The U.S. Latinx population soared to 63.6 million in 2022. With these numbers, communicators can’t deny the importance of this demographic and its buying power. The Hispanic population is growing at a fast clip as well—the population saw a 26% increase that zoomed past the nation’s 8% growth rate.
Last year, Latinx folks made up nearly one-in-five of the people in the country. Hispanic Heritage Month is one important time during the year when non-Latinx brands can show their Hispanic fans and consumers appreciation. Now more than ever, it's important for non-Latinx brands to get Hispanic Heritage communication right—during this time and beyond. Although PR pros are no strangers to the sensitivities involved with race or minority group pitching, there are a few best practices communicators can adopt when addressing this important population.
Comprehensive Understanding of Latinx Diversity
Before embarking on any strategy, it is supremely important to have a firm grasp of the various groups traditionally included in Latinx conversations. Recent instances like Hilaria Baldwin's Spanish heritage controversy and Anya Taylor-Joy's fashion week seating incident that went viral on TikTok emphasize the importance of accurately distinguishing between different Hispanic subgroups.
Avoid misconceptions such as assuming that speaking Spanish equates to being Latina. Spaniards, despite sharing the language, are European. It may appear self-evident to seasoned communicators, but it is surprising how some team members might struggle with such distinctions. Ensure that everyone involved in executing your Hispanic Heritage strategy is well-versed in the diverse groups within the Hispanic community and understands the self-perceived differences between Latinos in the U.S. and those in their native countries.
Embrace Authentic Voices
Non-Latinx brands should consider diversifying their spokesperson pool beyond their typical non-Latinx CEO or Founder. There is nothing worse than a “heartfelt” message from a brand executive who is fumbling over rolling their “r”s or pronouncing Spanish words incorrectly.
Look inside your workforce for somebody that can give an authentic Latinx voice to your messaging. You may have to tweak your typical strategy if this person isn’t media trained. In the advent of social media, you can successfully put out content without having to run the risk of a non-media interviewed person going to bat with journalists. If your workforce isn’t the correct place to find a voice, don’t be afraid to partner with a trusted Latinx voice in your community who can be your brand surrogate. This can be an expert such as a doctor or a raving consumer who is intimately familiar with your product or service.
Above All, Communicate with Respect and Reverence
After former U.S. president Donald Trump declared all Mexican immigrants rapists, he sat in his office with a taco salad on his desk. He had the gall to record a video saying he wasn’t racist because he made the best taco salads. Communicating with respect and reverence goes the longest way for this important population. Offhand comments or attempts at humor that may seem innocuous to non-Latinos can come across as deeply offensive.
If you are a PR pro reading this, odds are you aren’t tone deaf, but as a non-Latinx brand you do need to put in a little extra work to be authentic. Don't glom on to a moment like Hispanic Heritage Month just because it's on your PR calendar, you need to have a true connection to play.
Twenty years ago, Hispanic Heritage Month was an afterthought. Our new reality is a 24-hour news cycle that has shined a bright light on remembrance dates that used to be obscure. It's a good thing—under-represented communities need celebrating and Hispanic Heritage Month and beyond is the perfect way for our non-Latino friends to show us a little love.
Priscila Martinez is CEO & Founder, The Brand Agency and Josefine Sanchez is Head of the Multicultural Division, The Brand Agency
[Editor's Note: The writers' views do not necessarily reflect those of PRNEWS.]