Monday, December 6, 2010

Local Shop Makes Good

The Puget Sound Business Journal this week features the annual University of Washington Minority Business Awards recipients, and the local branch of PromoShop took the top honor, the William D. Bradford Minority Business of the Year Award. PromoShop is a promotional advertising firm (think branded pens, T-shirts).

Their story is pretty cool. For about two decades, The Compleat Company was doing just fine with fantastic clients whose names we all know. But they wanted to grow--and they wanted to somehow accomplish that during a bad economy.

Crazy! But they did it. They pursued nationally known Promoshop and President & CEO Guillermo Kahan. Turns out they had a shared culture, philosophy--but now as a "PromoShop," the Seattle team would have a greater national reach. With the merger, and the introduction of their hugely popular EcoPromos line (which is exactly what it sounds like), the Seattle shop saw $25 million in operating revenue in 2009.

Remember 2009, when we coined the defeated phrase, "flat is the new black"? That's exactly when these Seattle promotional guys gave their success its biggest boost.

Last month I visited the Promoshop site in Georgetown and met with co-VP Glenn Leimbacher. I got to see the fruits of their labors--not just pens and Ts but brands fashioned in fantastic shapes, even from unique molds, with spot-on logos plus any range of colors. On Glenn's desk were these amazing (and reasonably priced) custom-frosted cookies with photo-sharp logos. Fun! This is not your father's "specialty advertising" business, I thought.

What struck me most, however, was the operations they're running at PromoShop. I was invited to the "Grand Tour" and they have an amazing world going on in there, behind the scenes! Not just great warehousing space like you would expect, but several different stations where they have their own embroidery, silkscreening and other equipment set up and running, onsite. Impressive. Of course they can source products and materials worldwide as needed, but I saw this as beneficial for quality control and turnaround.

Even more impressive is that their employees appeared to enjoy their jobs and each other. They all smiled at Glenn--not the "you're my boss so I guess I better smile" look, but genuine smiles and light banter throughout the tour.

This is definitely the kind of business I want to support, whether through client orders or simply writing this blog post (for which, I shouldn't need to add, I am not being compensated).

If you ever need to step it up with fun stuff that makes a statement--whether for a trade show, teambuilding event, annual meeting, or even a family reunion--consider visiting their site and you will see it all for yourself.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Marketing 101: The Difference Between PR and Advertising

Sometimes people forget that marketing to Latinos can have all the same components (and successes and frustrations!) as marketing to a more general population. No matter your target, the marketing mix can and should include various tactics, including public relations and advertising. However, there are many significant differences between these tactics. For the non-marketer, I would like to review at a very high level public relations and advertising, and their advantages and disadvantages.  

Advertising and public relations. They both belong in a cohesive marketing plan. They both require significant strategy and coordination. They both require consumer insights and market expertise. They will produce different results that can help give your brand exposure and credibility.

One big myth about the difference between public relations and advertising is that PR is "free." Marketers are spending time working on a compelling angle, talking to media contacts, pitching stories, following up and scheduling interviews, etc. All this takes time--and time equals money. But the media is free, so many companies view it as if it were free advertising. But it's not. It's not free, and it's certainly not advertising.

That bring us to the next significant difference between PR and advertising: CONTROL. In advertising, you pay media for a particular space/time/position and the content you supply is what your audience sees. No surprises, assuming all goes according to plan.

In public relations, marketers aren't buying media, so the control isn't there. The brand's end result could be no exposure, limited exposure, New York Times front-cover exposure, or even negative exposure. Marketers, and the companies and organizations we represent, are at the mercy of the media on this one. We build connections and work on media relations so that when the time comes, we understand what our contacts need and they in turn are willing to showcase our client. The payoff, of course, is that editorial exposure is seen as more reliable, truthful, objective--more newsy--than advertising.

