Skip to Content

United We Dream at ComNetworkV21

ComNetworkV21 Keynote

Bruna Sollod, Communications Director, and José Muñoz, Deputy Communications Director, from United We Dream present the Jones Impact Award Keynote at ComNetworkV21. They discuss their ‘Home is Here’ campaign as a case study, which led to immigrant youth’s victory at the Supreme Court on DACA.

Below, watch the video, listen to the podcast, or read the transcript.



Lyda Vanegas: Hi everyone, I’m Lyda Vanegas, Vice President of Marketing, Communications at Mary’s Center in Washington, D.C. and one of this year’s judges of the Clarence B. Jones Impact Award. An award that celebrates and promotes communications for a good that have made a difference and this year’s winner has certainly done that. Before I announce that winner, let me tell you that this nonprofit is the largest immigrant youth organization in the country that advocates for dreamers. And through very innovative marketing campaigns and very strategic tactics with tons of storytelling, they have gotten the attention of the Supreme Court and the country at large. Now that is impact work. On behalf of my fellow judges, we are thrilled to announce United We Dream as the 2021 Clarence B. Jones Impact Award. Please welcome Bruna Sollod and José Muñoz who share a case study Keynote on their Home is Here campaign.

Bruna: Hi everyone, my name is Bruna Brid Sollod and this year I have the honor of accepting the Clarence B. Jones Impact Award on behalf of United We Dream staff and our millions of members across the country. I want to acknowledge that this is the first time in the award’s history that the communications work of undocumented people has been recognized. And that two undocumented people, me and José, are giving the keynote this year. For us, this win is not just about executing a communications campaign with impact, it’s about ensuring that directly impacted people are leading in every aspect of our work. The vision, the strategy, and the execution of the Home is Here campaign was led by all undocumented young people. My hope for all of you watching at home right now is that if you are undocumented, if you are a young person of color, you see yourself in the work that we did and it inspires you to take big leaps in your own communications work that will lead to wins the impact us all. If you are an ally, we encourage you to make the space to listen and follow the lead of directly impacted people. Because when we do, magical breakthroughs happen. Thank you so much for the special honor. Now for introductions, I was born in Brazil, I grew up in Florida, I am undocumented and I am unafraid. And along with 11 million other undocumented people in this country, I am here to stay. I proudly serve as United We Dream’s Communication Director and now I’m going to pass it on to my colleague José to introduce himself.

José: Thank you so much Bruna and good afternoon everyone. My name is José Muñoz, I have the pleasure of serving as the Deputy Communications Director for United We Dream. A little bit about myself, I came to the US from Mexico when I was just a few months old and I grew up queer and undocumented in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have a degree in Communications from the University of Minnesota and often growing up undocumented, it was hard to see myself reflected in the spaces that I was hoping to be in. So it really honestly is such an honor to be here today sharing the space with all of you. Even if it is through a screen. In my work, I have the privilege of helping to tell the stories of a documented young people and our families, and today you will get a special behind the scenes and how we used our communications prowess to protect undocumented people at the Supreme Court. We’ll share lessons that we have learned from our campaign so that you can use it in your own work. And we have a really packed agenda today. So I want to make sure we get started right away. Bruna.

Bruna: Now we’re gonna show you what United We Dream is all about with our video.


Bruna: We hope that video showed you a little bit about what United We Dream is all about. But United We Dream is the largest in the country, we were founded in 2008 and now we have nearly 1 million members. Being undocumented can lead to discrimination and fear, we are often denied basic human rights like healthcare, workers rights, access to driver’s license, the ability to travel outside the country. All of those things are things that a lot of US citizens can take for granted. But United We Dream was created for and by immigrant young people to transform that fear into power. Power so we can fight for our rights and win campaigns that bring justice and dignity for immigrants and all people. So let’s talk about our communications work in the Home is Here campaign.

