More than 300 public relations and communications professionals gathered in Dallas this week for the first-ever Hispanic Public Relations and Social Media Conference. The brainchild of the Hispanic Public Relations Association and Hispanic PR Blog founder Manny Ruiz, the conference gave professionals a fresh look at communicating with the U.S. Hispanic market. It also provided great networking opportunities and compelling professional development breakout sessions tailored to the needs of practitioners engaged in multicultural marketing.
I was honored to represent PRSA — a conference partner and sponsor — and to deliver the opening reception keynote address. A number of other PRSA members, including Sonia Sroka, chair of PRSA’s Diversity Committee and senior vice president, director of Hispanic marketing, for Porter Novelli, and Stephen Chavez, a member of the Los Angeles Chapter‘s Board of Directors and vice president of Hispanic marketing at Ketchum Public Relations, also took part in the conference.
“We have the trailblazers, the luminaries of Hispanic public relations, as keynoters at this conference. They didn’t really need to be here, but said a resounding ‘yes’ right away, because they all are committed to diversifying the profession,” Ruiz noted in his conference opening statement.
Professional development sessions included presentations from Cristina Alfaro, head of Hispanic communications for McDonald’s, and Mike Fernandez, vice president of public Affairs for State Farm and co-chair of the Institute for Public Relations. Topics included Spanish-language preference vs. cultural affinity, Latinos’ training and record-number participation in social media and the Hispanic market’s tremendous growth in broadband usage — which is accelerating faster than the usage by any other segment of the U.S. population.
But, it was also a great opportunity to see old friends and make new ones. As Armando Azarloza, president of Axis Agency in Los Angeles, said, the gathering was “a warm, infectious sharing of information, business acumen and fun.”
Rosanna M. Fiske, APR, is the PRSA Board of Directors 2010 Chair Elect and Graduate Coordinator & Associate Professor at Florida International University in Coral Gables, Fla.