As the U.S. population becomes more diverse, organizations are adopting multicultural strategies to reach new audiences. National Hispanic Heritage Month — Sept. 15–Oct. 15 — is a reminder that, to engage with Hispanic audiences, communications professionals must first obtain authentic, firsthand knowledge about their cultures.
We asked national and international communicators for their advice on how communications campaigns can resonate with the Hispanic community.
“Different migratory waves make the culture of a country or region in Latin America increasingly enriched. In Peru, we are very proud of our gastronomy and tourist attractions such as Machu Picchu. Knowing these details can help in the development of communication strategies and tactics.
The Peruvian community is characterized by being cordial, friendly and talkative. In addition, we use colloquial terms, local slang and diminutives [adding an affectionate “ita” or “ito” to the ends of words, such as turning “abuela,” Spanish for grandmother, into “abuelita”] in our conversations — elements that we must take into account to elaborate key messages. Therefore, when managing communication, we must consider the importance of the history, traditions and customs of the region that help us achieve the proposed communication objectives.” — Sylvia Flores, professional adviser, PRSSA USMP in Perú
“Above all, take into account that Hispanic culture is huge. Mexican culture is not the same as Argentinian, Colombian, Peruvian, Venezuelan or Brazilian culture. The same word means different things in different Latin countries, so we must know our audience well and try to avoid misunderstandings.
Cultural diversity is so wide that we should segment messages aimed at different communities of interest — the Mexican with its great Aztec ancestors, the Peruvian with the magnificence of the Incas. Different native people that give each country of the Americas its own identity must be represented in the context of the message.” — Mariano Iovine, faculty adviser, PRSSA UADE, Argentina
“We may think that if our efforts target a Latino audience, we are dealing with a homogeneous audience. However, though Latinos have many elements in common, there are particularities that distinguish our cultures.
One of those elements is the social-economic-political aspect, especially if the communication is targeted to these audiences in the United States. Their country of origin influences how Latinos view issues taking place in the United States and how those issues might affect their own communities.
Certainly, the strategy for a Latino audience should not be developed as a “one size fits all.” They require a deeper analysis and understanding to produce a robust, diverse and inclusive proposal.” — Raquel Rivera, APR, corporate communications director, Grupo Ferre Rangel, Puerto Rico
“Latinx/Hispanic communities are diverse in their political ideologies, socio-economic status, education, religion, etc. Not including input from people of those ethnicities can hurt your brand, decrease morale and diminish trust. And you can be confident we will spot it from a mile away.
There should never be a one-size-fits-all audience for your campaign, so be sure to research your audience well and select a subsection of our community whose often overlooked. Find out [well before Hispanic Heritage Month begins] how they like to receive their messages: what languages and outlets they prefer, what barriers exist and what motivates them to engage.”
— Nathalie Santa Maria, APR, owner and chief communications officer, Sunnyside Communications, Charlotte, N.C.
Facundo Luque is chair of the communications subcommittee of the PRSA’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. He is currently working in an Argentinean PR agency. Connect with him on LinkedIn.
[Photo credit: lightfield studios]