José: Thanks Bruna and now we will have the opportunity to talk to you about the case study that helped us be here in this moment with all of you which was a campaign that we led to protect immigrant young people at the Supreme Court during the Trump Administration. But let’s take a step back first and let’s talk about what is DACA in the first place? DACA stands for the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals Program. You’re gonna hear us say DACA for short. It is a policy that was instituted by President Obama in 2012 which provides a two-year renewable work permit and protections from deportation. Both Bruna and I are DACA recipients. So for those of you that have never heard of DACA before, now you can say that you know two DACA recipients. The thing that is important to recognize about DACA is that it does not provide a pathway to citizenship and it’s just temporary. I’m sharing on the screen now you will see what we think are two really iconic imageries. This is actually the day that President Obama announced DACA in the Rose Garden and I want to share the story of DACA doesn’t begin here. It started years before that. It really came to be because of immigrant young people from United We Dream who led a courageous and relentless campaign to demand a stop to the pain of deportations and pressure the Obama Administration to take action to protect our communities. The reality is that the campaign for what became DACA, really started in 2012 when President Obama and his legislative majority in the Senate and the House failed to pass the Dream Act, which is a bill which would provide a path to citizenship for immigrant young people. We did not relent, we knew that we had to protect our communities anyway that we could and so we made the decision to pressure President Obama. We strategized and we took over Obama reelection campaign offices, we shared our stories, and we did everything we could think of to push the administration over their record number of deportations. And that is how we won DACA the victory DACA really is a testament to the power of youth organizing and movement building, and it is a victory that was won and implemented through United We Dream’s Own the Dream and Right to Dream campaigns which were led by directly impacted young people. Thanks to our efforts, DACA has been the largest victory in immigration in over 30 years protecting at its height over 800,000 young people. So, as you can imagine, when we saw the possibility of it being challenged by an incoming administration, we knew we immediately had to take action to protect our victory.

Bruna: As a candidate, Trump made it very clear that immigrants would be a target of his vitriol and racism. We knew that he would come after the protections we had with DACA so we were not surprised he ended the DACA program and the end of September 2017. So, we strategized, we had to both save the program and change the narrative about immigrants, who we were and what we deserved. So that led us to a two-prong approach in the months and years following DACA’s rescission. As you can see in the picture, we mobilized across the country with actions with rallies with press conferences to ensure that every single American person knew what DACA was, that we were in threat of deportation and what they could do about it. And then we also worked with partners and litigators on the legal fight to make the case that Trump was wrong to end the DACA program. And now we head to the Supreme Court. All of this work was done on the for the span of two years when we got the news that the legal case on whether Trump followed the right procedures to end DACA was going to be heard by the Supreme Court. And there is our biggest communications challenge to win a Supreme Court case during the Trump administration. During an administration and a president that was going to be hateful loud, and he would have much bigger platforms than we did. So back to strategizing, we knew that with the makeup of the Supreme Court in 2019 our only chance to win was to get chief justice Roberts to vote with the other four liberal justices. chief justice Roberts was then the swing vote and we needed to convince him that we were right, and Trump was wrong. with that target we set out to show chief justice Roberts the stakes of his decision and that if he ruled the wrong way he would be impacting not only 800,000 DACA recipients but over 2 million U.S. citizens that have a loved one with DACA. We also needed to show the American people cared about this issue because we know that Supreme Court justices in their rulings try to take into account where our country is at, at that particular moment and that leads us to our goals for our campaign. Our communications goals to win at the Supreme Court were these. We needed to tell the stories of who was impacted by the decision, not through the stereotypes that the media and politicians use about us but based on our lived experiences. we also needed to make the stakes really really clear: if Trump ended DACA, we would be put on a pathway to deportation our last goal is about you know us knowing that this fight is not just about DACA DACA like José mentioned is temporary, it leaves millions of people out DACA for us is the floor not the ceiling of what we deserve. So, with this campaign we needed to also tell the stories of undocumented people who were living in threat of detention and deportation and did not have DACA protecting them. This goal supported our long-term strategy to deliver citizenship for millions and I’ll hand it over to José to share our solutions.

