img_2332.jpgThis term, I am a party to the fun that is public relations campaigns, the capstone course for the public relations sequence in the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

In addition to the already intense curriculum, I am participating in the PRSSA-sponsored Bateman Case Study Campaign Competition. It’s an excellent opportunity to utilize the skills we have acquired in the public relations sequence, and to see what other students around the country are doing.

Our client is Safe Kids Worldwide, who partners with General Motors (GM) to bring us the Safe Kids Buckle Up program. The focus of our campaign is to create awareness of the program and GM’s efforts to keep drivers and passengers safe, as well as to reinforce already existing safe behavior.

One of our goals is to execute an effective community relations campaign in the local Latino community.

I will be coming back to the issue of language rather frequently in this blog because it is an issue. Although there is a perceived need for native Spanish speakers in this country to learn English, many people do not have access to the necessary resources to do so.

For this reason, we are creating materials to address the important topic of automobile safety among native Spanish speakers who may not speak English or whose knowledge of the language is limited. I am excited to see how our audiences react to these efforts.

Not only is this is the first opportunity for me to explore a topic that I am interested in working on in the future, but I will also get to work toward positive change in the community. And that’s what can make public relations so exciting, challenging and rewarding.

img_2235.jpgIn case you’ve been living on a deserted island and had no access to media of any kind, 2008 is an election year. In fact, it’s shaping up to be one of the most important elections in national history, with a Black man and a woman coming out as the early favorites for the Democratic party.

But what would an election year be without the darlings of pundits across the country: wedge issues. An issue is by definition controversial, and a wedge issue takes it to the next level. They are so polemic that they are able to mobilize thousands (even millions) of voters who otherwise might be disengaged from the political process. However, wedge issues tend to be an example of trendy politics that often lose momentum after a campaign season.

This year, one of the huge issues being addressed by all of the candidates is immigration. According to a piece on the New York Times blog, roughly 30 percent of Democrats in California who participated in the Super Tuesday primary there identified themselves as Latino. Although Latinos are not the only voters who care about immigration, their votes could sway the election in many states where they represent a large voting bloc, such as Texas, California and Florida.

The article goes on to state, however, that in many of yesterday’s primaries, when exit polls about important issues were conducted, Democrats were not given immigration as an option. Republicans were. Is this an issue that only Republicans care about, even though a larger percentage of Latino voters identify as Democrats?

Reaching out to Latino voters is becoming more important because of the implied connection to immigration – thus solidifying its status as a wedge issue.

What’s important for the candidates to realize is that true commitment to the Latino constituency goes beyond the immigration debate and requires an understanding of the community. Research is the first step in any successful campaign, and this is a time when comprehensive primary methods should be used for the benefit of all involved.

img_2300.jpg According to a recent article in Brandweek, Pepsi is throwing some huge private parties for young Latinos, scheduled to coincide with major media events like the Latin Grammys. The event is seen as a way to interact with young Latino consumers in a relevant way. But will this campaign be effective?

Called the “Blue Carpet Bash,” it will target 18 to 34 year olds, the most sought after market segment for many companies. In 2006, Pepsi spent $950 million on advertising to Latinos. With figures like these, it’s no wonder that Pepsi is ranked among the top ten advertisers to the Hispanic market each year by Advertising Age.

Microsoft is also rumored to be in talks regarding advertising at the event.

I think this event, if executed successfully, could be a huge opportunity for Pepsi, as well as a model for other companies who heavily market to the Latino community. By targeting young consumers, Pepsi is creating brand awareness among people who will be increasing their spending power and having kids in the coming years.

This event will really serve as the model for future efforts to market to Latino youth. The potential to create change in the industry as a result of this campaign is great, and I think it’s coming at the perfect time culturally. We in the U.S. are at a point where our national identity is shifting in noticeable ways and, by making efforts to change, corporate America is leading the way in tackling some tough issues.

It will be interesting to see where this goes, and if the Blue Carpet will replace the red carpet in the minds of young Latinos in the U.S.

Freedom As my first official blog post, I thought it would be appropriate to draw from the source of this page’s name: Late last year there was a New York Times Magazine article called “How Do You Say ‘Got Milk’ en Español?” in which the rise of agencies specifically marketing to the growing U.S. Latino community was examined.

According to the article, the Latino consumer can be put into one of three categories: learner, straddler and navigator. These classifications refer to the preferred language of the consumer (Spanish or English), age and level of education, among other characteristics. These classifications say a lot about the consumers, but also comment on the changing nature of communications in the U.S. and how a bilingual approach can be more effective than traditional English language-only campaigns.

The following may come as a shock, but in the U.S. there is no official language. And although English has become the dominant language for the majority of the country, there is a demonstrated need for Spanish-language services in many areas. In Los Angeles, for example, in 2000 46.5 percent of the population was Hispanic, compared to 29.75 percent Caucasian (ERsys).

But what does this have to do with public relations?

Although the article primarily focuses on the use of understanding the stratification of the Latino population as it relates to advertising, there are significant implications for public relations as well, especially if it is part of a comprehensive marketing plan. The important thing to take away is that there is no one Latino consumer; however, there is a clear need to address these consumers in language they can understand, which is often not English.

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

n11500223_33604073_45032.jpgBienvenidos and welcome to my blog. Here I will examine current trends and events in public relations that affect the Latino community.

This is something that I would like to do in my professional career, so I’m using this avenue to explore the complexity of the subject and how to approach it in a relevant way. The discussion may at times be uncomfortable or challenging, but as they say, what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.

Last year Ogilvy published a manual called “The 25 Basic Styles of Blogging … And When To Use Each One,” a guide to the world of blogging and how to approach it. According to the descriptions, this blog falls into the “insight” category – which is described by many as the most difficult to write.

I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge, so let’s get this show on the road. ¡Provecho!

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