The boom of the American-Hispanic population has attracted an army
of Spanish-language media. David Ward looks at some of the key pitching
opportunities propelled by advertisers looking to tap into this
The increasing size and economic clout of the Hispanic community in the
US is helping to boost Spanish-language media to new heights. Not only
are Spanish-language outlets thriving in Hispanic population centers in
South Florida, Texas, California, Chicago, and New York, but there are
new radio stations and community newspapers in emerging markets in
Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, and North Carolina.
Driving much of this media growth are advertisers looking to tap into
the Hispanic community, which grew 58% to more than 35 million during
the 1990s. That, in turn, has prompted the Hispanic media to invest more
money and resources into news-gathering operations, resulting in more
outlets and better journalism. "The quality has gone from poor to
excellent," says Claudia Fonnegra, SVP with Edelman's diversity
"Where it used to be a very gossipy kind of news, there's a lot more
hard-core news, and it's a lot more sophisticated. Right now, we have no
reason to envy the general-market media at all."
This is especially true in television, where Univision and Telemundo
enjoy a national reach comparable to major broadcast networks. Telemundo
was recently acquired by NBC for $2 billion after a bidding war
The TV market is set to grow early next year when Univision launches
Telefutura, giving major markets at least three news and entertainment
channels in the Spanish language.
While virtually all Hispanic journalists working in the US are
bilingual, many PR professionals recommend issuing releases and other
material in Spanish when dealing with a Spanish-language outlet. "You
want them to use the lingo that you're using," explains Cristina Alfaro,
SVP of marketing and communications at Miami-based IAC Group. "You don't
want them to translate something literally, because sometimes a phrase
in English has a different meaning in Spanish."
Hispanic PR Wire believes that releases should be bilingual, and
distributes around 90% of its content in both Spanish and English. "It
minimizes common translation errors that can hurt you or your client,"
says president and CEO Manny Ruiz.
It's more than just translation
Of course, it's not just language that separates the Hispanic and
general interest press - it's also content. While the front pages of
Spanish-language newspapers do have stories on the war in Afghanistan,
there is a lot more space devoted to news from the Caribbean, and
Central and South America.
"They would give a lot more coverage to the hurricane in Cuba, whereas
that would not get major coverage in the general press," notes
Virginia Sanchez, director of PR at Houston-based Lopez Negrete
Communications, says Spanish-language outlets have a slightly different
mission than their English-language counterparts. "One of the roles that
the Hispanic media plays is helping its audience understand what is
happening in their community in their language of choice," she says.
At the same time, Dora Tovar, director of PR for The Bravo Group, says
the Hispanic media also helps second- and third-generation Hispanic
Americans learn more about their heritage as part of a growing trend
toward "retro-acculturation." Ruiz identifies family, aspiration,
empowerment, and living advice as being the most powerful themes.
As a result of this dual education and community-building role,
audiences tend to be fiercely devoted to Hispanic media outlets. While
numerous general-interest newspapers have targeted the Spanish-language
audience (either through special inserts or, in the case of the Los
Angeles Times, the launch of a Spanish-language newspaper), they are not
"Just like the Hispanic consumers are extremely brand-loyal, they are
also incredibly loyal to those community newspapers that have struggled
for decades to reach a level of profitability and value," says
In the end, the Los Angeles Times abandoned its Spanish-language paper,
and instead invested in L'Opinion.
In the past, the Hispanic media tended to be somewhat regional: In Los
Angeles, it was L'Opinion; in Miami, El Nuevo Herald; and in New York,
El Diario and others. But now, layered over this regional media, are
national broadcasters Univision and Telemundo, the national radio news
service Radio Unica, and a growing number of lifestyle and business
magazines targeting Hispanics from all walks of life. These include the
bilingual magazine Latina, Latin Style, Urban Latino, Hoy, Hispanic
magazine, and Hispanic Business, as well as Spanish-language versions of
Vogue, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, Popular
Science, and even Motor Trend. Maxim, arguably the most successful
magazine launch in recent years, has announced a Spanish-language
version to be published by Grupo Televisa.
Currently, the rising star among Hispanic magazines is People en
"Nothing really sticks like People en Espanol," says Joe Genova, media
director with advertising and marketing firm Lopez Negrete, adding that
since its launch in the mid-1990s, the magazine has grown to a
circulation of more than 400,000.
Journalists stake their claim
All this growth has created tremendous opportunities for Hispanic
journalists, some of whom move comfortably back and forth between the
English- and Spanish-language press. They include Maria Hinjosa, who
went from Latina to CNN, and Pulitzer Prize-winning Miami Herald
columnist Liz Balmaseda.
Other high-profile Hispanic journalists include Univision anchor and
syndicated writer Jorge Ramos, People en Espanol editor Angelo Figueroa,
and Cristina Saralegui, the "Oprah Winfrey of Hispanic media." Among the
key Hispanic journalists working in the general-interest press are
Eduardo Porter of The Wall Street Journal.
One of the benefits that many of the US Spanish-language media outlets
enjoy is distribution in Central and Latin America. But PR professionals
say this international reach is not a primary concern among clients.
"Our goal is to reach the US Hispanic market," says Sanchez. "That they
have an extra circulation outside the country doesn't change our
strategy. It's more of a bonus audience."
Indeed, targeting a US Hispanic audience is complicated enough. Ray
Durazo, president of Los Angeles-based Durazo Communications, points out
that not only are there various nationalities, but the level of
acculturation varies from recent immigrants who speak Spanish
exclusively, to second- and third-generation US residents who get most
of their news from English-language sources, but still gravitate to
Hispanic outlets for cultural content. As a result, campaigns need to be
continually tweaked depending on the target segment within the
Fonnegra says Edelman faced that challenge when launching Home Shopping
Espanol last year. In addition to a high-profile launch event in New
York, the agency also took the shopping network's celebrity hosts on the
road for events in New York, Miami, Puerto Rico, and Los Angeles. "These
events were all very targeted," she says. "In New York, we used
Charytin, who is Dominican. In Miami, it was Lucia Mendez, who is an
international singing star. In Puerto Rico, it was Charlie Masso, who
used to be with (Puerto Rican boy band) Menudo. In Los Angeles, it was
Mexican performer Luisa Fernanda."
Edelman augmented the road tour with mass mailings for smaller
The campaign ended up generating over 80 million impressions, including
hits in high-profile outlets such as El Diario, People en Espanol,
Telemundo, Univision, and the front page of the Miami Herald business
WHERE TO GO
Newspapers: L'Opinion (LA); El Diario (NY); El Neuvo Herald (Miami); El
Dia (Houston); Exito! (Chicago); community daily and weekly papers
Magazines: People Espanol; Latina; Latin Style; Hispanic magazine;
Hispanic Business; Glamour en Espanol; Vogue en Espanol; Harper's Bazaar
en Espanol; Cosmopolitan en Espanol; Estylo; Hispanic Network magazine;
TV & Radio: Univision; Telemundo; Telefutura; Radio Unica; local radio
outlets across the US
Internet: CNN (Spanish); AOL Espanol; Hoy.com; Exito.com; Lopinion.com.