Hispanic outlets speak to the PR world

Forget the recent sale of Knight Ridder to McClatchy.

Forget the recent sale of Knight Ridder to McClatchy.

Or the ongoing question of who will snatch up eight of the 12 remaining papers that McClatchy immediately put up for sale soon after. These days, some of the biggest moves in the media-business world are happening among Spanish-language outlets.

News of a merger between Telemundo.com and Yahoo en Español was prominently featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal Marketplace section a few weeks ago. And speculation about the sale of Univision, the dominant Spanish-language broadcaster in the US, has found a recurring spot on the business pages.

For those who have been closely following the recent explosion of Hispanic media, this flux and transition should come as no surprise. With the Hispanic market growing steadily, and marketers pouring more money into programs aimed at Hispanic audiences, it's only natural that the media would reflect that growth.

Such developments within the media not only reflect those changes, but they could also have the power to spur on future marketing activity and spending geared toward Hispanics. Deborah Vallejo, MD of Bromley Communications, describes it as an "increased awareness of the profitability of the Hispanic market."

A deal like the one between Telemundo.com and Yahoo en Español, for example, signifies a synergy between two corporate giants that are paying significant attention to the Hispanic market.

Combining Yahoo en Español's traffic - the site boasted 11.6 million visitors in March 2006, making it the most visited Web site by Hispanics - with Telemundo.com's content has the makings of an online powerhouse. But more importantly, it sends the message to timid marketers just tiptoeing into the Hispanic market that this is indeed a segment to which they need to pay attention.

"What's beginning to happen is that the increased focus on the Hispanic population is making it clearer that PR initiatives need to consider the Hispanic component," says Fernando Figueredo, partner and MD at Porter Novelli Florida and Latin America.

"Clients are paying more attention to the dynamic changes that are going on in the market and the attention that major players are paying to it," adds Jorge Ortega, president of the Miami-based Jeffrey Group. "Anytime ... our clients see that kind of trend, it reinforces the existing commitment they already have to the Hispanic market or it makes them more interested in exploring other things they should do."

The fact that the level of investment in these deals is on par - or even exceeds - those in English-language media only helps the argument that it is part of a vital segment of the media and marketing mix. Since LA-based Univision put itself up for sale earlier this year, there have been talks of several potential buyers. The latest is Mexican broadcaster Grupo Televisa, which already owns 10% of it. The estimated price tag for Univision: $13.5 billion.

"Everything for the Hispanic market in the past was undervalued," Vallejo says. "Finally, it's getting the recognition that it deserves."

Rumors abound about the Univision sale. There is the possibility that the company could be purchased and maintained as it is or that it could be split up into two separate networks. The latter would mean another major network for Hispanic viewers, programmers, and marketers looking to get exposure for their clients.

And, of course, there is always a downfall to change in media ownership; possible reduction in staff or shifts in responsibilities mean extra work for media relations pros. Yet, for now, Hispanic PR pros should take advantage of the attention.

"I think the PR industry ends up winning with these deals," says Ortega. "When Yahoo is in the news doing something, our clients are paying attention."

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