July 2020 Program Recap
“Taking a Stand: Before Speaking Out, Look Inward” with Gabriel Sanchez
Thursday, July 16, 2020 | 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
- Make sure your organization’s policies align with your stance before deciding on and publicizing it.
- There must be a connection between your stance and your organization’s mission. If taking a stand does not align with your organization’s mission, do not speak out.
- Adopt a “pre-crisis mindset” and always be prepared to pivot and adapt based on changing circumstances.
- Remember that everyone is a spokesperson. Speak to members of your team about the organization’s stance so everyone is aligned.
This year has certainly been one where many companies have chosen to take a stand on polarizing issues, such as wearing masks in public and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. For this reason, it is important for companies to think critically before taking a stance and going to the public with it.
On Thursday, July 16, 2020, Gabriel Sanchez was the featured speaker for the FPRA Capital Chapter webinar entitled “Taking a Stand: Before Speaking Out, Look Inward.” This webinar provided valuable advice to PR professionals on having a conversation with senior leadership in their organizations.
Sanchez has been in the communications field for almost 20 years, with experience ranging from being press secretary for political campaigns to leading communication teams at nonprofits across California. Most of his experiences are in developing both short-term and long-term communication plans. Sanchez’s degrees are in Political Science and Chicano Studies.
Currently, Sanchez is the director of Communications for First 5 LA. Founded in 1998, First 5 LA is a nonprofit created by California voters to advocate for children aged 0-5 in LA county. They work with local and state government to provide better education to children, provide home visits to families and lead local research efforts to better support the children of LA county. As the director of Communications, Sanchez leads the communications team to create communication strategies which support the First 5 LA brand and bring awareness to the importance of childhood development.
It is with these experiences in mind that Sanchez shared his insights on taking a stance. Sanchez opened the webinar with four questions a company should ask themselves when deciding to take a stand. They are:
- What is your reason for taking a stance?
- Will your existing audience be receptive to your stance?
- What is your history on the issue?
- What do you hope to accomplish?
Sanchez then spoke about how First 5 LA approached taking a stand on immigration in 2018. Since First 5 LA focuses on children, immigration law is outside of their scope. However, by finding entry points such as current immigration laws being a barrier to children receiving the care and education they need, First 5 LA found a way to take a stand while focusing fully on their organization’s mission. When discussing why they spoke out, Sanchez said, “This is something that is hurting children. That’s why we are speaking out.”
Sanchez also spoke about when taking a stand goes wrong, pointing to the Starbucks #RaceTogether campaign and the Nike’s Dream Crazy campaign. Both campaigns took a stand before discussing how the stance aligned with their organization’s mission. In the case of Starbucks, they ignored their company history by speaking out on an issue they had never addressed before. Nike launched a campaign about gender equity before ensuring their policies aligned with the stance they made. Both examples teach PR professionals the importance of looking inward before speaking out.
Sanchez ended the talk with four things to remember:
- When taking a stand, you do not have to have a solution.
- Be honest with yourself, your leadership and your employees.
- Be authentic with your audience.
- Be vulnerable and let your audiences influence your actions.
To read more from Sanchez’s about taking a stand, check out his article published by the Public Relations Society of America: “Taking a Stand: Before Speaking Out, Look Inward”
– Abigail Ellis, Senior at Florida State University (Member since 2019)