By: Karla Aparicio, Veaney Castillo, Maura Morales
In today’s ever changing social and political landscape, having effective communication for all our audiences has never been more critical. Our ability to communicate and address prominent issues with audiences is central to public perception, building brand image, and influencing decision-making. Now more than ever is the time to continue sharpening our skills in bringing in audiences from diverse communities. Hispanic Heritage Month represents a time where we can celebrate the influence, beauty, and diversity of the Latino community. It comprises individuals from various countries, each with unique cultures, languages, and traditions.
When working through ways to thoughtfully engage the Latino community in your communications strategy, here are some things to consider:
Keep in mind the language diversity: Although the central language for Latinos is Spanish, there are varying degrees of regional dialects, accents, and wording choice depending on geographic and cultural origins of Latinos. When translating material, keep in mind who your audience is and the demographics of Latinos that make up your audience. Spanglish, or the combination of expression in the English and Spanish language, is a growing practice among Latinos in the U.S. with 77% of bilingual Latinos sharing that they use Spanglish often in their everyday expressions. Your messengers—like influencers, speakers, or third-party validators—should also be representative of the types of Spanish that your audience intakes.
Include geographic Latino representation: There are more than 20 different countries in Latin America that represent the origins of Latinos in the U.S. While you may hear of certain cities or states being majority Latino, the demographics of origins may differ as you go from coast to coast. In California, lived experiences depending on the state’s regions may differ the outlook and perspective of Latinos in the state. For example, Latinos in Los Angeles and Latinos in the Central Valley may have vastly different opinions on key issues. It is always great to keep these geographic distinctions in mind when thinking about media and engagement strategies.
Lived experience in op-ed writing: Looking at the data, the lived experiences of Latinos and their stories need to be figured more prominently in op-ed pieces. UCLA shares that 93.6% of op-eds in the LA Times in 2022 failed to include commentary on Latino issues and the community. Opinion pieces can come not just from Latino elected officials and business leaders; everyday workers, parents, and community members can be the voices to critical issues that are being highlighted in our communications work.
Engage with social platforms that are popular for Latinos in the U.S. and abroad: Social media is rapidly growing with new platforms and opportunities every day. For many Latinos who are very much connected to countries abroad, the platforms where they retain information digitally might be different across geographic locations. WhatsApp is a platform that many Latinos use to stay connected with families abroad through voice recordings, videos, and text messages. But it has also been a place where misinformation has run rampant due to the application not monitoring content like other platforms. WhatsApp provides a space where digital content and strategy can be included in much the same way that it can be placed on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and X. Consider including WhatsApp in your next digital strategy to include Latinos who utilize its platform more often than other social sites.
Building trust is vital: In every successful communications campaign, trust is at its core. When connecting with the Latino community, it is vital to go beyond language and try to actively understand their concerns, challenges, and aspirations. Authenticity and goodwill are key to building credibility in outreach efforts. Invest time in getting to know your audience and staying informed about prominent issues. Latinos face unique social and cultural obstacles, including immigration, language barriers, and disparities in healthcare and education. By approaching these topics with empathy and deep understanding, we can contribute to positive change and societal progress.
We must recognize the important steps it takes to have effective communication with the Latino community through cultural sensitivity, inclusivity, and an appreciation of their unique experiences and challenges. As we round out Hispanic Heritage month, let us embrace our diversity in thought and continue to challenge each other to think creatively on our strategy and inclusion. By understanding and including the Latino community in our everyday work thoughtfully, we can bring together change, trust and shape equitable solutions for the issues we face.
Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!