Communicating Effectively to U.S. Spanish-Language Media & the Hispanic Community: More Than Sending Your News in Spanish

February 24, 2012

by Danny Selnick, Vice President of Public Policy & LatinoWire Services, Business Wire DC

by Danny Selnick, VP, LatinoWire Services

Communicators that may have only the occasional need to engage with the Hispanic media and community about an issue, product or some other topic, should take note of a few useful tips for their targeted communications outreach or run the risk of failure.

  • First, the Hispanic community is not monolithic.  They come to the United States from all corners of the Americas, and there are cultural and language differences that need to be addressed, especially when crafting the message and then writing the news release.   While I’m not suggesting communicators write many versions of the same release to fit all the various communities, I am saying that the message has to be general enough that Hispanic media and their audiences can equally relate to the message.
  • Second, simply translating releases into Spanish can be dangerousdestroying the message or even worse – a loss of reputation, as an extreme example.  Spanish is a language that is culturally rich and anyone doing translations needs to completely understand the interaction between words and culture to ensure the message is well-received and understood.  Gerald Erichsen wrote an article in About.com listing several well-known (true and not-so-true) Spanish translation/cultural blunders.  Nevertheless, the point is clear: Don’t use an automated program to translate your news from English into Spanish … and if you need to translate, make sure the person is a native speaker.  Oh, and also remember that Spanish doesn’t come in one flavor.  Words used in one country might mean something very different in another.  Use generally accepted and grammatically correct Spanish.
  •  Third, while many recent immigrants or older Hispanics may only speak Spanish and rely on traditional Spanish-language print and broadcast media for news and information, younger Hispanics tend to be bilingual and look for and read news also in English – both in print and online.  And much like other American in their 20’s and 30’s, younger Hispanics are increasingly online, using smart devices with mobile news and social media apps to be informed and stay connected.  That also means communicators should include social media strategies while employing the latest technologies in search engine optimization and add multimedia when appropriate.  Make your news release powerful and visible.
  • Last (but not no less important), which Spanish-language media should you consider reaching out to?  Just like any other communications campaign to media, you should target your message to Hispanic media appropriately.  Is your story national, regional, local?  Researching and finding sources of up-to-date listings of Spanish-language newsrooms is not as easy as finding general consumer newspapers by circulation from E&P.  Using Google or other search engines may offer a number of links – but they’re not likely to be accurate.  Some even at the top of the search (like Echo Media) are more than seven years old.  You can go to Business Wire’s LatinoWire page for some 1,200 listings organized by media type and geography.  Also keep in mind that there are really only abut 30 Spanish-language dailies in the United States.  Most print publications are weeklies, so be mindful of their deadlines.  Reaching bloggers and social media feeds takes a bit more work too.  You have to find appropriate writers, communities and feeds — and then build connections.  See who is following whom and ask if they’re appropriate for your own network.  If so, link-in, befriend and follow them.  Your network will also grow.

So what’s the end result?  Issue your news with care, in Spanish and in English, to traditional Hispanic and general media, but also include reach to the online world by keeping up with and using new the mediums of communications used your audiences.

Danny Selnick, a 25-year veteran of the newswire business, is Business Wire’s vice president for LatinoWire and Public Policy.  He is based in Washington, D.C.


Just in Time for Hispanic Heritage Month, Tips for Reaching the Hispanic Media

September 1, 2011
by Pilar Portela, West Media Relations Supervisor, Ethnic Circuits
Pilar Portela

Pilar Portela, West Media Relations Supervisor, Ethnic Media Circuits

New Census data shows US Hispanics have become the second-largest population with 50 million citizens.  Their buying power should reach a projected $1.3 trillion in 2015. With Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) right around the corner and in anticipation of the 2012 presidential elections there is renewed interest in reaching this demographic.

As the media relations supervisor overseeing LatinoWire, I provide media outlets with content relevant to their coverage area and help our clients with questions uniquely inherit to Latino media and pitching them successfully.  I wanted to share my thoughts on some of our most frequently asked questions.

1)      Send your release in both English and Spanish.

US Hispanic media organizations are becoming more bilingual catering to both English and Spanish-speaking Latinos to increase their audience.  Sending in both languages saves them from having to translate your release. Additionally, merged newsrooms such as NBC/Telemundo have staff that may not speak Spanish. It ensures they will be able to read your press release and consider it for their newscast.

2)      Don’t skimp on Spanish-language translation.

Translation bloopers can cost your organization in reputation, time and money. Keep in mind not everyone who speaks Spanish can translate. Free translation tools have come a long way, but if you want to avoid embarrassment (which translates to embarazo or pregnancy in Spanish) have someone who is fluent go over the text. Be on the look out for literal translations which could change the tone and/or message. Business Wire feels translation is such an important part of reaching the US Hispanic market we include it in our LatinoWire distribution.

3)      Remember to reach out to Hispanic media year round.

If the only time you target this group is during Hispanic heritage month then you are missing out on opportunities. Hispanic media is faring better than mainstream media. There are more than 800 US Spanish-language papers and they are interested in any news item that has the potential to impact the Hispanic community (positively or negatively). Year round you should share your story ideas on everything from awards and marketing campaigns to surveys, studies and trends.

