Hispanic Heritage Month: Celebrating Diversity
Thursday, September 20, 2018
President, National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ)
Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! Or is it ¡Feliz Mes de la Herencia Hispana!
How does one celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month anyway?
With tequila and guacamole? Or perhaps empanadas y mate tea?
How about with Andean music or reggaeton?And why Hispanic and not Latino Heritage Month?
Celebrating anything shouldn’t be this complicated!
Each year millions of people celebrate the history, culture, contributions and DIVERSITY of Hispanic and Latinos to the American experience from September 15 to October 15. Here are five things every public relations practitioner should keep in mind about one of the fastest growing populations in the United States:
Born in the USA
According to the Pew Research Center, more than 65% of the nearly 58 million Hispanics in the U.S. were born in this country. Despite heated debates about building walls, the number of foreign-born Hispanics has been declining since the year 2000. While many are children of immigrants from Latin America, several are generations of U.S. born Hispanics.
Se habla English
Another politically fueled inaccuracy is that Spanish speaking Hispanics are threatening the English language’s dominance in the U.S. Due to English-only schools, research shows that while children of immigrants tend to be bilingual they gravitate to English. By the time, those children have their own children and they have children, Spanish is lost. Regardless of language proficiency, Spanish does continue to be one of the ways Hispanics self-identify. Depending on who the target audience is demographically, be smart about using Spanish, English and sometimes both in marketing.
The Young and the Restless
Fun fact: six in ten Hispanics in the U.S. are 35-years old or younger. Hispanics are the country’s youngest major racial/ethnic group (younger than Black, Asian and White communities). This is particularly important to note in determining the best types of messaging and pipelines to reach these young Hispanic consumers. The knee jerk reaction is to think technology, but how Hispanics embrace the digital life is as complex as they are.
It is imperative to understand how different generations of Hispanics differ in how they use media in order to use the most relevant platform. Hispanics are known for being digitally savvy, y en la casa - la jefa es la que manda! According to Nielsen, 88% of Latinas say they own a smartphone, and are 15% more likely than non-Hispanic white women to own such devices. On average, Latinas spend 22 hours each week watching videos and using apps on the internet. The buying power of Hispanics is nearly 2-trillion dollars and Latinas are making most of the purchasing decisions. They use social media in not only making buys, but also in reviewing, rating and showing support for products and services.
Hispanic or Latino?
Well, it is a little bit of both.
Both terms are often used interchangeably, but Hispanic is about language, referring to persons of Spanish-speaking origin and Latino is about geography, used to refer to anyone of Latin American origin. For example, Spaniards are Hispanic and Brazilians are Latino. The word Hispanic was adopted when the observation began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week and later expanded to a month in 1988.
There is no turnkey, one size fits all strategy in taking the Hispanic Heritage Month opportunity to connect clients and brands to the coveted U.S. Hispanic community. Success will be determined by how mindful you are in leveraging the diversity of nationality, language, age, medium and culture of Hispanics.