Apparently, there’s no better time to market to Hispanic consumers in the United States than right now. That’s according to a recent article in Adweek’s “Marketing y Medios,” entitled, “The General Market is Tanking? No problema.”

The primary arguments in support of this assertion: The Hispanic population is still growing – projected to reach 43.4 million next year – and the media targeting Hispanics are cheaper than “traditional” outlets.

While many mainstream media outlets – and the economy in general – are conducting massive layoffs due to budget cuts and decreased consumption, Hispanic marketing executives are staying calm because their market is located somewhere outside of the chaos.

According to the article, the categories that are still going strong are primarily nondiscretionary: wireless, food and cars; three things that are of essential value. In fact, the Hispanic car-buying market has grown by 59%, while the non-Hispanic market has decreased by 32%. Those are some pretty telling numbers.

A statistic cited in the article, provided by Nielsen Monitor-Plus, showed that as of June of this year, spending across all Spanish-language media had increased by 1.5% over the same period last year. Now compare that number to a 1.4% decrease for the same period in the general market.

Where many clients – especially domestic automakers and financial institutions – are slashing advertising budgets, others are choosing to invest more in their marketing efforts, essentially balancing the books. However, this doesn’t mean that agencies are immune to the effects of the economy.

But, as with most other markets, it is difficult to project beyond the fourth quarter of this year. Among possible factors contributing to a decline similar to that of the general economy: the results of the election.

According to the article, because budgets at Hispanic marketing agencies are much smaller, the impact of a significant change in the current market will be felt much sooner. However, Hector Orci, CEO of La Agencia de Orci in Los Angeles, said, “ Being Hispanic means you’re optimistic.”

Perhaps the mainstream media can learn a thing or two from this example.


img_2513.jpgI‘m not going to lie; I’m still a social media neophyte. Until recently, I had never heard of a social media news release, and had in fact been afraid to be that guy in class who brings up blogging as a PR tactic because the idea of social media seemed daunting.

That’s all changing. And not just for me.

Not only are social media revolutionizing communications technologies, they are also incorporating multicultural marketing in new ways and with different objectives than traditional media. According to an article in the March 24 issue of PR Week, MultiVu is creating a social media news release, the Interactivo Multimedia News Release (IMNR), that targets the U.S. Latino population.

According to its Web site, MultiVu, a PR Newswire company, “uses the latest technologies and the vast distribution resources of PR Newswire” to “provide unsurpassed broadcast and multimedia production and global distribution services to organizations that want to reach the media, financial community, general public and other key audiences with their visual and audio messages.”

The article states that, “IMNR offers distribution of broadcast content, photos, and text to Hispanic social networks and news sites. […] And IMNR content will appear in Spanish on the Reuters billboard in Manhattan’s Times Square.”

It will be interesting to see how effective these tactics will be in reaching the American Latino population; however, I think social media are being proved effective tools of modern communication. Only time can really tell.

img_2186.jpgRecently, Elena del Valle of the Hispanic Marketing and Public Relations Web site conducted a podcast interview with Laura Hernandez, executive director of AT&T Multicultural Marketing. The interview covered AT&T’s efforts to reach American Latinos.

According to Hernandez, AT&T breaks up its messaging by concentrating in areas with large Hispanic populations as well as direct mailing areas where there is a smaller Hispanic presence. According to Hernandez, the method used depends on the type of media tactics employed.

Although she says that segmenting based on language is not always the right choice, Hernandez states that AT&T works to target different segments of the Latino population, i.e., those who are Spanish-dominant and those who are English-dominant. Language and cultural representations may change, but the messages are the same across all tactics.

Hernandez says there are also different representations of the technology, e.g., organizational capabilities and speed are emphasized more in messages targeted to Latinos. She adds that Latinos do not use broadband and other technologies as much as other populations; however, when they access the new technology, they use it at a greater rate.

Hernandez also said that AT&T has offered Spanish-language customer care for more than 25 years.

I think this is a great example of a company that has done its research and knows the audience it is targeting. Many organizations try to reach out to Latinos by translating everything into Spanish; this in turn affects the relevance of the cultural message.

Marketing and public relations practitioners are finally taking note of effective tactics for communicating with the multitude populations that exist in this country, and it’s benefiting the industry as a whole.

We can learn a lot from the AT&T method. It’s not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction.

img_2375.jpgI decided to write this blog because I am interested in working for an agency that specializes in full-service public relations and marketing to Latinos. Although I initially thought this would be very limiting, it is in fact quite the opposite.

Latinos are everywhere and the population is only getting bigger – and that means the demand for culturally appropriate communications is increasing as well.

