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The Hispanic Media Boom - A greater opportunity for public relations

By Gina Amaro Rudan

Today we live in a global village where information, ideas and messages are disseminated throughout the world in a short amount of time. As PR professionals, we must frame our messages to impact different cultures living within the United States and abroad. The Hispanic community is a significant part — 44 million to be exact — of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Meanwhile, the Spanish-language media is on an upswing. Overall, 2006 was an explosive year for Hispanic print, television, cable, radio and the Internet. According to TNS Media Intelligence, Spanish-language media is one of the fastest growing sectors, with a projected growth of 5.4 percent in 2007.

To access this burgeoning and influential group, communications professionals must first consider tactics to effectively grab the attention of the Hispanic community and gain entrée into this $800 billion opportunity.

To reach Hispanic consumers, PR pros must understand the Hispanic media landscape — both how it differs and aligns with traditional outlets.

Print media

In total, 385 weeklies and 37 daily newspapers target Hispanic readers, with an increase in the number of Spanish weekly newspapers of 9.7 percent from 2005 to 2006,according to Latino Print Network. The growth in print media has triggered an increase in advertising revenue.

When targeting Hispanic newspapers, there are a few tips that you should keep in mind. “No nonsense” news formats are the most effective. Commercial messages are generally disregarded. This is especially true of the print media. Familiarity with the publication and the type of stories that are covered is increasingly important.

As Hispanic print continues to increase, so should your contact files. Develop, maintain and regularly update your media databases. As editorial departments grow, so should your contacts. Don’t hesitate to reach out and introduce yourself to these new editors, reporters and writers, who are, for the most part, bilingual.

Broadcast media

A striking example of the emergence of Hispanic media are the 11.6 million television-watching Hispanic households in the United States, who, on average, watch more television each week than the rest of the U.S. market.

Three major Hispanic television networks target this audience: Univision Communications, Telemundo (owned by NBC) and Azteca America. These networks account for more than 100 local stations and hundreds of cable affiliates throughout the United States. Couple this with the multitude of Spanish-language cable stations popping up across the country, and it’s no wonder that Spanish-language television is being recognized as a tremendous media and PR opportunity.

To track behavior of Hispanic viewers, which is particularly critical for our advertising colleagues, the Nielsen Television Index (NTI) allowed Telemundo, Azteca America and Univision to join its organization (NTI used to depend on its separate Nielsen Hispanic Television Index.) The immediate result of this union is a direct comparison with the English language networks, leveling the playing field for Spanish-language networks.

In working with the Hispanic broadcast media, you should develop an integrated approach. Like with print media, research is essential for success. How well you know the programming and the type of broadcast the station produces could be a huge factor in getting your story run. If you don’t have time to learn about the various stations and their programs, hire a Hispanic PR expert or agency that can ensure relationships with executive producers. These specialists will be able to develop an effective news hook for specific programs.

Contrary to the general market of English-broadcast stations, prepackaged video content does well with both national and local Hispanic outlets. Therefore, you have an opportunity to produce and distribute Spanish-language video news releases or culturally relevant b-roll.

Finally, when pitching producers, think local. The majority of effective PR programs align with a cause-related community effort. Invite producers to cover any applicable community events. Many programs will quickly respond to the opportunity to broadcast culturally relevant footage. Pitch in-studio interviews, especially if your campaign includes Spanish-speaking roles or Hispanic celebrities.

Radio media

Why should PR practitioners target Hispanic radio stations? According to Arbitron, Spanish-language radio attracts 18.9 percent of all radio listeners age 25 to 34.In fact, Spanish-language radio ranks third among the top-five formats in the United States, according to a 2006 Ad Age survey. Overall, the top-five Spanish language formats are Mexican regional, Spanish contemporary, Spanish adult, Spanish tropical and Spanish news.

If you intend to reach the Hispanic community, consider producing and distributing a Spanish-language audio news release (ANR). Spanish-language ANRs should consist of sound bites from spokespeople in Spanish (or voice-over narration in Spanish), assembled into a news story format that fits into radio newscasts.

Another approach for generating coverage is to develop fresh and provocative Hispanic story angles that utilize Spanish-speaking experts. Many producers appreciate experienced experts who can talk in information-packed sound bites. Similar to the general market, spokespeople that can provide energetic, action-packed interviews are in high demand.

Internet media

At the spring conference of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies in Chicago, panelists reported that the total number of Hispanic people using the Internet had grown by 11 percent to 16.3 million, while the time they spent online grew by 34 percent. Among Hispanics using the Internet, the number with broadband connections at home grew from 40 percent to 61 percent last year, and their use of social-networking sites soared by more than 200 percent, AdAge.com reported.

Maintaining a Web presence is just as critical for the Hispanic market as it is for the general market. It’s important to distribute your Hispanic news online to the portals, databases and Web sites that serve your target audiences. Just as blogs are emerging as a way to circulate news in the general market, the same came be said for the Hispanic market. According to comScore Media Metrix, the top-10 Web sites read by the Hispanic consumers are Yahoo! sites, MSN-Microsoft sites, the Time Warner Network, Google sites, eBay, MySpace.com, the Ask Network, Amazon sites, Viacom Online and Vendare Media.

You want to make sure that your company’s Web site, especially the media section, is rich with Spanish-language content. This will showcase your effort to connect to the Hispanic community and help explain your relevancy to Spanish speaking citizens, both locally and nationally. Remember to act as a brand ambassador online and partner with other Hispanic sites. Don’t hesitate to dive into the nontraditional world of PR and advertising integration on the Web.

As communicators, we must adapt our messages to different audiences. With today’s global market, framing messages to speak directly to diverse cultures is an important strategy. Targeting Hispanic media outlets offers tremendous PR and revenue opportunities.

If you do your research, build relationships with the press, and follow a few important guidelines, you and your clients can capitalize on the booming Spanish-speaking audience.

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