A friend recently forwarded me a news article touting a Spanish-language TV station as the top-rated outlet in Houston. It is a noteworthy milestone considering Houston is the 10th largest TV market in the country. It now joins Miami (No. 16), where the top rated TV station is also Spanish-language.
Another milestone is the prominence with which Hispanics are practicing politics. The demographic’s 12.2 million voters—a number projected to double by 2030—were a decisive factor, and many say the
decisive factor, in Barack Obama’s re-election. And don’t forget Latino buying power. Their spending of discretionary income recently surpassed $1 trillion annually and could include your company’s or clients’ products and services.
All of which leads us to Cinco de Mayo. The celebration of Mexico’s victory over French forces in the battle of Puebla—not Mexico’s independence from Spain—is just around the corner. It is as good a time as any to review or even add a U.S. Hispanic PR strategy to your 2014 public relations plan.
I don’t mean simply recycling your old press releases into Spanish. I’m talking about planning and executing some meaningful strategies that may help your company’s products and services earn
their way into the stable of brands that serve U.S. Hispanic families.
In that spirit, here are eight basic insights that could help inform your next U.S. Hispanic communications strategy:
1. Support the community.
Consider a community relations or corporate social responsibility campaign as your first foray into the Hispanic market. It is a great way to get to know the U.S. Hispanic audience and establish your company and brand as caring and concerned before trying something more promotional. Partnering with the local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is a terrific place to start when identifying a worthy cause or organization.
2. Se habla Español.
Reach out to Hispanics in Spanish. Many Hispanics are bilingual (51 percent), according to the Experian-Simmons National Hispanic Consumer Study. But when they hear a company advertise in Spanish, 57 percent say, “It makes me feel like they respect my heritage and want my business.” As many as 53 percent say, “I am much more loyal towards companies that show appreciation for our culture by advertising in Spanish.”
3. Know when Hispanics aren’t Hispanic.
Most U.S. Hispanics don’t think of themselves as Hispanic, but more in terms of their country of origin. So, messages that resonate with those of Mexican background (63 percent of U.S. Hispanics per the U.S. 2010 Census) might not play as well with those of Puerto Rican (9.2 percent), Cuban (3.5 percent), Salvadoran (3.3 percent), or Dominican (2.8 percent) background. The point is, figure out which group or groups you are interested in, and make sure you understand their cultures, hot topics, and of course their version of Spanish before trying to engage them
4. Look beyond the Border States.
While it is true that eight of the top 10 U.S. Hispanic markets are in states that form the United States’ southern border, did you know that Hispanic populations in other non-border states, mostly in the Southeast, have increased dramatically in the last 10 years? According to the Pew Research Hispanic Center and the U.S. 2010 Census, the states with the largest percent growth in their Hispanic populations include nine where the Latino population more than doubled: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and South Carolina. The Hispanic population also more than doubled in Maryland and South Dakota. Keep it in mind as you consider your next target market.
5. Understand they’re typically trendy.
When launching new products or services, don’t leave out Latinos. According to LatinoShop, a study conducted by Lapiz and Leo Burnett Group, Hispanics are more than twice as likely to follow trends than non-Latinos (41 percent vs. 18 percent), enjoy trying new products first (31 percent vs. 14 percent), and like being the first to share with their friends (30 percent vs. 13 percent).
6. And understand they’re socially spendy.
Make it easy for Hispanic audiences to share the experience offered by your products and services. LatinoShop indicates that Latinos take more of a social approach to shopping than non-Latinos involving both online and offline behavior: 37 percent reach out to friends and family compared with 17 percent; 36 percent share opinions and write reviews compared with 18 percent; and 48 percent use social networking sites compared with 31 percent.
7. Make it mobile.
If you are seeking to grow your share of a market among Latinos, make sure you have a good mobile site tailored to their needs. LatinoShop survey results show that Latinos are far more likely than non-Latinos to shop with a mobile phone (56 percent vs. 33 percent) or tablet (43 percent vs. 25 percent).
8. Don’t fly solo.
When reaching out to the U.S. Hispanic audience, don’t go it alone. There are resources like the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
and many specialized communications firms that have great relationships with key players they can leverage to help your campaign succeed.
Joel Staley is a media relations professional and executive communications trainer who works in both Spanish and English. He has represented the Mexico Tourism Board, IKEA, Accenture, State Farm Insurance, Shell Oil Company and other. On Twitter, he’s @JCSvoice.