Cities with historically large and vibrant Latino communities, e.g., Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, etc., are no longer the only markets to consider. And, although large public relations agencies are slow to move into some of these markets – Phoenix comes to mind as a great example – that doesn’t mean that things won’t change.

During the last three months, I have agonized over the direction I want my life to take after college. I have an offer to move to New York City (albeit without a job), but I feel an inescapable connection to my roots in the West Coast.

I know that I can do what I want no matter where I go, but I need to want to be there to be successful.

Then again, maybe I just want to live in a city with a Spanish name.

n712418437_101206_2195.jpgA new word has come to define the habits of Latino youth (and youth in general) in the United States: intraculturalism.

According to an article originally published on and republished on the Hispanic Public Relations Association Web site, “intraculturalism is a fluid process of identity formation that continually borrows from a diversity of traditions and attitudes.” It defines the ease with which American youths adopt and adapt aspects of a diversity of cultures into their identities.

The report comes on the heels of and in response to a groundbreaking study by Cheskin, a consultancy that drives innovation through its understanding of culture. “Nuestro Futuro: Hispanic Teens In Their Own Words” is the title of the report that asserts, “As a dominant trend among American teens, […] intraculturalism is bound to shape this country’s future cultural landscape.”

The study details the importance of three major themes in communicating with today’s youth:

The multiple levels of teen and ethnic complexity that define their self identity;

the influence they wield at home and in their external networks;

and their optimism expressed through their ambition and vitality.

I believe that intraculturalism will become the guiding influence on the practice of public relations in coming generations. Communications strategists are very skilled at segmenting populations into individual audiences; however, there is now a greater need to understand the confluence of identities and how it can affect key messages.

There is still a lot of research that needs to be done on this topic, but there is already great work like the study by Cheskin that can guide future efforts. Although trends are not reliable indicators of long-term behaviors, I believe that intraculturalism goes beyond a trend and defines the course of modern communications.

It will be exciting to see how the public relations world responds.

img_2557.jpgLast week, AOL launched in Mexico. According to Maneesh Dhir, executive vice president of AOL International, “Mexico is an important market in the Latin American region,” and AOL is committed to meeting the needs of Mexican online consumers.

Partnering with Alestra for distribution and Grupo Editorial Expansion for content, AOL is taking the right approach by offering its services, which are familiar to many Americans, with a localized identity. AOL is also working with Hewlett-Packard Co. to develop a co-branded local portal as part of their global partnership.

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, Mexico is the 17th of 30 proposed markets into which AOL will be expanding this year. The article also says that much of the motivation to expand into foreign markets is because AOL is losing subscribers at home.

Although AOL’s expansion isn’t unique to Mexico, if they market it properly it could have significant repercussions in the U.S., where many families communicate with relatives in Mexico. This could potentially change AOL’s fortune (no pun intended) domestically.

With services like free e-mail and instant messaging, AOL offers a variety of communication options for people who need to communicate with family and friends living abroad.

Developing this message will be a challenge, but I think it could be AOL’s greatest chance at success in Mexico and other markets in Latin America. If AOL does this right, it has everything to gain and little to lose.

img_2183.jpg“Spanglish” is no longer just an Adam Sandler movie or increasingly legitimate language in the United States. Spanish-language television giant Telemundo is creating a lot of buzz in the entertainment industry because it recently introduced a talk show that blends Spanish and English in a way that is familiar to audiences.

“Más Vale Tarde” (Better Late) is the name of the show, and it’s going where no program has gone before.

Although it has been the butt of many a joke by those who don’t understand its significance, “Spanglish” is a reflection of the bicultural nature of many parts of the country. Nobody knows this better than the Latino media, and now they are presenting material that crosses the language border and makes content a little more accessible where programming is usually Spanish- or English-only.

It seems that the experiment is paying off, as viewership has reached nearly 200,ooo in the 18 – 49-year-old demographic. It airs at 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, but the network is looking to change that before the end of the year.

What public relations practitioners can learn from the success of this program is pretty significant: Spanish and English can work together to craft relevant messages. Creating a PSA featuring a spokesperson who uses “Spanglish” could be a great tactic with a broader range than traditional single-language materials. However, knowing when and how to use “Spanglish” is a skill that should not be ignored. If the tactic isn’t used properly, how can it be effective?

I have seen the show and really enjoyed it. I speak English and Spanish and, although I didn’t grow up in a bilingual household, I have a lot of friends who did, and I know the relevance of “Spanglish” within Hispanic families and communities.

This information is based on a recent New York Times article. If you’re interested in checking out “Más Vale Tarde” for yourself, reruns are available here.

img_2577.jpgThe Nielsen Company – the one that brings us television ratings – has released a new report on consumers’ preparedness to switch to digital when it becomes the only television format next year.