This brings me to my latest foray into PR. Earlier this week I was interviewed by the Puget Sound Business Journal for a story on Mariners' Pitcher Felix Hernandez and his recently announced American League Cy Young Award. How might this award impact Felix' marketability? I was asked. Here are some things I shared with the reporter:
  • Felix Hernandez can now be considered a local sports hero. As Fredy Montero is currently serving as Super Supplements' Latino spokesman in local Hispanic media, perhaps there is a simliar path Felix could take now that he's garnered more attention and value. (I did not specifically recommend Felix represent fast food or vitamins.)
  • Remember Edgar Martinez in those The Home Depot TV spots of years past? Edgar didn't have a big command of the English language but won over audiences, Latino and non-Latino. Felix also represents that-guy-next-door that audiences could trust as a spokesperson. Because he has such strong ties with Venezuela, he would be especially effective in Latino-specific marketing.
  • We didn't discuss how much Felix could earn from commercial ventures, although the range quoted and attributed to me don't seem out of bounds.
At this time I'd like to add that Felix Hernandez could be a great cross-over property for marketing to both the local Latino population as well as the general market here in the Puget Sound region.

Smart companies have long strategized their marketing to include more multicultural cues and references. This way, a more cost-effective campaign may be implemented that can still meet both audience's needs. For example, if your company is targeting Spanish-dominant Latinos as well as the general public, a TV spot can be developed to leverage similar imagery for both but with English and Spanish voiceovers or superimposed text to best communicate the salient points. This only really works if you have everyone in the room at the outset of the project and in agreement on the ad's objectives.

Sometimes companies are simply too big to get everyone together that way, and that's OK. Many times it's these same companies who have the resources to produce original Hispanic creative directed at their Latino target, which in a nutshell is the ideal way to handle Hispanic marketing.

The sad truth is that, oftentimes, Hispanic marketing efforts are left for last, really a whoops-we-forgot-about-a-big-percentage-of-our-target effort instead of embarking on a well-planned and measurable program.

The work we do at Conexión Marketing is either very local or national. National accounts have always been our mainstay, but we're here to say that with more than 400,000 Latinos permanently residing in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties, it's time to take for local companies that next step! Whether through advertising, public relations, social media, direct marketing, another tactic or a full mix, companies need to take note now that this market is being sorely missed.

The good news? There's still time to be the top-of-mind brand in your category among the fastest-growing cultural demographic!

In just a few weeks, a topline of the Census data will be announced. Things might change when people realize what it means that the U.S. Latino population is the fastest-growing--even right here in Seattle, Washington.

Read the full Puget Sound Business Journal article here (full access may require subscription).

FOLLOW-UP: To the credit of the Puget Sound Business Journal, the online version of the article was revised to properly attribute comments. Kudos to Aislyn Greene and the PSBJ for the considerate follow-up!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Washington State Media Values 600,000+ Population

Wow. It’s very telling that Washington state television has reached the level of sophistication of California media when it comes to sharing civic issues specifically with its Spanish-dominant Latino population!

I recently read that a California gubernatorial debate was broadcast in both English and Spanish. Not surprising.

Well, Washington is right up there with California, reminding all that 1) government issues are relevant to Washington state Latinos and that 2) Latinos are relevant to our state’s government!
This is all thanks to the presence of Vme in much of Washington and its partnerships with KCTS 9, which hosts the local affiliate in partnership with Washington State University. Vme is the national Spanish-language network that produces public programming that is educational as well as fit for the whole family. We are lucky here to have access to that national resource which also features important local programming.

KCTS 9 aired their Ask the Governor program last Monday with Governor Christine Gregoire—live, and complete with calls and emails from concerned citizens. This was another significant opportunity for Washington voters and residents to learn about the pressing issues we face—and just in time for our upcoming elections.

But there’s a twist.

The local Vme affiliate again collaborated on this important project. Not only is the entire program dubbed in Spanish for airing on local V-Me, but Tony Gomez and team worked to create additional integration between the two airings with questions in Spanish from Latinos.

So, while most of the questions for Governor Gregoire were in English, there were a couple in Spanish. The key is this: These particular questions weren’t included just for the Spanish-language program, but aired on the original English-language program with English dubbing or subtitles. On the Spanish program, Vme will be stripping that layer and Latino viewers will hear from people in their own community. Not only does this enrich the program by collecting more diverse viewpoints, but it shows that 1) Washington state does indeed have a great Latino constituency, and 2) that demographic is actively invited to join the process of getting informed about important issues that will affect them, too.

