About the conference
It’s been one month since the Hispanicize conference, “the iconic annual event for Latino trendsetters and newsmakers in social media, journalism, marketing, film, music and innovation.” If you had the misfortune of following my Twitter feed for the five days of the conference, let me apologize to you now (a little bit late). I flooded my stream with snippets, quotes, retweets and tidbits from the sessions I attended. If the topics weren’t of interest to you, you were probably annoyed; if the topics were of interest to you, you might have been a little bit grateful. Either way, the sheer volume of tweets I managed to share impressed even me,
I had a lot of fun. The content was great. The social events were entertaining and memorable. And I was able to connect with people I’d only met online and meet people I didn’t know were on my list. I actually had face-to-face time with people throughout the conference, and that alone was worth the trip. I walked away feeling energized and inspired. I look forward to attending next year again.
About the content
This is the first of two planned posts. There’s going to be a second blog post to discuss what I take away from attending a Hispanic conference, especially as a professional communicator. This post is about what I took away from the conference as a communications event. I attended an average of five sessions a day for a five-day period. I have a lot of notes I’m still sifting through. This is just an overall recap.
Throughout the conference I heard four words over and over again. In the media relations panel, the state of journalism panel, the bloggers’ session, the brand success workshop, even the gaming panel I attended all had these four words interspersed in their presentations: relationships, relevance, storytelling, and consistency. After noticing the trend on the second day I would have a flash of amusement when someone would mention one of the “key” words in a session I was attending. Then I would write it down.
If you’ve been following any professional publications or reading industry blogs (as a public relations professional) then the words don’t come as a shock. They’re included in many articles and best practices studies about how to craft a successful campaign and connect with your audience. Since one of the partners behind Hispanicize is the Public Relations Society of America, and considering the level of expertise from the speakers sitting at the panel tables, it made sense that a lot of the advice being given on how to reach Hispanic markets was similar to what you’d hear for how to reach general markets.
Tell stories. I heard a variation of this throughout the conference, and the specifics of how to tell stories varied depending on who was presenting and the topic of the session in question. Some included the importance of video and images. Some stressed the importance of being a good writer, or becoming a better writer. Spotlight your customers. Spotlight your employees. Humanize your product. Show how your product solves the problem. And so on and so on. But the most important part of telling stories was….
Make it relevant. This was also presented as use culturally-specific content. This is the part where you make your message count to your market. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you use brown-skinned actors, give your story characters Hispanic names, or tie your message to a Hispanic holiday that that’s going to make it a success. If your story/your message isn’t actually relevant to your market, then it’s going to fail. Even if you present it in Spanish. And don’t forget that not all Hispanic markets are created equal; we’re a very diverse group of people. Find out what actually matters to your market, and speak to that. Once you find a message that works then…
Be consistent. Don’t present one message online and a different message on advertising. Don’t use images that tell a different story than the copy. Don’t use videos in which your markets are not represented. Don’t promise one thing today, then change your promise tomorrow. Be true to your brand and stay true to your message in all channels. And don’t forget…
Build relationships. One of the great things of the tools available today for interacting with customers is that they allow us to have conversations directly with our customers and to strengthen their brand loyalty. One of the problems with these tools is that it’s given us an entirely new field of opportunity where we can mess up these relationships. Ironically, the most frequent stumbling block seems to be just not interacting. Don’t build a Facebook page and fail to respond to comments. Don’t ignore Twitter questions. Don’t start a blog and turn off the comments. And, most importantly, don’t ignore what your customers (and your once-upon-a-time customers) are saying about you in channels you didn’t build.
There was so much more. If someone knows of a more in-depth article on the trends that came out of the panels at Hispanicize, please share it with me. You can also check out my Storify boards from the conference. I’m hoping to revisit them to write a few detailed posts… maybe.
— Written by: Sandra Fernandez