José: So our solution here really was kind of simple, we wanted to disrupt. when it came to meeting the moment we knew there was too much at stake not to. It was important for us to use our strengths as an organization and as a movement and that really started with one of our main tactics in front of the Supreme Court. United We Dream has trained thousands of young people to share their stories and we’ve actually done amicus briefs at the Supreme Court in the past but we knew we had to think outside the box. We had to come up with something different. And recently the Supreme Court had started accepting new forms of amicus briefs aside from the general legal briefs and so we made a decision to use that to our advantage and we created the first of its kind video amicus brief. Ultimately we knew that the impact of this decision was on people and so we wanted to make our stories inescapable. So we chose to do video storytelling briefs as a way for the court to hear the stories of daca recipients in their own words. We wanted them to see the daca recipients and their families. We wanted them to follow us for a day and recognize the impact of their decision. One of my favorite moments from one of the nine videos that we produced and submitted to the court was one where we follow a daca recipient named sana who lives in New York and my favorite moment from that video is when we follow her on her commute to work, she takes the subway. And it seems like a really mundane task, which i know many of us might take for granted right now since our commute you know might be just to the next room. But at that time it was just such a mundane thing to see sana riding the subway going to work but we juxtaposed it with her narrating the story of her brother being deported and her own fear that if she were to lose daca she could be detained and deported. With these videos it was really important that we were being inclusive as well of the vast experiences of daca recipients. We were all different ages different sexual orientations, we spoke different languages and came from different countries but why don’t I just show you an example of one of them. I want to show you a video that we produced and submitted to the court from a daca recipient named Manny.


José: Wow I almost wanted to sit for a second with that. That is an example of the videos that the Supreme Court justices got to see as part of our amicus brief. and there were various communication strategies and tactics that we took on throughout this campaign, it was over a year long. but we’re going to focus on just a few things and some of the lessons that we learned. and one was really that while we were disrupting at the Supreme Court with you know the first of its kind video amicus brief, like Bruna mentioned earlier part of the strategy here was also to expand the conversation and make sure that aside from the justices who were getting this brief that we were making sure other people were seeing these videos as well. and so earned media was a major strategy in our work. We needed to make sure that the stories were getting into publications that we knew that Chief Justices Roberts and his legal clerks would read and we also were working with reporters who were already covering our issue and our stories to make sure that they were doing so in a nuanced way. part of our media strategy was really to ensure that we were increasing the reach of the people who were getting these stories and turning our own content which you got to see into earned media and there’s two really good examples of doing that, disrupting traditional pitching. one was we worked with publications like Now This, they have a very specific style of video and so we gave them our videos and we said cut them into what works for your audience. And so they ended up doing that with two of the videos that we produced. Similarly we also worked with publications like NPR who also have a very specific way of telling stories. And so we actually provided the video the audio only with none of the background music so it kind of sounded like reporters were actually in the on the ground in the field doing the interviews with these people themselves. and so it was really important for us to be really thinking outside of the box to ensure that we were turning this this own content into earned media. We also made sure that we recognize that sometimes reporters and producers and editors in the media have their own idea in their head about how they want to tell a particular story. They have preconceived notions that sometimes we can find very limiting as people who work on this issue more closely and so we also wanted to be very thoughtful and intentional about training our spokespeople to make sure that we were finding ways to disrupt these preconceived notions and telling the true story of who undocumented young people were and making sure that the story that was being told about the Supreme Court’s decision was about the people it would impact and not about the uh the people who made that decision possible in the first place like the Trump Administration. Bruna is going to talk to us a little bit through about some other ways that we disrupted.