For ideas on reaching out to the Hispanic community, check out the diverse companies using our LatinoWire service to reach over 1,200 Hispanic print and broadcast media outlets throughout the U.S.  Clients include: Coca Cola, Winn Dixie, Sprint and the Mayo Clinic, among others.


September is Hispanic Heritage Month

September 2, 2010

by Pilar Portela, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/Florida

With Hispanic Heritage Month beginning yesterday, keep in mind that the Hispanic consumer base in the U.S. is so big (50 million people) that all marketers, not just Hispanic brands, need to be targeting this group. Also, Latinos are now the nation’s second-largest consumer market after white non-Hispanics. Check out Pew Hispanic Center’s new case studies: “The Latino Digital Divide: The Native Born versus the Foreign Born” and “How Young Latinos Communicate with Friends in the Digital Age“.

The Pew Hispanic reports found that when it comes to socializing and communicating with friends, young Latinos (ages 16 to 25) make extensive use of mobile technology. Hispanic Youths vs. Hispanic Adults: Hispanics ages 16 to 25 are more likely than Hispanics ages 26 and older to use mobile technologies to communicate with their friends. While half (50%) of young Latinos use texting to communicate, just 21% of older Latinos do the same.

Check out the latest companies using LatinoWire, including Yahoo!, UnitedHealth Group, Best Buy, KFC, Sprint, McCormick, Prudential, Comcast, and Mayo Clinic, just to name a few. These releases run in English and Spanish with translation included! This is a great time for your company to share stories about culture, inspiration, success and more.

Keeping Hispanic Heritage Month in mind, we also encourage you to sign up any knowledgeable experts from your company or organization in our ExpertSource database. Individuals who can share insight into the Hispanic experience, be it business, events, issues or culture, will help make diverse voices available to media members all year round.



28th Annual NAHJ Multimedia Convention and Career Expo in Denver: El Grito Across the Rockies

July 22, 2010

by Pilar Portela, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/Florida

Business Wire’s West Coast Media Relations Specialists, Eric Thomas and Pilar Portela, were in attendance at this year’s 28th Annual National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) Multimedia Convention and Career Expo in Denver, June 23-26. More than 700 journalism professionals, a majority Latino, gathered across the Rockies to meet and hear from their peers.

Eric Thomas; Mariela Dabbah, author of "The Latino Advantage"; Rebecca Aguilar, founder, Wise Latinas Linked; Pilar Portela

This year’s title was “NAHJ En Denver: El Grito Across the Rockies.” For those of you that are unaware, the Spanish-language word “grito” means “shout” in English.

According to the association, it’s an apt title because there are distinct messages – gritos – it wanted to reverberate in all directions from the conference in Denver. The first message NAHJ wanted to make clear was that although 2008 and 2009 exacted a toll on groups such as NAHJ, their organization is still strong. Secondly, NAHJ remains committed to providing members with the training they need to thrive in spite of these tough economic times. NAHJ has long considered itself the voice for Latino journalists and for the kind of fair, accurate, balanced, nuanced and informed coverage that the industry needs.  At this moment, as an organization, NAHJ believes this role continues to be relevant and they will not falter in their stance as that voice citing events in Arizona that reaffirm this point.

The convention programming included media training sessions on topics such as Mining Your Beat, Multimedia Photojournalism and Web Publishing. There were also workshops on Convention Do’s and Don’ts, Twitter 101 and Marketing Yourself in a Multimedia World, just to name a few. As the voices behind Business Wire’s Twitter account @BWLatinoWire, Eric and Pilar tweeted some of their convention experiences.

Michele Salcedo and Eric Thomas

Michel Salcedo, Editor, The Associated Press; Eric Thomas, Business Wire

One of the most anticipated events of the convention was The Newsmaker Luncheon on Friday afternoon.  This panel of distinguished immigration experts grappled with how public opinion shapes the immigration debate.  Panelists approached the issue of immigration from their respective fields of study, giving each one a slightly different viewpoint.  Nelson Castillo, an immigration attorney, said the political will to accomplish comprehensive immigration reform within one year is not there.  Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, likened the immigration debate to the title of a book about abortion, a “Clash of Absolutes.”  Camarota said talking about immigration is difficult because it is an issue that strikes at people’s core beliefs.  Paul Voakes, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Colorado at Boulder, called immigration a third-rail issue.  Voakes, who studies how media cover immigration, said part of the problem, is that people don’t like talking about immigration.  He said that in the mainstream media, immigration receives relatively little coverage until close to election time.  However, in talk-show media, hosts blend news with opinion, distorting the issue, Voakes said.

Unfortunately, NAHJ’s message was overshadowed by rumors of the organization’s financial woes and dwindling membership. The 1,300 member organization dependent on monies made from the convention has seen a rapid decline in registrations for the annual event.  In 2006, 1800 people came together in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  This year the number teetered just over 700.  Moving forward NAHJ officials said the organization’s future includes a commitment to training and continuing annual conventions but not depending on them as “cash cows.”

Manny Garcia and Pilar Portela

Manny Garcia, Executive Editor, El Nuevo Herald; Pilar Portela, Business Wire

Next year’s 29th Annual NAHJ convention will be held in Orlando, FL. For more information on NAHJ visit the association’s website at www.nahj.org.



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