We had the good fortune of connecting with Sandy Young and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sandy, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
When people hear “PR” or “public relations,” they usually think of something glamourous with parties or celebrities or maybe political damage control. These can all be components of PR, but what most people don’t realize is that PR plays a part in a lot of the media — traditional and social — surrounding you every day. That chef cooking on your favorite local morning news program? Most likely coordinated by a PR professional. That review or feature story on the latest iGadget? Either coordinated or compiled with information and images provided by a PR person. That statement read by a CEO about a company in crisis? A PR person probably helped put that together, and trained that CEO on responding to the media’s tough questions too. The company responding to your Yelp review or comment on Facebook? Very possibly someone in PR. Our job is to be invisible, doing the behind-the-scenes work, to make our clients — organizations and companies of all sizes — highly visible.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
What sets J. Walcher Communications apart is threefold: 1) Our diverse client base that allows us to customize work for every client and build unlikely and beneficial connections. 2) Our responsiveness — clients and media alike always comment how quickly and efficiently we respond and address needs. 3) Our creativity — you will never see a press release quote that says “We are excited to announce ….” If a client will let us come up with a crazy new idea (like the time we had “Donald Trump” and “Hilary Clinton” skydive together) to get attention and build their business, we’re on it! What I’m most proud of is when we can bring recognition to an issue or initiative that is really life-changing. For example, over the past 1.5-plus years, we have helped tell the stories of Jewish Family Service of San Diego’s Migrant Family Shelter and the 23,500 asylum seekers who would’ve otherwise been stranded on the streets. Our team has overseen stories from top-tier outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, NPR, Associated Press, HBO’s VICE News, CNN, China Daily, Politico, Univision and Telemundo National, Fox News, and more. The resulting media exposure has kept San Diego’s migrant story at the forefront of the news cycle, positioned JFS and its shelter as the national model, and helped the San Diego Rapid Response Network garner important political support from California Governor Gavin Newsom and the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors. It has led to volunteers from around the world and hundreds of thousands of dollars in private donations – with over $500,000 directly tied to news coverage. My professional path has not always been easy, but all public relations takes a lot of perseverance. I have a quote on my wall that has a small square labeled, “Your Comfort Zone” with a big circle outside it that says “Where the Magic Happens.” I’m a shy person by nature, but I look at this all the time to remind myself to push harder, do better and not be satisfied with the status quo. Internships, mentors and networking are key to pretty much any successful career; PR included. I credit my success to these three things and encourage all young professionals to do the same.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m fortunate that my best friend Tammie lives in San Diego, but if another friend was coming into town, here are some places I would take them:
– Shepherd Fairey Burmese Monk Mural — The amazing street artist known for OBEY and the Obama “HOPE” poster, made this mural on the side of our old office building while we were there. Corner of 30th and Ivy in South Park
– Thread & Seed — In Bankers Hill and South Park (formerly Graffiti Beach) has fantastic clothes, beauty products and jewelry. You can basically buy me anything at this store
– Arts Park @ Chollas Creek — See world-class graffiti artists perfect their craft and try your hand at spray painting too (client shoutout!)
– Bleu Boheme — Delicious French food and amazing drinks
– Tea Station — For the best boba
– Bazaar del Mundo — Handcrafted and unique goods from all around the world in Old Town San Diego — perfect for souvenirs and gift-giving (client shoutout!)
– San Diego Repertory Theatre — For diverse, inclusive, thought-provoking theatre (I’m proud to serve on the board of trustees)
– Credo — A small chain store with amazing clean beauty products and knowledgeable staff, located inside UTC Mall
– Alpine Beer Company Pub or Tasting Room — You can’t go to San Diego without some craft beer time!
– Lions Tigers & Bears — Think “Tiger King,” but with safe, protected, amazing wild animals who used to be people’s private pets and now have a wild animal sanctuary to call home. (client shoutout!)
– Sunset Cliffs — It’s the view that brought me to come here to go to UC San Diego … and I never left
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Ooh that’s a tough one. I’ve been very fortunate to have amazing family members, a husband, friends, mentors, bosses and co-workers who have positively impacted my life. For this shoutout, I’d have to go with my sister, Lindsey. Her compassion and dedication to diversity and equality, especially related to gender and sexuality, remind me that the issues of today are not just a fad or a moment, but a necessary and critical movement — one she has dedicated her life to. She continually motivates, educates and inspires me. I love you, Whimsy!