Bruna: So during the Supreme Court hearing, Chief Justice Roberts made a comment that had us all worried. He said that he did not believe the issue about DACA was deportation protection because he did not think the Trump Administration would deport undocumented immigrant youth. We knew that was not true, we had seen immigrant youth being put on a path to deportation by the Trump Administration. That was our lived experience and Roberts was trying to erase the dangers that our community was in. So the question we had to grapple with was, how do you make someone who’s so far removed from the lived experience to really one understand what this is about. That this was about deportation. So we were quick on our feet and we employed a few communications tactics that I’m showing you here in this slide. On the left you’ll on the bottom left you’ll see an article that we worked with Dara Lind a very well respected reporter our partners at Make the Road New York had data that showed the deportation force of ICE had access to the information of DACA recipients that meant that ICE could get our home our work address and they could come knocking on our doors to detain and deport us. We knew that that information needed to create a big moment in the campaign and it needed to happen before Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion. So again we worked exclusively with Dara Lind from Propublica to announce the information. Once that article broke we knew that we couldn’t only be the ones talking about it we couldn’t only be the ones that were being loud and disruptive about this we needed to find key voices to amplify. We knew that then Senator Kamala Harris would get to ask questions of the head of ICE at a Senate Hearing. And so what you see here is we gave then Senator Harris the information to ask a specific question to the head of ICE when she asked them if they were going to plan to deport DACA recipients he said that that was a possibility. So we used the clip from that hearing and we sent it across to every publication we knew to make sure they wrote about this and you’ll see that article here as well. Our second tactic. which you can see on the top right, was to show that DACA recipients themselves live with the fear of deportation. That we weren’t just talking about it our folks are really feeling it. So we worked with publications like MTV to do personal essays from DACA recipients themselves on the impact that this was having on their lives and their fears for their future so that the American people again was hearing from all of these different voices to ensure that we were saying the same thing. The threat of deportation was real, we had proof, we had it from the mouth of the head of ICE, and our people felt that fear. All of these articles you see we really knew that we needed to get them in front of not only the Chief Justice Roberts but his clerks as well. I’m now passing to José to talk about our last and third tactic.

José: You know in responding to the moment it was really important to be agile in making sure that we recognized the reality that we were living in under COVID19. And it was important for us to really highlight the impact that the supreme court ending DACA during a pandemic would have on DACA recipients and really on millions of Americans who relied on them as well. You know the media wanted to paint a really broad brush about who frontline workers were and it was important for us to use this moment and tell the story of the folks who were front-line workers who had DACA. We worked with united we dream members who were working on the front lines as health care workers to talk about the impact of losing their work permit and what that would have on their ability to work and help to continue keeping us safe during the COVID 19 pandemic. In this we were able to work with our spokespeople and we were able to tell really get really splashy headlines unlike you see on screen at the New York times and the Washington Post and honestly so many others there were so many people in the media that that were working with us to tell the story of DACA recipients who were working as healthcare workers. But even in that moment we actually recognized that while this was an important story, we also knew that there were other people doing other essential roles and so we needed to make sure that we were also expanding the conversation beyond just DACA recipients who were doctors or nurses. I relied on the media relationships that I already had built to pitch stories that were a little bit more outside the box than where the media wanted to tell the story. So you’ll see on the screen we worked with a reporter at Mother Jones to tell the story of a DACA recipient who was living in Wyoming and was working as a grocery store worker. because the reality was that um undocumented people not just DACA recipients were in other essential worker roles. They were working in grocery stores, they were working as janitors in hospitals, they were working as domestic workers and home aids. Undocumented people were really the ones helping to keep our country safe fed and healthy throughout the COVID 19 pandemic, and so we needed to make sure that the story did not stop with DACA recipients who were working in the health industry. And beyond that as well in terms of other times when we really had to be agile I was in making sure that we were living up to our values. You know last summer we all saw Black leaders across the country leading a racial reckoning in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd by police in my home city of Minneapolis. It was important for us to make sure that we were continuing to lift up and be in solidarity with the movements leading this reckoning in that moment. And it was really an opportunity to lift up the experiences of Black people and Black immigrants. We worked with our partners at the Movement for Black Lives and organizations like Undocublack and others to make sure that we were lifting up the realities of Black immigrants who are disproportionately impacted because they’re undocumented. Our liberation was really tied to one another and we don’t believe that any of us are free until all of us are free. And so in that moment we needed to make sure that we were updating our messaging to really reflect the moment that we were in. We actually didn’t get a Supreme Court decision until June we got it right before Juneteenth. And so it was really important that as we were doing media around the decision on June 18th that we were lifting up the reality that Black people were facing in this country particularly Black immigrants and so it was important for us to make sure that we were being thoughtful about how we were showing up for our Black siblings. and so Bruna I’m going to let you walk us through our key learnings.

