Sarah Baker | The Innovator 25 North America 2019

Sarah Baker 

Senior Director of Social Media and Distributed Digital Organizing 

Everytown for Gun Safety 
New York 

“Remember that you won’t find innovative solutions if you’re constantly consulting with the same people.”

As a digital specialist, as well as a champion of ending gun violence, Sarah Baker is a driving force behind Everytown for Gun Safety’s success in bolstering its mission.  Leveraging social media, and the time-honored peer-to-peer communications, Baker creatively uses social and digital platforms to rally individuals to support the organization in its fight for tougher gun laws through action, including volunteering. Baker’s efforts have resulted in registering voters via SMS and Instagram campaigns that facilitate residents contacting their legislators about gun laws. That kind of digital communication has played a major role in this organization’s recent successes during the past year such as rallies, legal efforts and its #WearOrange campaign, supported by six million Americans who have joined the cause.

In what way(s) does PR/communications need to innovate the most?
Elevating diverse voices

How would you describe the communications/PR industry's level of innovation compared to other marketing disciplines?
More innovative then other marketing disciplines

Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation?
Industry diversity and equal pay

How do you define innovation?
Strategic tweaks for deliberate change

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
Around the 2018 midterm elections, there was an explosion of peer-to-peer communications tools, like voter chat bots, that enabled civic groups to get personalized information into the hands of likely voters and ultimately increase voter participation.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
Banter, a firm founded by SMS experts that is laser focused on using interactive micro-content in new, creative ways

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider innovative.
In the summer of 2018, we learned that blueprint files to 3-D print gun components were about to be deregulated. I worked with the team at Everytown to message the danger of “downloadable guns” and strategically use the tools at our disposal — everything from SMS to Instagram stories — to rapidly drive more than 100k phone calls and messages to the State Department from concerned citizens. The best part is that the pressure worked, and we were able to halt the distribution of the files.

Most underrated trait in a PR person? 
Being a good listener

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
I like to do something totally unrelated to the project I’m working on, like take a walk to the New York Public Library and look at the books in the map room.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Remember that you won’t find innovative solutions if you’re constantly consulting with the same people. Forge meaningful relationships with colleagues who have backgrounds and life experiences that are different from your own and learn from how they see the world.

What one movie, book, TV show or podcast do you recommend someone rent, read or stream tonight?
Definitely read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.