Crafting a diverse message for radio

Radio is a strong avenue for Hispanic outreach, but it does require a different approach.

Radio is a strong avenue for Hispanic outreach, but it does require a different approach.

As the Hispanic market continues to grow in population (and spending power), PR pros are crafting more campaigns to reach that community. Radio continues to be an effective way to target the demographic, and ANRs and RMTs are a great option for communicators.

"A lot of radio stations have been in the community for years and have an established relationship with the community," says Sylvan Solloway, director of multicultural services at DS Simon Productions. "It's also a less expensive way to reach a lot of people in various demographics."

The Hispanic community is most interested in health-related topics, issues with financial services, and anything related to the family. As a general rule, ANRs (which, in words, amount to the approximate length of a one-page press release) cover simpler topics that can be handled in a more straightforward way. RMTs are for issues that are more complex and require explanation or discussion. The increased time and more personal nature of RMTs also add to their appeal. Of course, all radio campaigns should be conducted in Spanish.

"What Hispanic radio does is fill a niche in a lot of ways," says Lynn Medcalf, EVP and cofounder of News Generation. "What radio has done is to answer the need that the community has in the US."

That need, as Medcalf defines it, is for "news you can use."

News Generation, through its work for Fleishman-Hillard, worked on a series of three ANRs right before tax season for H&R Block. The topics covered were issues specific to the Hispanic community, such as how to file taxes without a Social Security number, as well as more general topics, like how to avoid overlooking deductions.

RL Public Relations recently did an RMT for "Got Milk?" that reached 800,000 in California. Featuring an experienced spokeswoman, Dr. Mayra Rosado, who was checked in advance for her knowledge on the topic and her ability to speak clearly, the RMT allowed the audience to talk with her directly on-air about such issues as healthy teeth and broken bones and the amount of calcium in nonfat vs. whole milk.

"When [Hispanics] come here, they rely on the radio on many levels," explains Roxanna Lissa, president and founder of RL.

While news and issues are important, entertainment topics are just as popular to the Hispanic audience.

"Radio satisfies the more emotional needs of the audience," says Lissa. "Music is the main driver. In terms of hard news, people are driving more to TV."

David Henry, founder and president of Telenoticias, agrees that both entertainment and news are hot topics for the Hispanic community. Finding the right on-air talent for an entertainment-themed RMT is just as critical as it is for more serious ones.

"It may not be the obvious people," he says. "Telenovela stars are big, just like Jennifer Lopez or anyone who crosses over to the mainstream."

Henry's firm recently produced an ANR with Tony Pedregon, a National Hot Rod Association driver, for automotive parts manufacturer Honeywell.

"We were using a celebrity in a different way," he notes. "He's a Latino in this country, but doing something that's very American."

That segmentation doesn't just cut across niche interest.

"Latinos in this country are a very diverse group of people, from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, [etc]," Henry says. "It's not the kind of market where you can say all Hispanics are the same because they're not. The Hispanics who are living here want to hold on to their culture, but they're interested in American culture. That's why they're here."

Overall, it's important to make sure that the message of an RMT or ANR addresses issues that are of interest to an audience in a way that they can relate to.

"It doesn't matter what market you go to," says Henry. "It's having a good story."

Technique tips

Do

Recognize that the Hispanic community relies on radio for both news and music

Focus on issues related to health, family, financial services, and entertainment

Use an ANR for simple stories, RMTs for more complex ones

Don't

Assume that all Hispanic groups across the country are the same

Reuse material that has been used for other markets

Just count on mainstream Hispanic stars as spokespeople

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