Bruna: So if you have a pen and paper with you or you’re typing your computer this is the time we’re gonna share all our secrets and tell you everything. Storytelling is power at the core of who you are as a communicator is you’re a damn good storyteller. So use that superpower to tell the need you the unique story of your organization of your members. This is a you can see that a huge lesson across all everything we’ve shared with you today. Our second lesson, center directly impacted people. This campaign would have looked completely different if consultants had led it. So make sure directly impacted people are in every single room where strategy is being developed and executed. Communicators are strategists, all of you here today you understand comms you get politics you get culture you get people. So again ,make sure in your organization, you’re not keeping communicators separate from your overall strategy discussions. Media pitching in creative ways, don’t let no’s from reporters deter you. Think outside the box think about quantity think about quality over quantity and make sure your work is disrupting the media landscape. We need that, we need to ensure there’s more directly impacted people people of color young women queer people as reporters in those rooms writing those stories so we need to disrupt the media landscape as it is right now. Be agile, we all had to learn this lesson in 2020 and still today it applies so much to our work. Be ready to make changes to your strategy to your tactics and your messaging it’s never too late to make those changes. And now i hope I’m not swinging too many things for you but obviously we won our case at the Supreme Court so I’m going to hand it over to José to talk about our win.

José: You know after the hearing we, which happened in November of 2019, litigators were telling us that Justice Roberts was just simply not going to side with us. based on how the oral arguments went it wasn’t going to happen. People in the media were already writing that Justice Roberts would help the Trump administration end the DACA program but we did not let that deter us. Because this was the fight of our lives. And we decided instead to spend the next six months changing the mind of Chief Justice Roberts and making the case to the American people of the moral imperative to protect immigrant young people. and Bruna mentioned the reality that we faced when during oral arguments Roberts said that this was not about deportation it was just about work permits. And in his opinion he actually wrote the exact opposite and that the department of homeland security acted in a way that disregarded the reality that people could be deported. And so with that you see that it really was our communications push that helped to bring us there. And so I think I get to invite Sean back to help us um open it up to see if anyone has any questions.

Sean: I need to unmute myself there, sorry gang. We do have a few questions for those of you who may have a question, I am not looking in the chat. If you use the box just down below it says live Q&A, go ahead and hop in there and we have a question our friend Will is coming in. Will why don’t you join us.

Will: Hi, thank you, congratulations this is really powerful. I was just wondering if you all could tell us a little bit more just about the team that kind of put this together a little more granular just on what that looked like the people involved and how they work together. Thank you.

José: Yeah I can start a little bit with the videos, so when we started planning. I want to say that it happened in May of 2019 like a group of united people from United We Dream from different departments our communications team our digital team our our advocacy our policy team folks from our field to really come together and think about what was the story that we wanted to tell in front of the Supreme Court we had done a storytelling amicus brief in the past and so it was really important for us to to think about how do we move beyond that. And so that was a team that came together and then when it came time to producing the video the videos we worked with a director and producing team that was immigrants. We needed to make sure that the folks who were helping us to capture that footage, the folks who were helping us through the editing process as well understood our issue in a way that was that was going to be impactful. It was also really important for us to make sure that, I think I mentioned this at the beginning, but we wanted to be really inclusive and so the videos that we ended up producing, were, we had Black immigrants featured we had immigrants who were Muslim immigrants who were queer. We wanted to make sure that we understood what were some of the narratives that already existed about undocumented people like who were the stories that were being told and how could we make sure to be as inclusive as possible one thing that. I’ll share as well about the the process to edit was that our team was extremely hands-on and it went through multiple rounds of editing we got a lot of footage and there was a lot of different ways that the stories could be told and so it was really important that we were being respectful to the storytellers who will say we’re all United We Dream members. So all of the folks who are featured in the video and the brief were people that we had built relationships with for years that had really come to the network as as young undocumented people who had either organized with us or shared spaces in other ways, and so it was important that we were respecting that relationship by staying really true to those stories. I think that’s a big piece of of the video and Bruna I don’t know if you want to jump in with some of the other pieces of the campaign as well.

