Whether you’re working for a major retailer advertising a new product line, the government encouraging people to sign up for health insurance, or a university reaching out to prospective student populations, Hispanic audiences are a more important audience than ever before. Representing over 17% of the US population, the Hispanic community represents an outsized 20% of new white and grey collar jobs. With the population boom of the past several decades and the increase in higher education received by Hispanics, Hispanic buying power is now estimated to be as much as $1.7 trillion annually. This trend does not look to slow any time soon as the Hispanic birthrate continues to exceed the national average and young Hispanics pursue higher education in growing numbers.
“For communications professionals, the Hispanic market can be the make or break market for your campaign. Will you have the tools you need to successfully engage with it?”
When developing a multicultural outreach plan, be sure your team has a baseline understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities presented by a Hispanic audience; and that you are engaged enough in the community to find and leverage unexpected opportunities that could kick your campaign into high gear.
Here are five things to keep in mind when engaging Hispanic audiences to drive the most engagement through your communications campaign:
- A common misconception is that everyone in Hispanic audiences wants to be communicated to in Spanish. Some Hispanics may even be offended by the assumption while many 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics don’t speak enough Spanish for that to be an effective communication strategy.
- English-only isn’t an effective strategy either as it communicates a disinterest in the Hispanic consumer. A lack of interest that is likely to be repaid.
- Spanglish is effective because it is unique to the Hispanic population in the US and represents part of the Hispanic-American identity. Communicating with a Hispanic audience through Spanglish communicates a respect for their culture while demonstrating a cultural competency that will make meaningful brand engagement more likely.
- Family and Community:
- When Hispanics talk about family they’re not only talking about mom, dad and their siblings and their kids; they’re talking about “abuelito y abuelita”, cousins, and even cousins of cousins. Community is at the heart of Hispanic culture and family is at the heart of the community.
- Communications pros should reach this audience by targeting individuals while recognizing and celebrating their role as members of a tight knit and interdependent community.
- Social Engagement:
- Hispanics value meaningful personal interactions and personal relationships much more than general audiences. While a smiling and dialing approach may be effective for a general consumer audience, Hispanic consumers expect to be able to build a relationship before they can be expected to buy something.
- Events, big or small, can be a great way to achieve this brand relationship building with the community. Try to plan them around holidays in the community and make sure that they’re something the whole family can participate in.
- Social media is the next best thing to in-person events. According to Nielsen, “Hispanic consumers are digital trailblazers in the US” streaming 60% more video per month on mobile devices than non-Hispanic users. The ability to interact with consumers on an individual basis and empower them to digitally share those interactions with their community is a very powerful and inexpensive tool to be able to interact with this audience.
- Word of Mouth is one of the most popular ways information is shared in Hispanic communities with everything from jobs to restaurant choices to where to sign up for health insurance disseminated through communities by word of mouth.
- Cultural Understanding:
- A mistake often made when addressing the Hispanic market is assuming that Hispanics are all part of a homogenous ethnic group with the same holidays, traditions, and language. The reality is that Hispanics originate from more than 20 Spanish speaking countries which celebrate different holidays, observe different traditions, and speak (sometimes vastly) different dialects. For example, in Mexico if you ask for a “coche” people will direct you to a car, but in Guatemala they may understand “coche” to mean “pig” and direct you somewhere else entirely.
- Beyond linguistic differences, it’s important to understand the important holidays in the community you are trying to reach. If you’re throwing a big event on September 16 for Mexican independence day, make sure you base it in Little Village or Pilsen and not Humboldt Park where the Puerto Rican community might roll their eyes at your effort.
- It’s important to know that nobody expects perfection. An honest effort to demonstrate respect for and meaningfully connect with Hispanic communities will always be appreciated by community members.
- That being said, it’s very important that brands not only pay lip service to Hispanic outreach. If you advertise an event in Spanish, make sure there are Spanish speakers there to greet families as they come in. If they leave feeling included and respected, you may have just won a network of loyal consumers for your brand.
For public relations pros, it’s not a matter of if, but when you’ll need to engage with a Hispanic audience. Will you be ready when that time comes? Whether you’re seeking to support a product marketing campaign, shift public perception on a community issue, or enhance the reputation of a local government program, these tips will help you deliver meaningful information to drive your key audiences to engage with your brand.