I witnessed a piece of this process, when professional interpreters were brought in to produce the voiceovers for Enrique Cerna (the show’s host), Governor Gregoire, and questions from the public. It was a great opportunity to see the kind of devotion KCTS 9 and Vme have to make important, local content accessible to the Latinos of our state.
Tony Gomez, who practically runs Vme single-handedly, hails from California and has for years been pushing for better communication and involvement with Washington State Latinos—something that is becoming more and more critical as our state’s Hispanic population has topped 600,000.

“We want to ensure access to information that affects the lives of our viewers,” explains Community Outreach Coordinator Tony Gomez. “We also hope to create more engagement between language communities. Dropping the Spanish questions into the English broadcast allows everyone to be part of the same conversation. In this way, the program is more than a one-way dub of English content, passively received by Spanish speakers. It gets us closer to a two-way conversation and reminds everyone of our diversity.”

Pregúntele a la Gobernadora will be aired in Spanish on Vme at 7pm this evening. Vme can be viewed over the air (with a digital tuner) on 9.2 in the Seattle area/Western Washington and on 47.2 in Yakima and Central Washington. (Cable channels are Comcast 119 in Western Washington, and Charter 297 in Yakima/Central WA.) For more information about Vme in Washington, visit their site or KCTS 9 Vme on Facebook.

The Spanish-language program is also available now via the KCTS 9 site.

Local affiliates of both Vme and KUNS (Univisión) will air Spanish versions
of the U.S. Senate Debates. The Vme broadcast will air next Friday, 10/22 at 7 pm.
It’s rumored that KUNS will try a simultaneous broadcast of this Sunday’s debate.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hispanic Heritage May Be This Month, But Hispanic Culture is 24/7

Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 - October 15. It's invented here in the U.S., much like the term "Hispanic" itself. It is based on Fiestas Patrias, or the many countries' independence days celebrated by Latin Americans everywhere. There is no "Hispanic Heritage Month" in Latin America or Spain.

So while it may be a little forced, it's a way we can devote a month to the incredible history, culture and people of these regions. It's a clear target for corporations to get "involved." But of course, that wheel keeps turning whether we're celebrating it or not.

Earlier this month, I retweeted a message about Nordstrom and its involvement in Hispanic Heritage Month this year with a special Roberto Rodriguez-designed top, the proceeds of which will benefit the Hermanitas program (part of MANA, the largest pan-Latina organization in the U.S.). Nordstrom quickly followed me on Twitter after that retweet. While this major retailer is not a client, there's something they may not realize I know about them.

Nordstrom has backed the passions, aspirations and achievements of Latinos for years, and in many significant ways.

While Nordstrom has done some national print advertising, its connection is deeper than simply attracting the Latino consumer to shop at their stores. And while it does it pretty quietly 11 months out of the year, it makes a big difference. Here are some ways Nordstrom has done it right--ways that every corporation should be noting:

When I last spoke with a Corporate Communications contact there, Nordstrom was making annual donations of $1,000 to $65,000 each to more than 20 Latino organizations nationally--eight of which were focused on education.


Their Supplier Diversity Program, created in 1989, ensures access to the economic opportunities within Nordstrom for minority- and women-owned businesses. I have figures back from 2005, when Nordstrom expenditures with minority and women-owned businesses reached $635 million, bringing total expenditures to $6.4 billion since the program was launched.

Also, prior to building or relocating a new store, Nordstrom sponsors and promotes a Project Preview, which is designed to introduce Nordstrom to minority- and women-owned subcontractors and suppliers in local communities. This presents a great opportunity for local companies to learn about Nordstrom business practices, bidding procedures and to become familiar with the requirements of the project.

Each year, Nordstrom hosts the Latina Empowerment Summit at its downtown Seattle store. This is a day wherein local Latinas are invited to hear from nationally known speakers as well as a panel of regional role models. This year's Summit--the 10th annual event--is this coming Saturday. Attendees will hear from keynote speaker Consuelo Kickbusch, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, founder and president of Educational Achievement Services, Inc., and an accomplished author. It's an event that inspires and connects attendees to the Latinidad they share. (I've attended this event, too, and its an amazing warmth that's created in that room!) This year's invitations feature the work of local artist Blanca Santander.