Bruna: Yeah I think what we didn’t get to share because obviously we have a limited amount of time and it was a year-long campaign was that this was also a coalition the home is here coalition had many many partners over 200 300 people would join our calls every week strategizing many of the membership based organizations that also have undocumented young people and so we relied on each other right to spread the word. José and I led the communications work so we got to you know strategize with other communicators like us but at the center of it what we wanted to make sure is that directly impacted people were leading the strategy and that was at the core of the Home Is Here campaign and I think why we were so successful. I really appreciate your question thank you for asking it.

Sean: So I get the privilege of the next question and this is maybe the elephant in the room. I’ve been seeing it in the chat I’m gonna stop pointing because I don’t know if I’m going the right direction but suffice in the chat folks were wondering how many people were working with you Bruna and José it can’t just have been the two of you. I think the presumption here is you have 200 people somewhere parked out in back there who are doing all this work for you is that true.

Bruna: I don’t have a number. I can’t quite say, I know the exact number.

Sean: Within your team how’s the comms shop at United We Dream organized? How many folks are in it and what are some of the key roles that you all have developed within the team?

Bruna: Sure, so within our communications team, and y’all are going to be shocked, but this is the truth, it’s it was only José and I.

Sean: Woah, no you got to repeat that. How many people are doing comms at United We Dream?

Bruna: Traditional comms is just José and I at the time we’re a bigger team now, which is very exciting but I want to shout out our digital team, which at the time might have been eight or seven folks they might get mad at me if I’m getting that number wrong. but at United We Dream we’re split up into traditional comms and digital comms. I think José mentioned like this work would not have been possible without our advocacy team without our field and organizing team without our operations team without our executive director our CEO all the folks that keep us running our development team that allows us to have the funds to do this work. So all of us say United We Dream I think in total around last year we were a team of about 40 50 folks all around at United We Dream but yes our communications and digital team. I will share we are small but we are mighty without a doubt.

Sean: Without a doubt and so I suppose that that begs one of the questions you raised, which was, comms has to sit at the strategy table and I know this is a source of frustration for an awful lot of folks around the globe who do comms work and folks show up at the end of some big strategy process and hand you something and say gosh can you get this on the front page of the New York Times. Is that how it worked at United We Dream?

Bruna: I will let José take that one.

Sean: It is a loaded question.

José: Yeah no, that’s definitely not how it’s it works with us. And I would say that it’s important to make sure that you know at the beginning of conversations, which we’re always in conversation to take taking action on a variety of different things and so we always make sure that we’re bringing all of our teams together. I think as communicators we have a really important role to play. We have our hand on the pulse of what’s happening in the moment what is the zeitgeist, how is what we are hoping to get across going to come across actually? We have a really good understanding. And I want to say that i was really tasked with I would quote unquote like selling these videos to reporters. And because I was involved in the process from the beginning, I knew how to do that. Like I could tell a passionate story to a reporter to make them say I want to tell that story. Like you were talking to me about this in a way that is so impactful that I actually would be missing out if I didn’t tell this story. And so it’s important for us as communicators to be in in those rooms. And I would say um to give a solution for folks that maybe that isn’t the case I think it’s important for us to sort of take that initiative and make the case for why and hopefully we helped a little bit today, make the case for why you should be in those rooms and in those spaces and speaking up to make sure that your voice is heard so you can really help out.

