Latinos Demand Más: Pushing the Limits of Traditional Public Relations to Effectively Reach Hispanics

The following article was featured in O’Dwyer’s June multicultural issue.

By: Jorge Ortega, Executive Vice President at Burson-Marsteller, Leader of Burson Latino

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When I first began in the Hispanic communications field more than 25 years ago, Hispanics were considered a niche market, and targeting them was far less sophisticated and complex than it is today. Today, the 2016 Hispanic market has burgeoned into a large, diverse audience that has a significant impact on companies’ bottom lines, demanding much more from communications professionals than in years past. Be it content, channels for engagement or community connections, in this increasingly digital world, and with Hispanics over-indexing on digital channels and devices, today’s Hispanic marketer has to employ a much broader depth and breadth of assets than days past to communicate effectively with this audience. Now, more than ever, brands need to connect with Hispanics- which means communications agencies must have capabilities far beyond a well-connected, bilingual media relations team.

English? ¿Español?                                    

Speaking of bilingual media relations, this is not to say that bilingual media specialists aren’t essential to our agencies any longer. They are. However, the way our strategic communications plans approach traditional media relations has become much more complex. English or Spanish? Or do we shake things up with Spanglish content? There is a multitude of studies circulating on the benefits of Spanish verses English to connect with different Hispanic generational levels – but that’s not to mention the young, powerful Millennial generation. Good luck with them, fellow marketers. A difficult audience to categorize, Hispanic Millennials demand much more from marketers, and are hyper-connected to online media. While many of them speak Spanish as their first language, they may be equally strong in English and prefer to communicate in their Anglo tongue. Buzzfeed and Elite Daily may reach these audiences just as effectively in English, while Telemundo and Univision are now scrambling to better connect with the trendy Millennial population.

Digital or Digital, spelled the same in both languages 

Arguably the best means of reaching Hispanics, digital is, by its interactive nature, demanding of marketers. Latinos are now famous for their penchant for digital media, over-indexing on digital usage. Nielsen recently found that Hispanic consumers in the U.S. tend to stream more online video and were more likely to use mobile devices as second screens. This is not breaking news to Hispanic marketers, however it does increase what is asked of brands. Across segments, brands are expected to interact with their audiences, not just market to them.

Brands need to create engaging videos and content, and with public relations budgets significantly smaller than those for general market clients, they need an affordable way to create fast, creative content that will resonate with their audience across social media channels. Agencies must be able to provide this now, and even more so in the future. This could change the way that a traditional public relations agency is structured. Creating engaging content requires a talented creative team, and speedy graphic designers and video editors who can work hand-in-hand with a communications team to generate content quickly that is in line with the brand’s messaging and will cause digital Hispanic audiences to take note, rather than continue scrolling down their newsfeeds.

My comunidad 

Scan through any trending Hispanic influencer’s account, and you’re bound to come across a meme related to having a large, extended Latino family. It’s no secret that Hispanics place great emphasis on the value of family and community relationships. However, this builds expectations for brands to integrate seamlessly into the Hispanic culture. Think a Cinco de Mayo sponsorship at a local Mexican restaurant is enough? Think again. While some brands are leading the pack at infusing their brand narrative with Latino values, this requires more of a strategic communications campaigns than a presence at large, must-have events. The U.S. Hispanic population is a powerful network, reflected in the strength and influence of its organizations. Strong relationships with Hispanics begin with strong relationships with appropriate organizations within this network. Would you like to connect with young, business-minded Hispanics? Connect with ALPFA, the Association for Latino Professionals? Does your brand support entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized businesses? Maybe you should connect with the Stanford Latino Entrepreneur Initiative. Want to understand where Latino voters stand on certain issues? You can meet Latino appointed and elected officials through NALEO (National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials).  A successful Hispanic communications agency needs to have the connections to get your brand’s foot in the door across a variety of organizations and chambers.

Are you ready to succeed in this market?

