Firms ramping up outreach for Hispanic Heritage Month

LOS ANGELES: From Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer to the Red Cross, Hispanic Heritage Month campaigns are filling the newswires as America's Latino population celebrates its myriad cultures.

LOS ANGELES: From Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer to the Red Cross, Hispanic Heritage Month campaigns are filling the newswires as America's Latino population celebrates its myriad cultures.

But with so many companies and organizations using the chance to reach this growing demographic, the challenge is to craft an effort that isn't lost in the clutter.

The list of those marking the month with PR efforts is long and diverse: Coors Brewing Co., NASA, The Library of Congress, and The Hass Avocado Board are just a few.

In fact, so many companies use the celebration as a launching platform for Hispanic outreach that some PR practitioners warn clients against campaigns in this season, fearing that commercialization and over-saturation bury individual efforts.

"There is so much going on that unless you do something super-creative, just launching a program during Hispanic Heritage Month, it doesn't make any sense," said Roxana Lissa, president of LA-based RL Public Relations.

For companies that do have campaigns this month, the key to success might lie in having already created a presence in the community.

"The reality is it shouldn't just be one month and then they go away," says Christine Clavijo-Kish, CEO of LatinClips. "It should be a special effort, but it should be associated with a program that is more extensive."

She uses Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer, a LatinClips client, as an example of a long-term campaign with a fresh angle for the month. The cable channel has been promoting Dora to bilingual kids for some time, and is now using Hispanic Heritage Month to do additional outreach by sponsoring book fairs and festivals.

Clavijo-Kish adds that media outreach is even more important during this period, as journalists are bombarded with dozens of releases every day tied to Hispanic Heritage Month.

But despite the difficulties, the season does present a chance for companies with credibility in the market to further their reach.

"If you're constantly in there, and people are used to seeing messages from you, then they will to pay attention," said David Henry, president of agency TeleNoticias/NovoMedia.

Hispanic Heritage Month began on September 15, a date that marks the independence anniversary of five Latin American countries: Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

The start of the month also encompasses Mexican Independence Day, celebrated September 16, and Chile's independence, marked on September 18th. It ends in mid-October, shortly after Dia de la Raza on the 12th.

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