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Spanish Media Relations Is an Important Aspect of PR

According to a recent Reuters article, the 2010 census is expected to show the number of Hispanic-Americans has grown to 50 million. This population increase, coupled with double-digit ratings growth this season, makes Spanish-language broadcaster Univision a serious contender to become a leading U.S. broadcast network.

These changes are especially noteworthy throughout California. As public relations practitioners, it is our responsibility to keep up with these changes and develop our understanding of Spanish-language media outlets just as we have English-language outlets.

The Nuffer, Smith, Tucker team recently completed a Spanish-language media tour of California for the California Citrus Research Board. The tour reinforced the importance of Spanish media relations firsthand. While there are many similarities to working with Spanish-language outlets compared to English-language outlets, some of the differences played a key role in how the media tour developed. Here are some lessons learned from our recent experience:

Disable your 6 a.m. alarm clock. Many Spanish-language broadcast stations do not produce their own local morning news. Instead, they rely on syndicated programs to use until their live 6 p.m. broadcasts. This means the 6:30 a.m. call times usually sought by English-language outlets are not commonplace. The lack of morning broadcasts allowed for some much-appreciated flexibility when scheduling taped interviews.

Don’t be afraid to speak their language – English. It is important to remember many Hispanic-Americans are born and/or raised in the U.S. and speak English. Because of this, the language barrier did not pose as much of an issue as one might expect. We pitched in English, but included Spanish-language media materials as attachments in e-mail. Out of dozens of outlets contacted, only one person was unable to communicate in English. That being said, always have Spanish-language materials on hand to accommodate any requests quicky.

Don’t rely heavily on online information. Searching for the correct contacts, finding past coverage of the issue and gathering material for the briefing book was much more difficult with Spanish-language outlets than with English-language media. In addition to the language barrier, the majority of broadcast stations featured syndicated content on their websites, making it difficult to find local news coverage.

Different outlets yield different results. While radio may not be the most widely used English outlet, it is a great asset for reaching a Hispanic audience. In addition to the media tour and other outreach efforts, NST organized the production of a Spanish radio news release, and it gave us the largest reach out of all our communication efforts.

The media tour was successful, with media placements gained in each of our target markets and in print, broadcast and radio outlets. With many lessons learned, I am confident when future opportunities arise to reach out to the growing Hispanic-American population, NST will be up for the job.

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