So as you may have noticed, it's about more than just Hispanic Heritage Month, and it's about more than advertising. It's about creating a real connection--a connection that truly matters--to communities and to consumers.

Of course, as a native Seattleite I'm partial to Nordstrom, which got its start as a Seattle shoe store in 1901. But I think this is one company that can proudly serve as a model of diversity. Oh, and here's more information on its Hispanic Heritage Month promotion this year.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What's Appropriate? Understanding Cultural Cues

It's amazing what people *think* is appropriate.

We all have our ideas about what is, and isn't appropriate, and they're usually based on context. When a guy would ask my then college-aged sister to dance, her response would be "that's not appropriate." That usually had them backing away, confused. Why is that not appropriate? (And how do you respond to that, anyway?) As it turns out, she just liked dancing by herself.

Knowing that our individual sense of what's appropriate, relevant--and that behavior or those words which send the same message we're intending to send--can vary within a culture, just imagine the mistakes that are made when working cross-culturally.

I'll never forget about a beautiful gift of flowers my Japanese friend received. Her all-American boyfriend surprised her with an impressive bouquet of fresh mums. She was less than pleased, and that was confusing to me because it was a lovely, considerate gesture. (If only all guys were so inclined, I thought!)

Turns out, chrysanthemums are funeral flowers in her native Japan--an important piece of knowledge for anyone courting someone from Japan, I'd say!

And speaking of Asian cultures, I just read a novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (a surprising view into the wartime treatment of Seattle's Japantown residents, a subject that just wasn't taught when I was a kid growing up here). Samantha, a Caucasian engaged to Marty, a Chinese American, is trying to win over his father. She goes to Uwajimaya to buy ingredients for traditional Chinese dishes like choy sum and black-bean crab, to which the father smiles approvingly. Then she announces the green tea ice cream she purchased for dessert. Pregnant pause.

Green tea ice cream is not Chinese, but Japanese, but based on her earlier victories the father tries to let it go.

If you are marketing to a specific group and truly understand what makes that demographic tick, you can capture their hearts--much like Samantha captured her future father-in-law's heart by preparing traditional Chinese dishes that he remembers growing up with. Then, even if there's a slip, consumers may maintain loyalty based on your history of "victories."

Of course the contrary is true as well: Companies can easily push away their consumers by not doing their homework and learning about what truly captures the hearts and minds of their target demographic.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Levi’s: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants for TV…Kind Of

This blog post was written by Paul Sangalang who is an intern at Conexión Marketing. He has received a B.A. in Business Administration from Washington State University in International Business and in December he will receive a second degree in the Spanish language.

Levi jeans, in conjunction with the Discovery Channel, will follow the journey of 5 young U.S. Hispanics on their journey from Alaska to Argentina by way of the Pan-American Highway. The 10-week show will be broadcast in Spanish and is accompanied by a bilingual website. The three men and two women who were chosen to partake in this “trip of a lifetime” will have 10 stops along the way where they will work on projects related to music, style or design; all while wearing the latest from Levi’s Work Wear collection.

This TV series will represent Levi’s principal effort to-date at attracting the Hispanic market to the brand. If you read about Hispanic marketing here or elsewhere, you know that research has found the Hispanic segment to be generally young and a prominent user of social media. Levi’s is harnessing this vital piece of information by kick-starting their Levi’s-branded website with frequent updates from the 5 stars. These status updates can then be shared on other social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook to increase awareness and foster a base of followers for the show. This is all in conjunction with their “Go Forth” campaign, chosen specifically as the “pioneering” aspect was found to connect with the Hispanic market.

While the show will air in Spanish, Levi’s target market is the young bilingual Latino. This is one of the main reasons why the website following the show will be in both English and Spanish. Marketers have consistently found the task of successfully reaching this segment to be one of the most challenging and Levi’s hopes to have found an innovative way to reach out to them.

Levi Strauss & Co. is one of the United States’ great business pioneers, being founded in San Francisco, California in the 19th century. While the goal of the show is to target the Hispanic market, I feel that the general U.S. public can relate to the story. The United States was founded by explorers and pioneers willing to travel through uncharted land. This modern-day version, albeit with charted maps, illustrates a similar journey of new experiences and learning about one’s self.