As the entire public relations industry continues to evolve with the advance of digital media, Hispanic-facing efforts are changing even more quickly. Agencies specializing in the U.S. Hispanic market must now provide more capabilities for their clients, which requires a significant change in traditional public relations approaches. Brands needs to connect with audiences through engaging, multilingual content shared across digital channels and interact meaningfully with the community in order to deliver measurable business impact. Hispanic marketers must strengthen and diversify their communications capabilities in order to rise to this challenge.

Burson Miami: We are local, we are global

Burson-Marsteller Miami has been part of the South Florida community for more than 25 years. And while Burson-Marsteller is renowned for its global network  of 73 offices and 84 affiliate offices, together operating in 110 countries across six continents, we are proud to offer our world-class communications capabilities to clients right here in Florida and the Southeast U.S.

For this reason, we are thrilled to now have Karen Guggenheim on board. Karen exemplifies our balance between being local and being global. Born in Nicaragua, Karen grew up in Miami. She has served as Director of Communications and Public Affairs for Colson Hicks Edison P.A., a top national litigation firm based right here in Miami, managing all communications across the Americas. Karen also was a reporter at the Miami Herald. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Miami, and recently completed an MBA at Georgetown University. Here at Burson Miami, she is leading client partners based in Florida and the Southeast U.S. She also spearheads engagements with global organizations coming to market in the U.S. and North American companies expanding internationally. We count ourselves lucky to have Karen leading our team of diverse professionals in Miami.

Burson-Marsteller Miami is here to serve our local community.

At Burson-Marsteller Miami, we are deeply engrained in the local community that we serve. I am a Miami native myself, and am involved in organizations such as Camillus House, which provides humanitarian services to Miami-Dade’s homeless population. Public relations is a demanding field, yet my Burson Miami team still finds time to volunteer with organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Feed My Sheep, the Miami Circle and La Ventana De Los Cielos. We’re also privileged to partner with local institutions such as Miami Dade College and Florida International University, and support philanthropic organizations TECHO and Americans for Immigrant Justice through our pro bono work.

Burson-Marsteller Miami is here to serve our local community. We’re already working with great companies just up the road in Fort Lauderdale, elsewhere in Florida and the Southeast U.S., and others headquartered around the globe. No matter their home base, we have the capabilities and expertise to help them connect with our local market or on a global scale.

I look forward to sharing more about how our team in Miami is truly living our commitment to Burson-Marsteller, Being More through being local and global, from our Miami roots to our worldwide presence.

By Jorge Ortega

Karen Guggenheim Joins Burson-Marsteller Miami as a Director

Karen Guggenheim Group Director
Karen Guggenheim
Group Director

We are pleased to announce today that Karen Guggenheim has joined us as a Director.  She will lead engagements with clients in the U.S. looking to expand into Latin America, and with Latin American companies interested in expanding into the U.S. and globally. Karen also will focus on strengthening existing client relationships and building new business.

“Karen brings two decades of journalism, strategic communications and marketing experience to Burson-Marsteller,” said Jorge Ortega, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Burson-Marsteller Miami. “She has a deep understanding of the business and communications challenges organizations face when they expand internationally, and we’re excited for her to share that expertise with our clients. In addition, she will work with the Miami leadership team to introduce Burson-Marsteller’s capabilities to the hundreds of public and private companies here in Florida. I’m delighted to welcome her to our team.”

Before joining Burson-Marsteller, Karen Guggenheim was a consultant, providing strategic communications counsel for clients in industries ranging from spirits to fashion to technology. She also was Director of Communications and Public Affairs for Colson Hicks Edison P.A., a top litigation firm, managing all marketing and communications across the U.S. and South America. A journalist by training, Guggenheim also was a reporter and wrote for the editorial board at the Miami Herald.

Miami and the state of Florida are critical gateways for clients, and I look forward to working with Burson-Marsteller colleagues here and globally to bring them best-in-class strategic communications counsel,” said Karen Guggenheim. “It’s exciting to be part of such an impressive global network and outstanding team of professionals.”

Karen Guggenheim earned a Bachelor’s degree cum laude in psychology and economics, and a Master’s degree in print journalism from the University of Miami. She recently completed an MBA in business administration from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. Active in her community, Guggenheim is a long-standing Miami resident.