The U.S. Hispanic population reached a record 59.9 million in 2018, up 1.2 million over the previous year, according to the Census Bureau. Hispanics accounted for about half of U.S. population growth over the last decade. Although the rate of Hispanic population growth has slowed recently, the number of Hispanics in this country will likely continue to gradually increase.
Aided by those demographic trends, media outlets serving Hispanics have become a powerful consideration 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.
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?” phrase translates to a double entendre for lactating women.
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 will produce far better results.
Appreciate that the Hispanic market in the U.S. is diverse. Hispanics originate from more than 20 countries with different cultural traditions, dialects and customs. 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.
Create strategies that are hyperlocal, advises the Balcom Agency. Market size, purchasing power, age, acculturation and consumption channels differ depending on geography. The top Hispanic markets currently include Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago.
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 Terra.com, a Latino market web portal, del Valle notes. Also follow standard media relations best practices for sending media pitches, preparing 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 television, radio 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.
Some more 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, now a major factor in the American media landscape. Special PR skills needed to develop healthy relationships with those outlets are in higher demand.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.