I think it’s important that we, from time-to-time, go out and explore new frontiers and have new experiences…but if you can’t do that, at least you can zip up a new pair of Levi’s and follow these 5 Latinos on their personal journey through North and South America.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Telecom Services Are Getting Hispanic Dollars - How Will Other Industries Fare?

This blog post was written by Paul Sangalang who is an intern at Conexión Marketing.  He has received a B.A. in Business Administration from Washington State University in International Business and in December he will receive a second degree in the Spanish language. 

In a 305-page report by Insight Research Corp. titled US Hispanic Use of Telecommunications Services 2010-2015, it concluded that Hispanic buyers will account for “17 percent of all residential telecom expenditures.” With the number of Hispanics in the US estimated to surpass 50 million, it’s apparent that this demographic will become a major target for marketers outside of only telecommunications services. Telecommunication companies, as well as other industries, have been aggressively marketing towards the Latino population for years, but the question is: when will all the other industries tap into this market segment?

It’s important to note that the Hispanic ethnicity is the youngest segment in the US, with the largest percentage of citizens under the age of 18. It was also found that Hispanic-Americans are very social online, which can be attributed to the youthfulness of the segment. If marketers play their cards right, they will be able to obtain long-term consumers and reap the financial benefits of lifetime customers.

According to early Census predictions, US Latinos will hold $1 trillion in buying power. It will be paramount for companies and industries, which haven’t already, to recognize the immense potential that the US Hispanic segment holds. It’s not too much of a stretch to presume that those companies who fail to recognize what the Hispanic market holds for their business will fall to the wayside, while those that do prosper.

It will be interesting to see how these companies market to the Hispanic segment and who will succeed in gaining the most market share. I’m sure that these industries are all thinking the same thing and will be working furiously to outmaneuver their rivals. So let the games begin…or better yet: ¡que comience el juego!

To view the article click here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

BigResearch: Reaching Niche Markets Within the Growing U.S. Hispanic Population

This post was written by Edilia Ruiz, who is a student at the University of Washington from the Department of Communications and Spanish, and is interning with us during Spring Quarter.

Thinking of targeting your business to the Hispanic population? Consumer research firm BigResearch in Columbus, Ohio has discovered that tastes of Hispanics vary in regards to shopping and media preferences between U.S. born and English speakers versus their counterparts who are foreign born and speak Spanish.

English-dominant speakers and U.S. born Hispanics tend to prefer stores like Macy’s, Walmart and Kohl’s for clothing and Best Buy, Target, and Walmart for electronics.On the other hand, Spanish–dominant consumers and foreign-born Hispanics choose stores such as Macy’s, JCPenney and Walmart for women’s clothing and Best Buy and for electronics.

Also, BigResearch found that English-dominant and U.S. born Hispanics include top 40 in their music interests, whereas Spanish speakers include Latin artists.

Media and technology topics showed that English-dominant Hispanics are more likely to text on their cell phones and use TiVo/DVR, while Spanish-dominant Hispanics are more likely to blog and use instant messaging.

In my opinion, having this type of research helps businesses know how to target a specific audience and advertise most effectively. As a bilingual consumer, I identify with both group findings in this research because as a Spanish speaker and foreign-born consumer I choose stores like Macys, JC Penney and Walmart to shop; at the same time, as an English speaker I also listen to top 40 and I use my cell phone to text as well as blog and instant message with friends and family.

Some questions I had while reading this article include concerns about who their sample included. Did the research include participants in Columbus only? In big cities? Rural areas? Nationwide? Beyond? and what was their methodology? Was the survey conducted through focus groups, telephone interviews, intercepts or was it online? Further, the results do not reflect a big difference between the two groups and their choices of music selections or stores for shopping. Perhaps this tells us that the two groups of Latinos are more alike than different in these areas.

If you are interested in learning more about this research check out the BigResearch website.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Algo para agregar a tu conocimiento sobre Aguascalientes

This post was written by Edilia Ruiz, who is a student at the University of Washington from the Department of Communications and Spanish, and is interning with us during Spring Quarter.

