Yaneiza Echezarraga is co-founder of Twin Minds Media.
The Hispanic or Latino population grew from 16.3% of the U.S. population in 2010 to 18.7% in 2020.
Brands seeking to engage with the Hispanic or Latino community have a growing number of opportunities to show up authentically as partners and advocates. However, to do so, they also must gain a clear understanding of the challenges ahead and create a strategic plan that accurately reflects the reality of today’s youngest and most digitally engaged demographic cohort.
Challenge #1: Fragmented and unstable media landscape
The Hispanic media landscape, which years ago saw a season of growth and expansion, has been tremendously affected by industry-wide budget cuts and business restructuring due to mergers and acquisitions. The latest and most notable casualty was People en Español’s print magazine, which announced its closure last year. What was dubbed “the most trusted voice in Hispanic culture” and became a staple across thousands of Hispanic households in the country ended its print edition after 25 years.
Smaller local publications, which make up the majority of Latino news outlets, face the same dilemma as the big media companies: how to stay afloat amidst decreased ad spending and changing media consumption habits.
The main challenge facing Hispanic PR and marketing is not only a considerably smaller traditional media landscape but the instability and volatility of the industry. When staff members are constantly shuffled from one beat or outlet to the next, it can be harder to make lasting connections, and securing earned media coverage becomes extremely competitive.
Opportunity: Build a new set of media connections
Resourceful PR pros are leaning into the digital opportunities that currently abound, from livestreams and newsletters to podcasts and influencer collaborations. While Latino print newspapers and magazines have seen a steep decline in readership since 2011, Latino podcast audiences, for example, grew 44% between 2020 and 2021.
Streaming platforms are also seeing significant growth. According to Nielsen, in July 2022 alone, Latinos streamed 33.5 billion minutes of video each week. New Spanish-language platforms like TelevisaUnivision’s ViX provide an alternative to traditional television networks for PR pros to secure earned media exposure.
Then, of course, we have the metaverse and Web3 space and its tremendous growth potential. Hispanics over-index on interest in using the metaverse. In a survey conducted last year, 52% of Hispanic adults stated they were interested in using the metaverse. Think about virtual brand events, VR media tours, virtual product placements or sponsored content collaborations with NFT artists as some of the ways to dip your toes in the metaverse experience.
Brands that start incorporating Web3 and new media into their PR strategy in bigger and bolder ways can capitalize on this opportunity to get in front of the Hispanic audience on new and emerging digital platforms before everyone’s doing it.
Challenge #2: Inconsistency and lack of brand commitment
Although many brands consider Hispanic marketing important, they often treat it as an afterthought, and their budgets reflect that. According to the Hispanic Marketing Council, only 6% of overall industry investment is spent toward the Hispanic community.
When a recession looms, or financial uncertainty is in the offing, multicultural marketing and outreach programs are often the first to go. This is a problem because by cutting Hispanic marketing efforts in particular, brands are diluting their opportunities to connect with an audience with $1.7 trillion in buying power and one that’s rising into affluence faster than any other demographic.
Hispanic marketing budgets often do not reflect the level of commitment organizations publicly express toward a more diverse and inclusive future, nor do they realistically adjust to today’s media consumption patterns and eroding consumer trust.
To effectively communicate with Hispanic audiences, a surround sound PR strategy must leverage traditional and digital PR alongside content and influencer marketing. However, budgets dedicated to the U.S. Hispanic market are usually insufficient to cover all relevant consumer touchpoints, leaving PR pros with a limited toolkit and scarce resources.
Opportunity: Tie multicultural marketing and PR to other company initiatives
Diversity, equity, and inclusion have become top of mind for HR practitioners and company executives. They should be at the forefront of PR and marketing efforts, too, because they affect the way consumers perceive brands and how loyal they are.
- 61% of consumers want to see more diversity in marketing efforts.
- 83% of millennials feel it’s crucial that the brands they support align with their values.
- The percentage of people who prefer to buy from companies with a reputation for purpose as well as profit increased 10 points from 2019 to 64%, while more than half (53%) will pay more for brands that take stands.
Consumers’ expectations of brands are increasingly driven by social conscience, and public relations must evolve and adjust accordingly. Does your brand’s PR strategy fully align with your greater overarching DEI goals in a way that is genuine, cohesive, and simple to understand?
Brands that want to genuinely connect with the Hispanic community have a golden opportunity to take a stand as advocates for diverse and inclusive communication. By including multicultural communications professionals, influencers, and community representatives in these efforts, brands can share their DEI initiatives, gain an outside perspective, and ensure they’re not functioning in a bubble.
Challenge #3: Outdated and culturally myopic view of Hispanic PR
Too few brands treat Hispanic PR as its own program. There’s still a tendency, especially when navigating tight budgets, to want to adapt general market strategies and tactics to the Hispanic market or to activate one-off campaigns during key moments in time such as Cinco de Mayo or Day of the Dead and then call it good for the rest of the year.
This approach is problematic in many ways; however, one of the top issues is that it reflects a need for more understanding of our diverse community’s cultural, social, and political nuances. Marketing and PR efforts based on this one-size-fits-all mentality are culturally narrow-minded at best and insulting at worst.
Mexican Americans, for example, have different cultural traditions, sociopolitical realities, and life experiences than Cuban Americans, Colombian Americans or Salvadoran Americans. There are also marked generational divides and differences in levels and attitudes toward acculturation, language use, and ethnic identity.
By reducing our vibrant, unique communities to one group, brands lose the opportunity to create true connections with individual sectors as they learn about and address their needs.
Opportunity: Closer, more intimate connections through social media
Brands looking to engage Hispanic consumers need to move away from the superficial, cookie-cutter campaign approach and devise a year-round Hispanic PR program that is culturally relevant and meets Hispanics where they are.
Social media outreach through PR and influencer marketing can help brands bridge the gap between well-intended strategies and PR activations that have a lasting impact. After all, Hispanics over-index on social networks and are more likely to use social media as a trusted source of news and information. Two of the most popular platforms are TikTok, with one in five adult TikTok users being Hispanic, and YouTube, where Latinos spend 57% more time than non-Hispanic whites.
On the influencer front, about six-in-10 Hispanic social media users (59%) say they follow influencers or content creators on social media. Hispanics are also more likely than white users to say they have purchased something after seeing an influencer’s post.
By working with engaged Hispanic influencers, brands can share their stories through the lens of creative content creators who deeply know their communities. These influencers have gained the trust of their audiences and understand their nuances and cultural differences very well. The brands they work with benefit from their efforts in cultivating an intimate understanding of their audiences, which can also inform other PR and marketing efforts for the organization.
Progress has been made when it comes to brands understanding the importance of reaching the Hispanic community in authentic ways. However, as the Hispanic and overall multicultural audience continues to grow, it will also continue to change.
In 2023, consumers are ready to see which brands will walk the talk. Does DEI matter to you? Are the actions taken inside your organization aligned with your DEI mission? Is your internal and external communication congruent with your DEI mission? What are you doing about it beyond a one-off Hispanic PR campaign?
Shifting efforts amid today’s speed of change requires a proactive understanding of the forces that affect Hispanic PR and marketing; the ability to diligently monitor and incorporate adjustments into brand strategy; and the dedication to keep evolving alongside changes in the market.