Sean: We have another question coming in and it’s our friend Emily coming in from Washington DC from the Pew Charitable Trust. Emily welcome.

Emily: Hi everyone congratulations José and Bruna on such an amazing campaign. I did have a question just about what was maybe the biggest challenge you faced in execution or you know just throughout the planning of this year-long campaign?

Bruna: Yeah I’ll share one and then maybe José can share another. I think for us is that because it was a year-long campaign, it’s really hard to keep the attention of the media and the American people on an issue for a year. I mean some news breaks now you get maybe three days maybe a week if you’re lucky. It’s really hard to have continuous attention and so I think what we hope we showed you today is that there were peaks and valleys right, there were moments we had to create to ensure that the attention was coming back to us. I mean obviously COVID was a huge challenge and what was happening in our country at the time. But we really leaned into it we wanted to talk about what was happening and I think that’s how we were able to overcome that challenge. But when we were you know when José and I were sitting down in December of 2019 planning out what 2020 would look like none of those plans came to fruition. we had to start from scratch when COVID became a thing and with the you know racial uprisings that were happening our country all of those plans got scrapped but I think at the end of the day you have to be scrappy and you have to be agile like we talked about and that helped us overcome those challenges.

José: Yeah and I think the only thing that I would add to that is that you know I think a big challenge was really the reality that undocumented people were facing in our country at that time. You know we were seeing people being really scared because of COVID 19. And the reality was that for many undocumented people they couldn’t stay home, and if they did they couldn’t you know make money to feed their family. And so how were we making sure that for a lot of DACA recipients you know I the DACA recipient had the privilege of working from home. And so how were we working to make sure that we were uh broadening the conversation including as many people as possible and making the realities of all undocumented people known? Because at those same times as we were waiting for this decision congress was making really important decisions about who would get relief during the pandemic and undocumented people were largely left out. And so it was a really important challenge that we took on to make sure that we were expanding and broadening that conversation.

Sean: Looks like we have another question and I want to make sure I get this name right so forgive me again Adalia, I’m getting that properly, Adalia.

Adalia: Adalia yes thank you so much, my question was just about when I think about that time, I think about the movement building was just so strong like the images that we saw in the New York Times on Twitter the home hashtag Home Is Here hashtag Here to Stay they were such rallying points. And so I’m wondering how as a team did you all strategize did you all test those slogans like how did you all land on those points that you knew would become sort of like these national rallying calls?

José: Well Home is Here has been around since before the or sorry Here to Stay has been around since before the Home is Here campaign, but I think that the best way to answer that is that because we live this life we were able to bring that to reality. You know we were able to really make the rallying cry after you know after the election of Donald Trump who had really ran on a very anti-immigrant rhetoric and agenda and saying like we’re here to stay. Like we are undocumented, we are unafraid we are here to stay and it really is about that empowering messaging. And I think when it came to making decisions about the home is here campaign and like landing on that moniker it was really building on that and building on the realities that we were facing directly impacted people.

Bruna: There was a fun story too I think when you come will you figure out like how did you come up with this campaign because we have to do that all the time as communicators. Come up with a new word a new slogan something else right. I think my favorite story about Home is Here is that like, our digital team and our field team and as we were like deciding what it would look like every little detail was important down to like the color right, the yellow. I know our digital team really thought about what that color symbolized for folks right but and my digital person might I say I’m completely wrong here but I think like the yellow for us symbolized sunflowers and the sun and what that like idea meant to. So like even those small little details that maybe doesn’t come across in a news article on a tweet like for us those details matter. Because at the core of movement work and like an organization that is led by members is that you have to get your members excited about it so it’s not just you don’t ask yourself the questions of like will the media you know publish the story or will the Supreme Court justice like understand this. At the core of a membership based organization is like will your members be excited about this and turn out right. And that’s how you get Here to Stay and Home is Here is we created something that brought that energy that passion that tenacity of what immigrants are at at our core of who we are we brought that out in this like very visual form and we got our members to take action and then there forgot allies to take action and therefore got the media to take a look at us right and I think those details are really important and i think José shared this like, we are able to sell it because we truly believe in it right and that I think makes a huge difference when you’re a communicator.