So, you might have heard about the goring of José Tomás, the famous bullfighter of Spain, at the fair of Aguascalientes, México last Saturday since it’s all over the news. In this post, I will not be writing of the tragedy, but instead I will share a festive side of the State of Aguascalientes.

It all began in 1828 with a government’s vision that unfolded at a market, a loan of 8,000 pesos ($670.00 U.S dollars) from one merchant and of course lots of enthusiasm from the merchants in Aguascalientes.

Despite this being the first Feria de San Marcos, it gained lots of success that drew people from different states throughout México and abroad. The San Marcos Fair started as a simple country fair with livestock, and then modernized to also include new events such as cockfighting, bullfighting, the Queen of the Fair Pageant, and traditional Aguascalientes dress.

The San Marcos Fair which lasts thirty days provides an opportunity for growth and exposure of local, regional and national economies that come together and share the original vision. Every year, the state of Aguascalientes invites a Mexican state and a foreign country to share their culinary arts, fine arts, music and dance with the people. This year, Feria de San Marcos will be celebrating 180 years of festivities, making it the Number One national fair in México.

Mexican Company Newly in Seattle

This post was written by Vicky Hsiang, who is a student at the University of Washington Intensive Business English Program. She has the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree in Spanish from her native Taiwan, and is interning with us during Spring Quarter.

TechBA is a company from Mexico which introduces other Mexican companies into the U.S. and other countries. It is believed that this will create more local job opportunities. Washington’s information technology, aerospace and biomedical companies are supportive of TechBA. The State Department of Commerce has provided TechBA team members with temporary meeting rooms because of the potential to create local jobs.

TechBA will expand its company into Seattle at the end of April. The firm already has several offices in the U.S.; this office in Seattle will be the fifth. The reason that TechBA chose Seattle for its fifth office is related to Microsoft; we know that Microsoft has a tradition of hiring employees who are graduates of the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Mexico. Itzam de Gortari, director of TechBA, said they will analyze Seattle companies to find a good match with Mexican counterparts and will introduce 15 Mexican companies to Seattle by the end of October 2010.

This article can be found in this week's Puget Sound Business Journal.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Young Writer

This post was written by Vicky Hsiang, who is student at the University of Washington Intensive Business English Program. She has the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree in Spanish from her native Taiwan, and is interning with us during Spring Quarter.

A 15-year-old student at Highline Health Sciences and Human Services High School, Manoush Genet Castañedad, just published her first novel, “The Ways of the Owl.” This book talks about social justices and the importance of education. She said, “I am happy that many people will read my book. I want them to understand how to use positive ways to change the world and to never stop learning.”

When she was young, Castañedad moved to a small town in Mexico with her mother and sister for one year. They spent that year opening a library there. Her grandfather enjoyed telling her stories about the townspeople and the town’s past. Those stories inspired her to write a novel.

After Castañedad came back, she started to write the novel; however, it was not easy to finish. She suffers from a neurological disorder that impedes her brain from sending correct signals to her muscles. She had to spend most of her time in bed. She didn’t give up her novel, however; the disorder strengthened her conviction to finish her novel. After two years, Castañedad showed it to her teachers, who encouraged her to publish the work. This novel is about a farmworker living in 1907— a Latina who knows how to read and write, and those abilities help her attain more knowledge.

I admire the author, because she didn’t give up when she was sick. I am older than she is and healthier; however I haven’t persisted the way she has. Every time when I meet an obstacle, it is easy for me to quit, or at least complain. A 15-year-old girl can overcome her pain to achieve her dream and share her opinions with others. We should learn from her. We have a Chinese saying: “Even though it is a very cold and dark night, don’t forget the beautiful morning is coming.” When we persist, there are many amazing things waiting for us.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Add Value with Foreign-Language Component

This post was written by Vicky Hsiang, who is student at the University of Washington Intensive Business English Program. She has the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree in Spanish from her native Taiwan, and is interning with us during Spring Quarter.

Nowadays, cultures are more and more globally connected, but the U.S. is somehow falling behind, especially in education.

