Spanish Media Myths and Truths
I began my PR career at a Hispanic boutique agency. I didn’t know the difference between “general market” and Hispanic market media as a new grad, but soon learned about the divide. At a Hispanic or multicultural agency, you’re going to focus on the unique cultural attributes and communication preferences of a niche audience.
While culture includes much more than language usage, I’ve found that the biggest difference about Hispanic public relations was the inclusion of Spanish. Or rather, when to use English or Spanish for writing, speaking and pitching media.
I am not fluent in Spanish, so imagine my anxiety navigating this path in the beginning! Now 16 years later, I have a better handle on how to overcome my lack of Spanish fluency when I work with Spanish-dominant journalists and audiences. Still, it is not without some discomfort on my part. I also sense confusion in practitioners on when and how to include Spanish media outlets in outreach.
To bust myths and share truths, I created a survey to get input from Spanish-language outlets and bilingual PR pros across the United States.
Understanding the value of inclusion
If we want to be inclusive, then including Spanish media in our campaigns is necessary. That’s especially true if the information is of great consequence to the community.
“Our audience wants stories that benefit them and help them directly,” said a news assignments editor from San Antonio.
The top mistake PR pros make when pitching a story idea to Spanish-language outlets is that they limit story ideas to only Hispanic or Latino topics according to the survey responses. Go beyond stories that feature Hispanics or cultural holidays. Stories that are helpful or important to English-language audiences are also helpful to Spanish-language speakers.
Learning the myths about Spanish media
Spanish media outlets are not “inferior to the mainstream media,” rather “on par with mainstream media. There are great Spanish-language outlets, and not so great ones,” shared a content director in Miami.
Representatives from outlets who took my survey want stories beyond Hispanic culture. When it comes to community topics, “we are not only looking for Hispanic stories. We want stories that impact Latin communities,” said a freelance journalist from Orlando.
Like general market or mainstream media, the audience is different per outlet. One journalist pointed out that their audience is “sophisticated, affluent and highly educated.” Top mistakes they see is that PR pros “think Latinos only want to read about Latinos. And they often pitch me opportunities that are not available.”
Pitching with confidence
Imagine you don’t speak or read in English. Where would you get your news from? What topics would interest you the most? When we shift the paradigm, it’s easy to see the disparity. Here’s what you need to know to pitch with more confidence to share information with Spanish speakers:
- Content: Think equal content in different languages.
- Press materials: Provide bilingual press materials if possible. Reporters are often bilingual and some may be more comfortable with English. Having materials in both languages allows for the best interpretation and gives reporters a running start on Spanish stories.
- Translation: If you translate materials, be sure to “transculturate” or use a Spanish speaker who is familiar with your audience to ensure your messages make sense in Spanish. Direct translations are often incorrect or awkward.
- Pitches: Pitches that are bilingual or in English are fine.
- Spokespeople: Outlets will work with an English-speaking spokesperson, but a Spanish speaker is preferred.
- Media outreach: Get to know these journalists and learn about the freelancers who support their outlets.