Member Profile: Victoria Sanchez De Alba
Meet our members! We will periodically feature veteran and new PRSA San Francisco members, and tell the story of their public relations career. If you would like to suggest a PRSA San Francisco member for a profile, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Victoria Sanchez De Alba
President at De Alba Communications
How did you get started in public relations/communications and what has your journey looked like?
Growing up in the Salinas Valley, I knew as a young girl that I wanted a career in communications so that I could help make a difference. I worked in the fields, from sixth grade until I graduated from high school, harvesting produce and fruit during my summer vacations. There I witnessed tremendous health issues and social inequalities, especially those relating to working conditions, the use of pesticides, and family health benefits. My goal from early on was to help create a more socially responsible world, and to help raise public awareness for people, organizations and businesses in the community through the use of media.
For many years I worked in the news media industry and ultimately as a television news producer. This career was very stimulating for me, as I got to cover stories concerning poor and working class health status disparities in various races and ethnic groups, as well as technology, consumer issues, education, and politics. While I worked at the Center for Investigative Reporting in San Francisco, I was part of a team that won a National News Emmy Award.
After producing television news, I decided to transfer my journalism skills to PR/Media Relations and got a job at The Terpin Group, a leading high-tech PR firm in San Francisco. The people there and the accounts I worked on were both inspiring to me, on top of which I acquired tremendous agency experience. However, after about three years at the firm, the dot-com bubble burst and there were layoffs. I went out on my own as an independent consultant and formed De Alba Communications, a Media Relations/PR and integrated communications consultancy of experienced, multicultural professionals.
Today, De Alba Communications raises public awareness through strategic media outreach – in both mainstream and multicultural markets – for corporations, businesses and nonprofit organizations.
What do you like the most about your career in public relations/communications?
I can be selective about the clients I want to work with. Since the field of PR has evolved, I can also take on the role of media relations expert, journalist and video producer, as well as someone who does voiceovers and reaches out to the community. In essence, each day is not the same. There is always something exciting going on.
Tell us about a memorable moment in your career.
I have worked on significant projects for corporations, businesses and nonprofit organizations in the consumer products and services, arts, education, finance, government, health, politics, real estate, technology and transportation industries. But one of my proudest moments was when I was able to raise public awareness through major media outlets about the 60th anniversary of an historic, landmark case, Mendez vs. Westminster (1947).
It was in this case that NAACP lawyer, Thurgood Marshall, developed and articulated the winning arguments he was to make in Brown vs. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court, which outlawed segregation in schools nationwide in 1954. Mendez and four other Orange County Latino families had sued four school districts, and the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the decades-old federal doctrine of "separate but equal" violated the U.S. Constitution. In 2007, Sylvia Mendez was lauded at San Francisco’s Ninth Circuit's Seventh Street courthouse by the San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association at a screening of the Emmy Award-winning documentary about her family's precedent-setting but little-known lawsuit, "Mendez vs. Westminster: For All the Children/Para Todos Los Niños."
Much of the public and media were unaware of the Mendez decision. It makes me wonder what my life would be like had the Mendez decision not outlawed segregation in schools and public facilities. For further info, please visit here.
Why did you join PRSA and how does your membership benefit you?
I joined PRSA to further my career, for professional development opportunities, and to network, the result of which has allowed me to meet some wonderful and talented people in the organization. To this day, I very much enjoy PRSA events and materials, and find the Public Relations Tactics publication especially informative!
As a side note, when I first joined PRSA in 2003, there was hardly any diversity when it came to association membership and board members, and our panels did not include ethnically diverse experts. I met with the powers that be about my concern and, along with Curt Olsen, APR, initiated the launch of the PRSA-SF Chapter’s Diversity Committee, on which I served as a Board member.
It has also been a personal endeavor of mine to spearhead outreach to nonprofits, corporations, and PR agencies in order to increase multicultural membership and cross-promote events and membership drives. In addition, membership in PRSA has enabled me to help launch our group’s outreach to an inner city, multi-culturally diverse San Francisco high school, where our goal is to inspire, inform and motivate students about careers in Public Relations. This is something that PRSA needs to continue doing, and for which I will take on an even more active role in the near future.