Sean: All right we have time for one more question, it’s going to go to our friend Jen. Jen what do you got?

Jen: Thanks so much, thanks for sharing your amazing work. You had talked earlier about trying to both shift preconceived notions and get more nuance into the heads of the media that were you were trying to get to write about this story and I’m curious just if you could share a little bit about how you did that like what the tactics what the specifics ways that you did that were? Because I think that’s something we all face.

José: Yeah, I would say twofold things. One is the relationships that we’re building with reporters. So I’m constantly building relationships with reporters even if I’m not trying to get them to cover something. I like to think of myself as a resource, so oh you have this question I cannot answer it but I know how to direct you so building relationships with reporters is really important. And then the second piece of how we were able to make this happen was working really really diligently with our spokespeople and people who were telling our stories their stories. It was important for us to know what stories we had and those were the stories that we were making sure that we were connecting with reporters. You know a lot of times we have we get really generic requests sometimes about from reporters like I want to talk to a DACA recipient who’s impacted by this. It’s not very specific and so it’s up to us to recognize like who are the stories that we have let’s put them with someone whose story is not often told by the media and so those are some of the ways that we can make some of those decisions. Bruna I don’t know if you would add to that.

Bruna: No, I think you covered it.

Sean: I know there’s going to be a dozen more questions and so I’m going to take the privilege of making an offer on y’all’s behalf which is you’re going to be with us for the next couple days so if folks reach out to you in Slack is it cool if they ask questions come with questions?

Bruna: Definitely

Sean: All right Bruna I’m going to hand it to you to take us home and then I’m going to be back a quick minute just to get everybody where they need to go next. Thank you both.

Bruna: Thank you so much Sean. We loved spending this time with you celebrating our win and sharing our communication strategies and lessons from the Home is Here campaign. But the reality is that our fight is not over. Republican politicians continue to attack the DACA program. Just this Summer Texas Judge Hanen ruled to end DACA as we know it, keeping immigrant youth from applying to DACA for the first time. Our legal fight to protect DACA continues and the truth is that we might end up at the Supreme Court again. At the same time, United We Dream is leading our undeniable campaign to demand that Democrats in congress deliver citizenship for millions of people including DACA recipients through their reconciliation package or better known as the Build Back Better Act. DACA for us has always been the floor not the ceiling. Undocumented people like José and I deserve a pathway to citizenship at United We Dream. We believe that our liberation is tied to one another so while many of us continue to be denied basic human rights by our government, this cannot be a true Democracy. We need you, the ones of you who have been listening to us for this last hour, we need you to join us in our fight to deliver citizenship this year. Join us on Twitter at UWD action or at United We Dream to make calls to democrats to deliver citizenship no matter what. Thank you all again we hope you enjoyed our case study have a great have a great rest of your day here at ComNet.

Sean: Well a huge thanks to you both we are incredibly grateful and honored to count you among the winners of the Clarence B. Jones award. You are now joining the Truth Initiative, Florida Rights Restoration coalition and a Step Ahead Chattanooga who have all done extraordinary work and our goal through this award, which has been provided to us support from the Heinz Endowment, the goal is pretty simple. We want to keep lifting up stories of communications work that has had profound impact and help to reshape narratives help to change our culture help to shift policies. It’s really important we have that so that all the folks working in the social sector understand how powerful a lever communications can be to deliver change. So with that, huge gratitude to both Bruna and José and all of the folks involved in United We Dream and I’m still marveling at the idea that it’s the two of you who sit inside the comms shop.


* indicates required

Join The Network

Community, learning, and leadership to help you do good, better.

Become a member