Sandra Garcia is a “conscious” Public Relations professional with over 10 years in the field who believes that stories have the power to change the world. This vegetarian, Transcendental Meditation practitioner, film and self-development junkie, and writer, tells the Organization of Canadian Women in Public Relations she re-branded her company into Conscious PR in 2012 after an epiphany she had. She wanted to run a business that reflected her personal values, and help the companies doing good for the world get their stories out there. In 2016, Sandra is hoping to expand her team!
Name: Sandra Garcia
Business: Conscious Public Relations Inc.
Education: Bachelor of Arts in English Literature & Film Studies
What inspired you to start your own PR agency? – In a year and a half, I went from an intern to Office Manager and Assistant to the Partners. After leaving the company, I thought a lot about the kind of company I wanted to work for, and realized that I could create it on my own by freelancing. My sister was running her own business at the time, and she inspired me to become a business owner.
What was your first job in public relations and what did you take away from the experience?- My first job was PR & Events Assistant and I learned that the best way to learn PR is on the job. I learned that long hours were sometimes required to service our clients, and that sometimes the way other people do things isn’t necessarily the best way. Since 80% of our clients were events, I learned that I didn’t want to be an event planner for the rest of my life, and realized that writing and media relations was an area in which I wanted to gain more expertise.
How do you prioritize and start your work day?- After meditating, breakfast, and exercise, I scan news headlines, post on Instagram, engage on Facebook, and then dive into e-mail. I make sure that I have an hour for lunch and then spend mornings and afternoons servicing clients, doing business development, or having meetings. Each week I spend time scanning blogs that I follow as well.
Have you had any challenges in your PR career? – Most of my challenges have been more about being a business owner rather than practicing PR. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that it’s a lot of work to run the business and service clients. Once I started bringing interns and contractors onto my team, I realized where my time and skills could be better spent. I don’t find that being a woman is a barrier, although I imagine that men wouldn’t take as much time as I do to decide how much to charge clients or whether or not to raise our rates. I think that women use their emotions a lot more in business, and that can be both a strength and a weakness. I’m constantly working on being firm and decisive when it comes to the business, but empathetic when it comes to connecting with our clients.
The worst misconception about the field of public relations is that we are liars and we only work to make our clients look good.
What is your greatest achievement in your PR career? – I’m honoured to have been on the founding Marketing team for G Day for Girls and seen how PR helped a social movement go from one city to across the country.
What are your tips for setting yourself apart in the PR workplace? – Be creative. Your out-of-the-box ideas will make you stand out both in the company you work for, and as a company.
What advice would you give to your younger self? – Don’t worry so much about what other people think, stop doing it if you’re not having fun, and spend more time with people who raise you up.
How can a new PR graduate set themselves apart in the hiring process? – Having some work experience before applying for internships or paid positions always helps, and demonstrating why you are a good fit for the company and their clients. I also always appreciate a well-written, personalized cover letter.
What’s next? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? – I’m looking forward to Conscious PR being one of the first few PR companies in Canada with B Corp. certification, and bringing on more people onto the team to help us change the world through better storytelling for our clients. In five years, I hope to still love what I’m doing for a living, have traveled to at least one new continent, and be making a positive difference in others’ lives and for the planet.