On Feb. 18, 2009, what is being hailed as the most significant development in television history will take place when the medium will become all-digital. And according to Nielsen’s report, 13 million households are unprepared for the change. Cable and satellite owners are safe; so are people who own digital consoles; however, anyone with an analog-only set will need to purchase a converter if they wish to watch their stories.

What’s significant about these findings is that they show a higher lack of preparedness in Hispanic and Black households. The data show that 17.3 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population is completely unprepared, and 26.2 percent have at least one television set that will be affected.

What does this mean for public relations practitioners and advertisers who want to reach the Hispanic market? They may have to reinvent the wheel (again).

According to Advertising Age’s 2007 Hispanic Fact Pack, in 2006, approximately $2.42 billion (or 64.3 percent of total ad spending in Latino markets) was spent on television marketing. The next largest medium in terms of ad spending in Latino markets was radio, which accounted for $726 million (or 19.3 percent) in 2006.

If the majority of ad spending directed at the Latino community is spent on television, and Latino consumers across the country are unprepared for the change to an all-digital format, it will be difficult for marketers to reach their target audience.

Strategies and tactics will have to be rethought, and this may be the opportunity for public relations practitioners to utilize social media to make a legitimate impact on Latino consumers.

Perhaps things will change before Feb. 18, 2009, but how? It would benefit the people who want to reach the Latino community with their messages to address this situation proactively.

img_2424.jpgThat’s right: Facebook is now available in Spanish. At the login screen, there is now a button in the top right corner of the page where you can select English or Spanish as your preferred language.

Facebook describes itself in Spanish as “una herramienta social que te conecta con gente a tu alrededor.” This is a faithful translation of the English description that says, “Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you.”

Reading the Facebook blog, I found some interesting information on how the creators of the site developed the new page to accurately represent the Spanish language.

In a move reminiscent of Wikipedia, Facebook allowed users to translate parts of copy found on the site and then had users vote on which ones they thought were best through an alternate version of the site.

It then hired professional translators to do the same work, editing and refining the “strings,” as well as developing resources like glossaries and style guides. However, the users completed translating all of the “strings” in under a week.

According to the Facebook blog, “We’ve found that Facebook users are incredibly passionate about finding just the right wording to express Facebook in their own language.”

I must applaud Facebook’s choice to utilize the skills of its users to develop content. As more social media make their services accessible to speakers of other languages, I hope that they will employ similar tactics to get the highest quality results.

Facebook is setting a great example of what will be happening for many companies in the future, and of how to do it right.

More translations are on their way, with the next being French and German.

img_2388.jpgAccording to an article featured in Adweek’s Marketing y Medios, a recent study entitled “U.S. Population Projections: 2005 – 2050,” conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center, states that the U.S. Latino population will triple to approximately 128 million, or roughly 29 percent of the total population, by the year 2050.

During the same period, the Latino population is expected to account for 60 percent of the nation’s total population growth. In the year 2025, the immigrant population is expected to exceed that of the last great wave of the early 20th century at roughly 19 percent.

This has huge implications for the direction of communications in this country. In another Adweek article, author Mike Valdes-Fauli uses this information to discuss its relevance for crisis communications and the inclusion of Latino audiences. He says that Latinos make up the largest ethnic minority in the U.S., with a younger median age of 27.4 years (compared to 36.4 in the general population).

In response to current efforts to communicate with Latinos being made by CEOs and crisis communications specialists, he writes: “Companies as varied as toy manufacturers and airlines have had recent communications challenges, and most of them successfully executed the bare minimum in communicating with Hispanic consumers: translating releases and statements to reach Latino media outlets. However, so much more could have — and should have — been done.”

To address the particular concerns of cross-cultural communication, Valdes-Fauli outlines the following guidelines:

1) Remember emotion resonates: Present a more heartfelt tone.

2) Adapt, don’t translate: Many nuances get lost or lack clarity in direct translations.

3) Think new consumer, old school tactics: Many Hispanic media have been slow to adopt new technologies.

4) Find the Hispanic angle: Why is the issue relevant to Hispanic audiences?

5) Respect cultural differences: Not everyone who speaks Spanish is from Mexico.

He ends with these words of wisdom: “Even though crisis is spelled the same in English as in Spanish, the word has different implications and attributes in each culture.”

Communications are changing a lot on this country, and it’s important for public relations practitioners and advertisers to educate themselves as to how they can most effectively reach their consumers. Whether it’s a crisis or general day-to-day communications, knowing the best ways to communicate with Latino consumers and having the ability to put that knowledge to use are great skills that every company should have.

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