American Hispanics have been hit hard in 2020. Due to language barriers in certain areas, many businesses in America don’t know how Hispanics have been impacted or how to help.
To grow understanding for businesses that employ Hispanics or seek to reach Hispanics with their services, on July 23, 2020 we sat down with Maria Cristina Rios, a recognized marketing leader specializing in retail, multicultural and event marketing, including every aspect of promotional strategy from creative to media.
Spotlight: Maria Cristina brings a wealth of experience having worked at Fortune 500 companies with considerable retail footprints, beginning with Foley’s, a May Company department store, and—after various organizational changes—landed at the Macy’s New York headquarters. In 2017, Comcast brought her to Philadelphia to lead the multicultural and event strategy for its 500+ Xfinity stores. She is now an independent consultant working with new and long-time partners alike. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English-Communication Arts with an emphasis in Business from St. Mary’s University of San Antonio, TX, and lives with her family in Philadelphia.
July 23, 2020
What do you think Hispanics are most concerned about in 2020?
“Hispanics are having to worry about multiple things at once, not just the pandemic.”
- Unavoidable exposure to COVID-19: “A lot of Hispanics have jobs that are essential. Many had to continue working and could not stay home despite health concerns. Meat plants are a prime example of an industry where many Hispanics worked in close quarters and suffered from COVID-19 exposure.
- Increased health risk for COVID-19: “Hispanics over index in certain illnesses that are highly impacted by COVID-19. For instance, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research shows that the virus attacks a certain profile of health (hypertension, diabetes, asthma, respiratory issues, etc.). Historically, Hispanics have more of these issues.
- Loss of paycheck: “For those industries that did shut down, such as hospitality, many Hispanics lost their paycheck. This heavily impacted the Hispanic groups because many worked in the event or restaurant business. They lost a lot of employment opportunities. Especially if they were newly arrived, they didn’t know where their next paycheck was coming from. As a result of the financial impact, many are concerned about where to get their next meal.
- Lack of translated information: “Additionally, Hispanics have been affected by lack of translated materials from city/government officials. Especially newly arrived immigrants have not always had access to health information they can understand. When there isn’t information in Spanish, how can they stay informed?
- Immigration status: “This topic greatly impacts the foreign-born segment of Hispanics in America. If I don’t have proper immigration status, that’s going to keep me from going to the hospital or seeking help. This prevents them from reacting to symptoms fast enough and instead relying on emergency services at the last minute when it is too late. From a political standpoint, they are concerned about what is going to happen with immigration, specifically DACA.
Do Hispanics need help during the pandemic? If so, how?
“Absolutely they need help. They need to receive translated material about how to stay safe and on current county regulations. That way they know how to protect themselves and where to wear a mask.
“They need healthcare access if they don’t have insurance. If they are experiencing symptoms, they need to know the best way to receive bilingual help.
“For those that have been financially impacted, they are needing food and security. There could be children who may not have access to school lunches. There may be families that do not know about free resources because it’s never been shared in their language.
Will Hispanics accept outside help?
“Definitely…when they know it’s available. Any organization that is offering community resources for the total population could take the extra effort to translate them and make them available in Spanish-only channels. If they do this, Hispanics are more likely to take advantage of vital resources. The Hispanic population is already known for being hard working and having a desire to succeed/excel in the US, but it’s also about knowing what’s available as a resource so they can act on it.
How can businesses help their local Hispanic population?
“If you have Hispanic employees (or want to), this is the time to show you value and welcome Hispanics in your company by translating or doing something for Hispanic employees. Once that gets out into the community, it certainly creates positive brand awareness. You want that affinity so they keep coming back to your business.
“If you want to reach Hispanic consumers, start or join an outreach to the community or partner with a local organization that is already helping Hispanics. This can show how much you care. It’s definitely a PR play that helps build brand loyalty.
“For nonprofits, churches, health officials or schools that are offering free/low-cost services to the community, consider intentionally translating and sharing your free resources with the local Hispanic community. They may not even know you exist. Just because you may not live in an area with a large Hispanic population does not mean there are no Hispanics in your area.
How can businesses share a message with local Hispanics?
“Write a press release in English explaining what you are offering to help the local Hispanic community.
“If you can’t afford a translator, reach out to local organizations that are already helping Hispanics, such as a Hispanic chamber of commerce. Because they are likely passionate about helping the community, they may be able to help you translate your press release.
“Send your press release to Spanish channels in your area. If you don’t know of any Spanish channels, you can start with radio because Hispanics over index in both digital and over the air radio. Social media is definitely second to radio. Beyond ads, you can also locate Facebook groups by searching by nationality and area. For example, “Mexicanos/as en Pennsylvania”. TV is also big, such as Telemundo. Finally, send your press release to local influencers, such as a state/county official or a local organization that has a big voice.”
What are some examples of businesses that are helping Hispanics in 2020?
- “Some are donating to Hispanic causes, many focused around the immigration movement. Most have donated to local organizations as part of their overall community affairs efforts.
- “Additionally, in order to help Latino-owned businesses, the Hispanic chambers of commerce focused on helping Latino businesses obtain PPP loans and stay operational through the stay at home orders.
- “Another example is the work I’ve been doing with the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s R+ initiative to bring Latino-Owned businesses into the new normal, even going so far as to create a go-fund me to help businesses who don’t qualify for federal or state help or those that are immigrant-owned. Here’s the website for more information.”
We so appreciate the opportunity to talk to Maria and share her incredible insight on how to help more Hispanics who are struggling due to the challenges of 2020.
At UniComm Media Group, we are equally passionate about helping Hispanics. That’s one reason we were so pleased to identify channels and leverage social reach for DHEC’s COVID-19 Spanish health campaign, bringing more awareness to Hispanics in our South Carolina neighborhoods.
If you have any questions about how to better help Hispanics in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact us.