• Ben Finzel

The Common Sense Colloquy: Q&A with Candace Hamana of the Indigenous Peoples Public Relations Assoc.

As a founding member of The Change Agencies, the first (and only) national network of independently owned and operated multicultural and LGBTQ PR firms, I am always interested in learning about new initiatives to increase diversity and representation in our industry. In November, I participated in the first-ever Native American PR roundtable event sponsored by the Museum of Public Relations. During this event, I was delighted to learn about the launch of the Indigenous Peoples Public Relations Association from the founder Candace Hamana.


As an industry, we have a long way to go to be more representative of the many cultures we serve. One glaring omission for decades has been our first nations, the Indigenous people who were the first inhabitants of this land. I can’t believe an association for Indigenous public relations practitioners didn’t already exist, but I’m so glad to hear it does now. While I didn’t know Candace, I reached out immediately to offer my congratulations and pledge my help to promote the existence of this new resource in our industry. I’m thrilled she readily accepted my invitation to join the conversation as a participant in the Common Sense Colloquy series to help spread the word about her efforts.


Candace is Hopi and the principal and owner of Badger PR, a boutique public relations firm in Phoenix, Arizona. She has more than a decade of communications experience and has expertise in media relations, digital communication strategies, community outreach and tribal relations for the public, private and government sectors.


Candace has provided media relations support to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, tribal stakeholder relations for the Central Arizona Project and was the vice chair of the Arizona Association for Economic Development Tribal Committee. She also served as a board member for the Phoenix Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and editorial board member with the Hopi Tutuveni, the official newspaper for the Hopi tribe in northern Arizona.


I’m looking forward to learning more about Candace, but I’m impressed already given what she’s done to bring together an impressive group of Indigenous PR professionals to form the Indigenous Peoples Public Relations Association.


My thanks to Candace for sharing her wisdom with us – and you.


Q: What is the story about the founding of the IPPRA? What led you to make the decision to bring Indigenous people in our industry together in this way?


A: The idea for IPPRA has long been a part of conversations had in the hallways at other Indigenous conferences for many years. I’ve attended the Native American Journalist Association (NAJA) conferences, the Reservation Economic Summits (RES), and most recently the first Tribal PR conference in Wisconsin that IPPRA board member, Collin Price, organized and hosted. While those conferences were great, the need for this organization became apparent with the onset of the pandemic. Among other Indigenous practitioners I know, the consensus has always been to develop culturally-cognizant communication strategies because our audiences and our stakeholders are unique. This is true if you work for a tribal government or if you work for a company that works with a tribe, there’s a nexus that needs to be taken into consideration.


Q: What challenges do Indigenous people in our industry face that maybe aren’t obvious to those of us from other cultures? How will IPPRA help Indigenous people address these challenges?


A: That’s a great question. Surprisingly, a lot of businesses aren’t aware or don’t understand that tribes have tribal sovereignty, which at its very basic premise means each tribal nation has their own system of self-governance, their own tribal laws and ordinances, and they operate very much like independent state and federal governments. One of the many challenges Indigenous practitioners face are being able to integrate awareness and knowledge around tribal ordinances into stakeholder communications and campaigns.


These laws in addition to the cultural complexities around each sovereign nation require temperance, reverence, and patience in their approach. The ability to build trust and develop authentic relationships with meaningful dialogue can’t be emphasized enough. IPPRA is going to provide a community where practitioners can share resources, case studies, training, webinars and career opportunities.


Q: What are your goals for IPPRA? How can others in the industry help you?


A: We announced the formation of IPPRA on November 11, 2021 – so we’re just over a month old. What we will want to accomplish in the first three months is to get our 501 (c)6 and start building a solid foundation for board operations, policy and process. We’ll also start applying for grant funding and build a fundraising model for seed money and ongoing expenses. Six months to a year out, we would like to have a member management platform where members can access online webinars, training materials, and resources. Others in the industry can help by sharing funding opportunities they’re aware of, directing us to any corporate philanthropy programs, or providing opportunities to share the story of IPPRA. Anyone interested in learning more can sign up to receive updates at https://www.theippra.org/contact-us


Q: What’s the best “common sense” advice about communications you’ve received?


A: Be confident in your unique talents and abilities - but always be willing to learn new skills.


Q: What’s the best “common sense” advice about communications you've given to others?


A: Work on increasing your emotional intelligence because it will make you a better decision-maker, a more effective problem-solver, and an impactful leader.




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