As Spanish-language media expands in the U.S., it is paramount for editors, publishers and advertisers to know what ways are best to connect with Spanish-speaking audiences. Portada® recently caught up with three very experienced editors. This is what they had to say:
Q: Throughout your career how have you been most successful in connecting with Hispanic readers?
> AURORA LOSADA, Editor of Spanish publications of the Houston Chronicle – La Voz de Houston and La Vibra, Houston, TX): When you touch issues that affect them in the most direct way: from immigration to healthcare, education, personal finances. Any information that helps those Hispanics who are not yet acculturated to the USA is gold for them. It is a tool to help them navigate in life in this country. Also, when you show the utmost respect to your readers by offering them compelling in-depth reporting, strict accuracy, and the best Spanish. You are telling them: I respect you, I value you, no matter your income level or your legal status in this country.
> ALBERTO VOURVOULIAS, Executive Editor El Diario/La Prensa (New York City, NY): The best way to connect with readers is by offering content that grabs their attention and addresses their interests and concerns.
> JUAN ARANGO, Editor, Mundo Hispánico, (Atlanta, GA): Before joining MundoHispánico, I spent 6 years working at Hoy. I was responsible from the early days of Hoy for creating, developing and implementing the overall news and information and visual concept/strategy. As a result of that I dedicated the last 2 years of my tenure with Hoy expanding the publication to Chicago and Los Angeles and as Executive Editor of all three editions. There as I am doing today I believe that I have been successful when there is a good balance of local, international, sports and entertainment news with a useful amount of information and a powerful presentation. In short, success comes when we as a media outlet provide our readers with a comprehensive dose of empowerment elements with the adequate packaging, when we also focus on things interesting above the important.
“Hispanics demand good publications, tailored for them, for their needs and dreams.”
Q: How do you get more response from readers, by publishing interviews, opinion articles, or features?
> LOSADA: Since La Voz is a weekly it is our policy to have an outstanding centerpiece every week about something that we consider that our Hispanic community in Houston needs to know. It can be about whether the bilingual education system is good or bad for your kids, how to get healthcare even if you don't have insurance or a special series on immigration, like the one we are doing now. These are the articles that provoke the most immediate response form our readers. They call us every week and you can feel in the dialogue how much they do want to share their views and comments with us. The second category is usually features. Many women call us about our “Mujer” page, where we have stories about fashion, children, the workplace, etc. Our health columnist also gets many responses and even questions from people who want to know more about a specific issue that has been written about. We also get comments about our weekly tech piece by our tech expert “El Tecnomaníaco”. It is very Tech 101 and some people tell us they collect the articles as if they were putting together their own manual.
> VOURVOULIAS: We get responses to all three. Each of these genres has its own passionate set of fans.
> ARANGO: Readers are far more responsive to interviews and features. I believe that op/ed pieces are important but not as interesting.
Q: What themes (sports, immigration, entertainment etc…) do you think your readers are most sensitive to?
> Losada: Our readers are particularly sensitive to immigration and education. Sports and entertainment are more about passion but issues like immigration, health, education, define our readers' life in this country.
> VOURVOULIAS: Sports, Entertainment, Immigration, Taxes, Crime, all of these are part of our daily life. They are the stuff of conversations with friends and co-workers. They fill our leisure time and are the facts we need for our jobs and for getting ahead in the world. Although we all open the paper to a certain section or story first, readers rarely limit themselves to just one type of news.
> ARANGO: Immigration, how-to information, entertainment, local and international news and sports -in that order.
Q: What type of content from newswires do you think is still missing in their offerings?
> LOSADA: The most obvious: a good coverage of Hispanics in the US, including the border. Good analysis on US politics and how they affect Hispanics in this country. The same about the political and economic situation in Latin American countries. Personal finance content is practically non-existent and very important for the readers.
> ARANGO: Local news, success stories and how to information with local flavor.
Q: In your experience, how have the tastes of Hispanic readers evolved throughout time?
> LOSADA: More than a matter of taste I believe it is matter of self-awareness. Hispanics in this country today demand good publications, tailored for them, for their needs and dreams. They won't settle for just anything, which is good for the community as a whole, and for us as professionals. They are also more aware of the fact that they are an object of desire for advertisers and thus they have become more selective in the way they buy and make money-involved decisions. They have a better knowledge of their value in this market.
> VOURVOULIAS: The tastes of Hispanic readers are evolving and changing to reflect the constantly changing demographics of our communities. Latinos in the US serve as cultural interlocutors between the US and Latin America. And the US Hispanic population is a growing, and increasingly recognized, economic and political force in both the US and Latin America.
> Arango: Hispanics have become more sophisticated in there appetite for news and information. In an ever changing world, with all the things going on with issues like immigration, homeland security, and education among many, we expect to find media sources that can help us be in the know almost immediately, not only of what is news today, but tomorrow and in the days to come.
Q: What is the advantage of the print medium to reach Hispanics?
> LOSADA: Print gives you the chance to think, to reflect about the content. You can also present the information in ways that can be of further utility for the reader. For example, a POE (info box) with bullet points containing contact names and phone numbers of people who can help you get scholarships. You can clip, keep it and use it later. It works the same way with ads. Print is the only way for an advertiser – other than online – to make sure that his ads will be seen and maybe kept at some point. For instance, I can clip a supermarket’s ad, put it in my purse and go buy groceries with that info in hand. I can’t do that with a TV or radio ad.
> VOURVOULIAS: Print provides a full range of information for all members of the family, from those who want in-depth news to those who need a reliable source to touch base quickly and easily with what is happening in their local scene or around the world. It is a news source that is portable and can be consumed on the reader's schedule.
> Arango: With print media you can provide more depth that in other media, in particular compared with radio or TV. On the other hand, Hispanics, though growing in numbers as Internet users still use print media as prime source of news and information.