and my contact lens solution.

Your favorite Pakistani journalist?

Asif Noorani, and Qasim Abdullah Moini

The best gift you’ve ever received?

My grandkids.

If you had one superpower, what would it be?

To be able to know what other people are thinking.

Any message for young graduates?

Please take your studies seriously. I have come across a lot of candidates with CVs, talking about excellent Urdu and English language skills, and then the CV itself is written so poorly that it proves otherwise. I feel like people these days are slacking off. There is no commitment and discipline. Punctuality is very important. Whatever work you hand in, you should first be satisfied with it. I still edit my work 5 times before submitting it.