According to an editorial in The Seattle Times (April 7, 2010), Seattle Public Schools have language-immersion programs to help solve this education problem. In these programs, students are taught 50 percent of the time in English, and the rest of the time in a foreign language. The test results show that students who are in these programs have higher scores overall than those who are taught in English only.

Educators also point out that students in elementary school can learn foreign languages more easily than others. In Seattle, nearly 50 percent of elementary students are eligible for bilingual education. Seattle’s language-immersion programs are very successful, and they could help improve the quality of education in the U.S.

From my experience, in Asian countries, all the students must study their native language and English in elementary school. For example, in Taiwan, our government made English one of the main subjects in elementary school 12 years ago. Nowadays, trilingualism is more and more common among the younger generation.

In school we study English at least 10 hours per week, which is why most students have high scores. However, in Asian countries there is an interesting phenomenon: those students are only good at reading, listening and grammar, not conversation. They know a lot of English vocabulary, but they cannot speak it. The main reason is the high student-teacher ratio; there are more than 35 students in one class, so students really don’t have a chance to speak during the class. Moreover, students tend to be quiet during the class out of respect for the teacher. It is hard to encourage students to speak. Some educators discovered this problem, so now there are many ways to study in the U.S. or other countries.

In the future, we’ll have even more opportunities to go to other countries. Even if you don’t travel, you can still meet people from other countries and exchange ideas with them. Communication is very important, not only in our native language but also in other languages. When you talk to people from other countries in their native language, they will feel you are very friendly and eager to know their culture.

If you would like to reference the editorial, click here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Free English and Computer Classes for Non-English Speakers

This post was written by Vicky Hsiang, who is student at the University of Washington Intensive Business English Program. She has the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree in Spanish from her native Taiwan, and is interning with us during Spring Quarter.

Goodwill offers a training center with English and computer classes to help non-English speakers find jobs.

Elba Rosalba, from Burien, has been a housekeeper for most of her life. She has lived in Burien for eight years, but cannot speak English because she is afraid to do so. She has made a decision to learn this language to get a better job. She says, “It is for getting a job and protecting my rights. Now I understand English a little better, but I still need to learn a lot of things.”

The class is one semester long and the center will start a new class in mid-May. These classes are free and include a computer lab which can give students the opportunity to learn how to use Word and Excel to practice their English while learning new computer skills.

According to the instructors, most of the students have difficulties finding a job. The reasons are a lack of English ability and steady employment history. They need to learn how to be on time, to have a good working relationship with coworkers and to be responsible for their behavior.

“We provide training with real work experience. We look at it seriously and ask for our students to be responsible,” Instructor Susan Matta says. Those things are important, so those are the top tasks for the instructor.

The class is usually 90 minutes long and meets twice a week. The teachers take the participation of the students in the class seriously because it is job training. Moreover, it is a way to enter the workforce.

Some who enter this center have barriers; they may not have a home or transportation, and they may have a criminal or substance abuse history.

Elizabeth Acorda, the instructor and expert in the Burien center, says that most of her students are refugees, women who don’t have jobs and those who had a temporary job that ended.

As an international student in Seattle, I think it a great idea to offer a class for those who do not speak English well. The work environment is new to us and there is so much “common sense” that is not common to us! In this center we can learn about the real work experience, study English and learn how to use a computer. It is good news for non-English speakers and for their employers.

If you are interested in this program, you may call the center at 206-860-5791 and make an appointment. They will test you to determine your level in English and Mathematics. For more information please check the website.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Latino Shop Expands within Pike Place

This contribution is written by Yuritzi E. Lozano, who this week graduates from the University of Washington, with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies: Latin America and Spanish with a minor in Diversity.

Cintli will open its doors once again after expanding to a different location in Pike Place Market. This little Hispanic shop sells jewelry and traditional Mexican handicrafts. This time around the shop will focus on selling a greater variety of products. Its artisans usually hail from the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Jalisco, Michoacán, Puebla and Tabasco. The owner, Beto Yarce, says that in importing traditional products from Mexico he is also providing local artisans in México with a work. Now, Cintli will also be offering space in its new location for the upcoming local Hispanic artists to show their work as a means to support the Seattle arts community as well.

