Archive for March, 2008

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 HispanicAd.com 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.