Humans of Berkeley – Renee Sanchez

Written by Renee Sanchez

29 August 2023


“Mr. President, Mr. President! May I ask you a question?” I was not supposed to ask any questions. It was a photo op of President George H.W. Bush visiting a national laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I was a cub reporter. President George Bush Senior was running for reelection, and he replied with a resounding “no” to my request.

As the President was walking out of the event, I shouted out the question anyway – a softball question about electoral votes. Luckily for me, the U.S. Senator with him, Pete Domenici, was familiar with my work and suggested the President talk to the local reporter. Moments later, I was granted an exclusive interview while the White House Press Corps waited behind the rope line.

Yes, this is one of my go-to stories when friends or colleagues ask me about my time as a journalist. But there were so many memorable stories I had the privilege of covering. I truly believe that everyone has an interesting story to tell.

There was the Korean War veteran who shed tears as he spoke poignantly about his fellow soldiers. I remember the cancer survivor who told me she felt like the Yankees after winning the World Series. There was the Navy wife who turned red in the face when I asked her on live television about the first thing she wanted to do now that her husband had returned from deployment. After I turned red in the face, I admitted to the viewers what a dumb question that was considering that her husband had been at sea for six months. Then I asked about the second thing she wanted to do when they got home. She chuckled and talked lovingly about all the home-cooked meals she was planning and all the family time ahead.

I am a storyteller at heart and curious by nature. What drew me to public relations was the chance to tell more stories and learn new things from subject matter experts. Stories provide context for your message and help you explain complex ideas or concepts.

A well-told story resonates with your audience better than a list of facts or a set of industry jargon. When people connect emotionally with a story, they are more likely to pay attention, remember it, and even share it with others. My family likes to tell the one about the time I got an exclusive with President Bush, and then interviewed his son, President George W. Bush, years later. But that’s a story for another time.

About Renee

  • Who is your favourite storyteller? My mother is my favourite storyteller. She always had a knack for creating pictures through words.
  • What would you sing at a karaoke night? The Chicks’ version of Landslide by Stevie Nicks
  • What is the most used app on your phone? The clock app

For more insight from Renee’s journey across journalism and PR, check out her new blog series ‘Newsworthy Narratives’.