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.


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