Panasonic's Alberto Canal on 'using the hell out of' his Hispanic background

Canal spoke at Museum of PR's Celebration of Latino PR History.

Alberto Canal, center, speaking at a Museum of PR event.
Alberto Canal, center, speaking at a Museum of PR event.

NEW YORK: Sometimes, being the minority in the room is an advantage, according to Panasonic’s VP of strategic communications Alberto Canal. 

While speaking during the first of two panel discussions at the Museum of PR’s third annual Celebration of Latino PR History held in New York Thursday, Canal described how his Hispanic background gave him an edge early in his career. 

"Being Hispanic, and being from the [Hispanic] community, knowing without having to look at a map where a particular neighborhood was, knowing where particular groups would hang out, that was my advantage," he said. "And I used the hell out of it when I was a young reporter."

But later, Canal said, his Hispanic background allowed him to become an agent of change, guiding clients and coworkers and explaining the care comms pros must use when addressing diverse audiences. 

"It was [like] holding up a mirror to folks and saying, ‘You may think you’re saying this, you may want to say this, you may mean this, but here is what this audience is hearing,’" Canal said. "And that’s been a very helpful thing in my career to be able to use, particularly in corporate America, to help change the conversation and really help whoever my client is to tell a better story."

The event’s keynote speaker, the League of United Latin American Citizens’ CEO Sindy Benavides, started the evening with a description of the civil rights challenges currently faced by Latinos under the current administration.

Benavides pointed out that advocacy work done by groups like her own requires the same skills PR pros use daily.

"We become greater advocates by building relationships," she explained. "Similarly, in PR, one builds and maintains mutually beneficial relationships. What links us is collaboration, communication and relationships. Each one of us must always think of who is not in the room." 

The event was sponsored by the Hispanic Public Relations Association, Talkwalker, California State University Fullerton, Finn Partners, Aflac, Page, Ketchum, NYU School of Professional Studies, BronxNet, Lehman College CUNY, and University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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