Media pitches to Hispanic media outles

An interview with Telemundo. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Hispanic population reached a record 60.6 million in 2019, up from 50.7 million in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Hispanics now represent 18% of the nation’s population and are the second largest ethnic or racial group after white non-Hispanics. Although the rate of Hispanic population growth has slowed recently, the number of Hispanics in this country will likely continue to increase.

Aided by those demographic trends, media outlets serving Hispanics have become a powerful channel for public relations. The outlets often earn better ratings and outperform English-language counterparts in major markets, and Hispanics often consider them more credible and fairer than mainstream options.

Pitfalls of Translation

Simply translating press releases and media statements into Spanish is dreadfully inadequate, warn PR pros who specialize in Hispanic media. Risks of malapropisms, poor syntax and unintended double entendres abound. An airline once promoted its new business-class leather seats by inviting passengers to fly “en cuero,” not realizing the term means naked in colloquial Spanish, recounts Rosemary Ravinal, founder and chief trainer at RMR Communications Consulting.

The classic “Got milk?” advertising headline translates to a double entendre for lactating women.

Spanish spoken in the US is influenced by more than 20 countries with different variations and dialects. Google Translate or Alexa will fall short. A literal translation will lead to poor syntax, missing special characters, and even unintended double meanings, says Raisa Acloque, media relations specialist at Business Wire.

Instead of literal translation, use transcreation, the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone, and context, she urges. Consider a neutral language that caters to each market accordingly so that it’s compatible with their slang.

Vital Elements of Hispanic Media PR

Spanish-speaking skills alone are not sufficient qualification for a competent media spokesperson. Understanding cultural differences is essential for successful media relations with Hispanic media outlets. Brands often treat the Hispanic market as an add-on to their main campaign. Creating custom content and targeting the right media produces far better results.

Appreciate that the Hispanic market in the U.S. is diverse. While many call themselves Hispanic or Latino, according to Pew Research, many identify themselves by their family’s country of origin, using terms such as Mexican, Cuban, or Salvadoran, and some most often call themselves American.

In addition, Hispanic media outlets in the U.S. differ from media outlets in Latin America.

Media relations practices also differ. Spanish-language interviews tend to be more polite and longer in format. Email is not the dominant communications platform as it is for mainstream journalists. “Though it might seem unorthodox, pitching through social media and text messaging is not uncommon for Hispanic outlets,” says Jon Salas, a publicist and multicultural strategist.

An important point: The media interview for Hispanic news sources may be conducted in English, notes Elena del Valle, an expert on Hispanic media training. Some outlets serving Hispanics are in English or both English and Spanish. Many Hispanics prefer to speak in English or speak only English.

Connecting with Hispanic media rests heavily on nurturing and maintaining personal relationships, explains Acloque. Formality and politeness are key. When sending a pitch in writing, open with a greeting, introduce yourself, explain the reason for your message, and conclude by thanking them for their consideration. Provide plenty of information – the more, the better.

Create strategies that are hyperlocal, advises the Balcom Agency. Market size, purchasing power, age, acculturation and consumption channels differ depending on geography. Counties with largest Hispanic populations include Los Angeles County in California, Harris County in Texas, Miami-Dade County in Florida, and Maricopa County in Arizona.

Follow the standard best practices for researching media outlets. Major Hispanic media outlets include Univision, with its TV, radio, cable and online coverage; Telemundo, the second largest TV network; El Nuevo Herald in Miami, one of the largest Spanish language newspapers in the country; and, a Latino market web portal, del Valle notes. Also follow standard media relations best practices for sending media pitchespreparing for interviews and responding to journalists’ questions.

Comprehensive and ongoing media monitoring and measurement is essential. It’s crucial to seek a tool that can monitor broadcast televisionradio news and social media, as Hispanics tend to use those channels heavily. A subscription tool that can customize its service to meet your needs can offer the most affordable solution.

Other valuable recommendations:

  • Have a Hispanic angle to the story.
  • Be cautious with humor and sarcasm that might get lost in translation or could offend.
  • Consider consulting a Hispanic market expert and/or a Latino media relations coach.
  • Provide the journalist with detailed written information in Spanish to ensure accuracy.

“Though English is the main language of the business world, one cannot assume that a reporter speaks or writes it with proficiency,” Ravinal explains.

Bottom Line: Many brands cannot afford to ignore Hispanic media outlets in the US. They are now a major factor in the American media landscape. Special PR skills are needed to develop healthy relationships with those outlets are in high demand.

This article was first published on Aug. 9, 2019, and updated on Nov. 16, 2020.

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