Exploring cultures, countries and comfort zones
Targeting Hispanic Audiences
Fifty million Hispanics reside in the United States today, and among them are doctors, CEOs, poli- ticians and business
owners. The United States has the
second-largest Hispanic markett in
the world, trailing only Mexico. It is
comprised of subcultures from over
20 countries in Central and South
America, the Caribbean and Spain,
with the majority (63 percent) of
Why not expand your speaking
business to the millions of Hispanics
who are thirsty for knowledge to
improve their lives, and the thousands
of U.S. companies that want to integrate themselves into this community?
(Walmart, for example, employs 171,000
Hispanics in the United States alone.)
To sell to this mushrooming demographic group, you must understand your
specific Hispanic audience. It is not merely
a matter of using Latin music to accompany your presentation. The culture,
beliefs, opinions and consumer behavior
patterns of U.S. Hispanics are not identical, due to differences in their native
countries’ geography, indigenous ancestry
and colonial origins. For example, a word
used commonly in Puerto Rico could be
offensive in Guatemala.
Family is a top priority in the Hispanic
lifestyle, so speakers should make sure
their presentations uphold family values.
An ad campaign for a well-known airline
failed when it focused on getting away
from family members. Why? Because
Hispanics want to be with their family.
Close interpersonal relationships, both
within and outside the family, are important. Hispanics greet each other with hugs
and kisses, and pulling back may be misinterpreted as a lack of interest of even
disrespect. So, smile and be extra friendly!
Professional speakers need to learn all
they can about their target Hispanic
audience, including customs and reli-
gious beliefs. Start with local grassroots
groups and business associations. On a
national level, check out:
• National Council of La Raza (www.
• U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
• National Hispanic Business Group
• National Hispanic Corporate Council
• Latino Professional Network (www.
• National Association of Latino Elected
and Appointed Officials ( www.naleo.org)
One of the best ways to
connect with these groups and
their members is to submit a
well-researched, culturally rel-
evant article for their trade
publications and websites.
Your success rate with corpo-
rate clients will depend on your
networking ability. Ideally, you
should present yourself as the
expert on your topic.
The Public Relations Society
of America (PRSA) created the
“Hispanic Public Relations and
Marketing Strategies Tour” to
help its members learn about
Hispanic and multicultural
public relations strategies. For speakers,
this is another source of information on
what’s trending among Hispanics.
Social media and the Internet draw millions of Hispanics daily. A recent study by
AOL shows that 77 percent of Hispanics
use the Internet, and English-language
sites are more trustworthy than those in
Spanish. In fact, because the Hispanic population residing in the United States is
second- and third-generation, most are
fluent in English. So, that’s a plus for
you, as you will not have to get your
materials translated. If you are going
to translate your materials, be sure the
translation is tailored for your specific
Frances Rios is a professional
speaker and consultant with a
bachelor’s degree in communi-
cations from Loyola University.
Her experience includes many
years as a top executive and spokesperson for
Fortune 500 companies in the United States
and Puerto Rico. Visit http://francesrios.com.