PR for the People Spotlight: Christina Newhard | Sari Sari Storybooks
This is a series of interviews with participants in PapaLoDown’s ‘PR for the People workshop’. Hear first hand from amazing people and businesses, who are learning how to amplify their stories in the news, and growing their visibility and brand awareness in the process.
Meet Christina Newhard, founder of Sari Sari Storybooks:
What is your background and experience?
I'm a mixed-race Filipina-America, born in Manila, who moved to the states at age 10. As an adult, the Philippines keeps pulling me back—I've been back 6 times and traveled the country from north to south. By profession, I've been a graphic designer for over 20 years, mostly in New York City, though I moved to Oakland a year ago.
In 2012 I felt a need to connect more closely with the Philippines via design, so I started my press, Sari-Sari Storybooks. I felt it's what I could contribute in my small way, to change negative attitudes about the Philippines, and to support self-esteem in young Filipinos, by publishing beautiful, multilingual, Filipino children's books.
What is the current Public Relations (PR) campaign you're working on about?
This campaign is about amplifying the core story of my press' four titles, their bilingualism, the culture they carry, and the way they make children and their parents feel (emotional!). Although only one title is new—Sandangaw: a Waray Tale—the books are evergreen. I don't feel they've reached all the readers they can yet.
What goals do you hope to accomplish through this PR campaign?
Ultimately, to increase sales, and build relationships with more media outlets. But my real goal is simply to learn how PR works, to "look under the hood." It's something I don't know much about, but I would really like to demystify for myself, so that I can be more intentional in my media outreach, and save myself time.
How has the experience of pitching and working with media to amplify the stories in your PR campaign been like so far?
Paloma put me in touch with the producers of NBC Bay Area Asia Pacific America, so I got to appear on the show in September, and be interviewed by Robert Handa. It was my first broadcast interview, so it was really interesting to experience that process, to think about which points to hit in just six minutes on air, what images to package for the show. I was intimidated to talk on camera, but Robert is so good at putting people at ease. I felt like I was talking to an uncle. Seeing the ripple effect of media into social media was also really cool—that repost of the video interview generated a big response from people on my social media feeds, lots of shares from people who already know and love the our books. It made me realize that people like to hear new things about Sari Sari storybooks.
What are a few things you know now about PR that you didn't know before you started?
I've learned that reporters hang out on Twitter. Who knew? I've also learned that it can take a long time and several reframings of a story, before it might get picked up, so to not get discouraged if it's not picked up right away. In general, I'm more aware now, of what themes are being written about now in media, and to think about how those themes might relate to my own work. I'd also say that the role of PR has changed in my mind, from something vague and mysterious, to "story doula." It's about facilitating stories into existence.
What other projects are you working on that we should have on our radar?
I have two events coming up on Sun, Oct 13, I'll be reading "Sandangaw: a Waray Tale," as part of the children's programming for the Filipino-American International Book Festival. We'll also have an eagle-mask making craft activity, I hope lots of families join for that.
On Sat, Oct 19, I'll be doing a book signing at the Undiscovered Night Market, at the Sari-Sari Storybooks booth, and will also preview merchandise for the holidays.
On November 13, I'll be part of a panel on independent publishing moderated by photographer and writer Michelle Yee, (a fellow PR for the People workshop participant). We'll be speaking at The Wing SF, 115 Sansome St Suite #200, San Francisco, from 6:30 - 8:30 pm. Anyone who wants to learn about what independent publishing is like should join us.
For more information on those and other events, visit www.sarisaristorybooks.com