Apr 18, 2012

The Hispanicize 2012 Re-cap: SXSW meets Latino

This year’s Hispanicize event (Manny Ruiz, founder of Hispanicize and of Hispanic PR Wire: “We can’t call it a conference, that’s wayyyy too boring,”) which took place in Miami on April 10 -13, brought out crowds of Latino leaders from social media, entertainment, marketing and the blogosphere. After only three years in existence, this event managed to become one of the largest Latino gatherings in the industry, with more than 700 people attending.

Inspired by SXSW (Ruiz: “SXSW meets Latino”), this year’s event focused on Public Relations, Advertising, Social Media and Bloggers, but also grew to include a Latino Film Showcase as well as Latinovator Awards which recognized Latino celebrities and business professionals who have become crossover successes or whose stories are remarkable or inspirational.

With about 80 different expert panels with tons of insights and sharing of ideas and information, to celebrity spottings, to mommy bloggers networking with brands like mad, this year’s “Hispanic trends” event was buzzing with excitement. You could feel the energy in the crowds of Latinos arriving from all parts of the country, greeting with besos y abrazos (hugs and kisses), burning through stacks of business cards, buzzing about who was going to be there, where the fun was, and what was the hottest panel. This growing event is truly indicative of the ever-increasing presence of Hispanics in all areas of business and entertainment, and it was inspiring to be at a venue that embraces the power and influence of Latinos.

Monica Talan, SVP of Corporate Communications at Univision, shared the insight that, “we are connecting non-Hispanics with our culture. It’s the new America reality.” The growing Hispanic influence on American culture can be seen in everything from food, music, sports, beauty standards, fashion and so much more – it truly is the new America reality. How exactly will this cross into an election year, where immigration is a much spoken about issue by politicians yet not necessarily a major concern for Hispanic voters?

The power of the Latino vote in the 2012 elections was one of the hot topics covered. Several sessions discussed this burning hot topic, as we have all heard over and over again that it is likely that this year’s election will be called by the Hispanic voters. So, what keeps the Latino voter up at night – surprisingly, not immigration – although that is what politicians want to talk about.  Verena Sisa VP at Conill/Saatchi & Saatchi, presented a study conducted with Karl Weiss, President of Market Perceptions and Latino Perceptions – it’s actually the same issues that other voters are concerned with: the economy, unemployment, gas prices and affordable healthcare.  Will the candidates be able to correctly capture the Latino mindset and speak to them on their true issues of concern, or will the disconnect continue?

Elaine del Valle, Founder of blog Political Cortadito, recommends to Latinos: “Be engaged in conversations before you vote – talk to people. Post about issues on your Facebook page, tweet. And be involved all year, not just during election time.” Ultimately this will result in a smarter voter and greater respect from political parties.

One of the big issues will be Latino voter turnout – motivating them to actually vote.  David Puente of CNN AC360 and curator of Latino in America blog on CNN.com thinks the media hot topics covering Latinos in the elections will be:

  • Why aren’t Latinos as motivated for this election?
  • Will Latinos come out to the polls?
  • Will a Latino running mate be chosen for the Republican party?
  • How will Romney speak to Latinos? Will he change his tune on illegal immigration?

Ruben Navarrette (@RubenNavarrette), nationally syndicated columnist, believes the #1 issue for Latinos is respect: “Candidates need to show they respect this demographic, and Latinos should be loyal to their fellow Latinos, not to any particular party. Latino journalists have to decide who they work for.”

Another much buzzed about topic was maximizing social media for Return on Relationship (“RoR”) . How does a company get it right? How much is too much or too little? What is the right approach for marketers? A key highlight speaker was Ted Rubin, Chief Social Marketing Officer of collectivebias, who spoke on ROR – the value accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing relationships through loyalty, recommendations and sharing.

“Social credibility is the best insurance you can buy for your company,“ said Rubin. “If a company is open with you, you will trust them.” Through his Jet Blue case study, he shared that companies can build this through:

  • Interaction
  • Consistency
  • Being true to their word – authentic and genuine

Rubin’s five steps to successful ROR:

  1. Listen but don’t just listen, “HEAR!” – respond to questions with answers that make sense.
  2. Make it about them.
  3. Ask, “How can I Serve you?”
  4. Aim for ongoing engagement.
  5. Know the people in your audience.

Rubin had many tweetable quotes to share, and this “King of Twitter” had #HISPZ12 trending: “Connect, don’t network.” “Be social in social media. Invest in your personal brand. Use your name in social media. Create conversations.” “Relationships are the new currency – honor them, invest in them.” His advice for Latino outreach: “Do not simply market to the Latino Community… immerse yourself and understand their diversity.”

The impact of social media on conventional Hispanic media was also buzzing at Hispanicize, with so many changes happening in the industry. Some key things to consider:

  • Although Hispanic media has lost reporters due to the financial downturn, reporters are now using many more avenues to report because of Facebook, blogs, Twitter, etc – so their news is getting much more exposure. PR professionals should connect with reporters through all of these platforms to understand reporter beats and use social media opportunites to connect and build relationships with reporters.
  • “Language barriers have been crossed and much of reporting is done bilingual, particularly in social media. Our reporters are now multimedia reporters,” said Monica Talan, SVP of Corporate Communications, Univision.
  • Cross sharing of content and conversations between reporters and readers is much more prevalent because of social media.
  • Hispanic media is looking for stories not being covered or reflected from a Latino perspective.

My biggest takeaway from Hispanicize 2012 was the affirmation of the ever-growing power of social media – it has undoubtedly seeped into every aspect of business and personal life, from the way we are consuming our news, to how we are networking, to new conversations and idea sharing platforms. The message is the same for marketers and PR professionals, entertainers, bloggers. If as an individual or a brand you have not embraced and indulged in social media at this point, then today is the day to begin!

Maria Elena Salinas during an award presentation at Hispanicize 2012.

Not many events can gracefully pull off mariachis, a flash mob performance to JLo and Pitbulls “On the Floor,” an appearance by Andy Garcia at a screening of his soon to be released film “For Greater Glory,” fireside chats with Latinovators Maria Elena Salinas, Nely Galan, Emilio Estefan and Cesar Millan, a screening of “Scarface” at a Miami Beach island mega mansion, and SO MUCH MORE – but Hispanicize did. Amidst the 80+ professional development sessions and numerous networking opportunities, conference organizers Manny Ruiz and Angela Sustaita Ruiz and their team managed to pull off an event which was totally worth 4 full days of any marketers time, totally worth a trip to Miami, totally worth the investment. We can’t wait for Hispanicize 2013!.

PR Newswire is proud to be official wire of Hispanicize 2012 and excited to have had a chance to exhibit, participate and make history at this Latino trendsetter event of the year.

Margarita Hernandez is a bicultural & bilingual media and communications professional with more than 12 years of experience in working with corporate clients in helping strategize their Multicultural Marketing and Public Relations campaigns. She is currently a Senior Account Manager for PR Newswire’s Multicultural Division. Connect with her on TwitterLinkedIn or via E-Mail

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