NEW YORK: Unity was the theme of the night at the Museum of Public Relations’ Latino PR History event held virtually on Tuesday.
During the two-hour event, Hispanic PR pros on the client and agency sides discussed topics from representation in media to preparing for a job interview. Among the talking points, a major theme was that unity is needed to uplift one another and increase representation in PR.
According to the Diversity Alliance Benchmark Report, which details diverse representation in the industry, PR was only 21% diverse as of January 1, 2020, with only 6% of employees identifying as Hispanic or Latino. At the executive level, Hispanic or Latino staffers made up only 1% of leadership and represented slightly more than 1% of overall employee promotions.
That is why Pepe Aguilar, executive creative director at Finn Partners, said that despite coming from different backgrounds and places, Hispanics and Latinos must pool their resources and fight for better representation.
“It's important to understand why we don't behave as a unified community such as others, and one of the things is that we come from different countries, so [the terms] ‘Hispanics’ or ‘Latinos’ are not a one-size-fits-all definition,” he said. “But as a group, I think that we do have a lot in common, and it makes sense to become united and create a community that can support itself and fight for better presentation.”
“If we share information [about our history] and provide support for our group, then we're better prepared for the future, because we're going to have a big influence on what comes next for this country,” he added.
Other leaders echoed that sentiment, including Juan-Carlos Molleda, Edwin L. Artzt dean and professor at the University of Oregon, who noted that Hispanics in PR should seek to learn from every opportunity and failure to pass on to others.
“In addition to being Hispanic or Latino, you're a professional,” he said. “Just do what you do to the best of your abilities and capacity. My secret is to take advantage of every opportunity, and learn from mistakes, without trying to [skip] a stage or a phase in your life.”
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 7.6% of people employed in the field of public relations in 2020 identified as Hispanic or Latino, compared to 91% of people who identified as white. Hispanics and Latinos were also among those more likely to report job losses as a result of the economic impact of the pandemic. Still, Hispanics represented more than half of overall population growth in the U.S., according to the 2020 Census.
The younger members on the panel, including 2020 college graduate and founder of boutique agency Possibilities PR, Alexis Flores, as well as Catalina Santana Hernandez, account coordinator of health media at BCW Global, said maintaining connections and setting up meetings with other Hispanics in the industry helps to improve representation.
For instance, Flores said that simply reaching out to people periodically allowed him to get advice on the best way to start an agency.
“One of the ways that I got a lot of my big breaks was I would stay in contact with mentors and people I met at panels, and [ask] how they are doing and if there is anything that they need [that I can be of service to],” he said. “Being committed to this community has [helped me] build my [network], meet other influential PR pros and be on panels like this.”
Hernandez, who is also a recent college graduate, shared that in her experience “asking someone for help goes a long way.”