Crafting a Smarter Strategy: The Art of Reaching the Bicultural Audience Today

October 29, 2015

The meaning of diversity has shifted. Whether it’s in the public or private sector, the word “diversity” doesn’t resonate in the same way that it did some 25 years ago when I launched my Hispanic PR and communications firm Comunicad.

Diversity has a more complex meaning nowadays because we live in a global multicultural and bicultural marketplace. For PR agencies and practitioners, it’s no longer a means of checking a box to say that you are able to meet a client’s needs to target multicultural communities.

It’s about crafting a smarter PR strategy that is based on enlisting a bicultural team of experts to address the needs of a client who is trying to figure out how to reach this audience of multilingual individuals — in my case, the Hispanic/Latino community. Whether it means selling a product, issuing a call to action, changing public opinion or creating awareness, it is critical to recognize that the Hispanic community is now very bicultural — living in Spanish and English with different levels of acculturation.

Zero in on cultural intelligence.

So where do we start? First, PR firms need to shift and zero in on cultural intelligence — the capacity to relate and work effectively across cultures. It cannot be bought; it comes from within by living in it in order to authentically be it. Without cultural intelligence, PR firms will have a tough time adapting to the needs of today’s changing demographics. It isn’t surprising that the population of California, the third-largest state in the U.S., is officially majority Hispanic.

As PR experts eager to reach bicultural communities, we need to be vigilant and reinvent ourselves when it comes to how to tell a story and who tells it. Equally important is deciding on who crafts the strategy to determine the approach and execution to reach this target audience through multiple channels, especially social media. 

When Comunicad was among a small handful of Latina-owned and Hispanic-owned PR firms, diversity in our profession, as well as in corporate America and the nonprofit community, was about hiring qualified people of color. The power jolt and influence of social media have forced PR practitioners to think differently about diversity — it’s no longer about the new hire. Cultural intelligence means hiring qualified PR experts who are also able to tap into their own cultural backgrounds to bring value to the table — cultural knowledge, cross-cultural skills and cultural content cognition — fostering inclusion. It is a competitive advantage.

This country is now more bicultural and culturally intelligent than ever before. Specifically in our profession, we know that content is king but it is different. Language is a big factor. Once, people were shy about tooting their horn for speaking Spanish. Now, speaking Spanish is a valuable asset. I know that for me, if something speaks to my cultural needs, then I am more inclined to pay attention.

Shift your thought process.

What should PR agencies do in the midst of our bicultural Hispanic/Latino community? Here are a few ideas:

  • Shift your thought process and begin to think about cultural intelligence rather than diversity.
  • Lead with cultural intelligence to address the needs of your agency and the client. Success is likely to be subpar without it.
  • Think now about what’s going to happen in the next 15, 20 years in communities across the country, and make strategic plans for these projections.

Reach out to millennials.

Other components of the bicultural community are Hispanic/Latino millennials and their use of social media — on which they over-index in mobile use. As PR experts, it is up to us to advise clients on how to reach them in-culture, in both languages, and what to call them.

In September, Pew Research Center confirmed that millennials don’t like to be labeled as millennials, but their influence is a big game-changer. In the Hispanic/Latino community, they want to see and hear messages that speak directly to their bicultural nature.

Establish your platform.

Diversity can’t be a cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all approach, so here are four key ways to establish your bicultural PR platform:

  • Be meaningful when determining a multicultural PR strategy.
  • Build a cultural-intelligence approach and leverage your staff as emotional quotients, who can impart in-culture knowledge and ideas to clients. If you look around and don’t have bicultural expertise, then make some internal changes.
  • Make inclusion and biculturalism a part of your strategy.
  • If you’re a large, mainstream agency, then partner with Hispanic/Latino-owned firms to tap into the bicultural marketplace.

It is a business imperative to lead with cultural intelligence. Today, millennials, gen Xers and boomers are all mixed in, and sometimes working in the same places and applying for the same jobs. Combined, they cover thoughts, gender, perspectives and age.

The markets and demographics are dictating necessities. So if you see something that talks to your cultural needs, then it will resonate with audiences. Communications strategies and platforms built on cultural intelligence create moments and movements, weaving the unusual combination of artist and entrepreneur that will take the clients’ breath away. It’s a way to strategically connect the dots and generate positive results.

Gloria Rodriguez
Gloria Rodriguez is the founder, president and CEO of Comunicad, LLC, a full service cross-cultural public relations and marketing firm that specializes in multicultural communications and engagement. A PR industry pioneer, Gloria serves on boards and advisory groups at national Latino organizations and institutions. Follow her @GRnapo and @comunicadpr.


Kirk Whisler says:

Gloria's insights are always spot on from her years of solid media and marketing experience. I truly look forward to her putting her vast experiences into a book.

Nov. 6, 2015

Jossie Sapunar says:

I love witnessing Gloria's thought process in action -- seeing how she navigates around a prickly situation and finds a creative solution. I am lucky that she shares her years of Latino PR and marketing experience with me!

Nov. 6, 2015

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