The folk art gives Pike Place market a sense of traditional Mexican flavor through unique handicrafts and jewelry. The new shop also offers new contemporary Latino art as well. Although their clients are primarily tourists, they also have products that will make any native Mexican nostalgic. With its vibrant colors and products, there is something for everyone. Beto’s vision to include the local Latino community among his featured artisans provides Seattle Latino artists additional exposure.

Cintli will have a Grand Re-Opening celebration next weekend March 19-21 from 11am to 5pm at 321 Pike Place Market, downstairs of the Market.

For more information on Cintli visit the website.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Beyond the Language Barrier in 2010

This post is contributed by Diana Lopez, senior at the University of Washington, double-majoring in Law, Society and Justice/Spanish.

The Census 2010 will soon be in the hands of every household in the United States, but will everyone know how to respond to it?

The Census Bureau is acknowledging that many languages are spoken within the U.S. and will be releasing its Census form in 5 different languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Russian. A recent article in La Raza del Noroeste highlights the measures that the Census Bureau has taken in the state of Washington to reach out to those who do not speak English. They have hired locals who speak various languages so that they can reach out to every community and explain to everyone the importance of the Census. There will also be community centers where people can seek out any help they might need to fill out their forms.

I’d have to agree that the language barrier is an important factor that must be overcome; however, I also think that it’s important to educate everyone that the Census Bureau is not allowed to share any information that is provided to it. I have had opportunities to ask locals if they plan to fill out the Census and many have said they don’t plan to. Pero, ¿por qué? They fear that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement will be notified of their undocumented status in the United States. Many immigrants will not be counted because of this simple fact, but it’s crucial that everyone gets counted because the more accurate the numbers, the more opportunities are given to the community.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Diversity Training for Communicators This Thursday!

Diversity: Accent accessible communications

March 11 Public Relations Society of America South Sound

• How many people did your most recent missive miss?

• Did your audience include people with visual or hearing impairments?

• Is it valuable to tweet in Spanish and other languages, or is it enough to translate your press releases?

Whether it’s a required part of your campaign or you simply want to reach more people, our team of experts will share tips at the March 11 South Sound Group on communicating with audiences you may be missing.

Kristina Walker of EnviroIssues will moderate a panel of experts:

- Kristine Edens, EnviroIssues

- Lauri Jordana, Conexión Marketing

- Kevin Nathan, Washington State Department of Services for the Blind

- Idalie Muñoz Muñoz, Muñoz Media

The South Sound Group meets at 8 a.m.—doors open early for networking—in the first floor board room at Metro Parks Tacoma headquarters, 4702 S. 19th St. Cost is $5 for PRSA members, $8 for nonmembers. Please sign in at the door. Refreshments are included, no reservations necessary.

Directions: From I-5 north or south, take SR-16 toward Gig Harbor. Take the 19th Street East exit toward Cheney Stadium, turn right on 19th, then right into the Metro Parks Tacoma parking lot. Note: please leave the customer-designated parking open for Metro Parks. If you require special accommodations for a disability, please contact Sheree Trefry at 253.305.1059 or at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting.

If you'd like more information about the benefits of PRSA membership and how to apply, please check out the website.

Gene Juarez, The Man

If you live in the Seattle area, when you think of "Gene Juarez," your thoughts go to great haircuts, spa treatments, and for me, the best pedicures offered anywhere. But there's a man behind this chain of luxury spas and salons throughout the Puget Sound region. His name is, well, Gene Juarez.

And the new issue of 425 magazine has featured Mr. Juarez. Or perhaps, Señor Juarez. You see, Gene's family came from Mexico and started their American life as many Mexican immigrants do here in our state--in Eastern Washington fields. The article is great.

But what it doesn't mention is that Mr. Juarez is a brilliant marketer. The way I've heard the story, he got his big start downtown when he visited the Frederick & Nelson (RIP) department store across the street. He approached the elevator operators and offered them haircuts. Of course! Because from then on, when anyone asked the operator where she got that great 'do, her answer would be, "Gene Juarez!"

Mr. Juarez is also a founding director of Plaza Bank, which is one way he can reach out to families, in situations much like his own those many years ago, through business. The Bank has both commercial lending and retail banking services, and it offers financial literacy and competitive products that help people new to our way of banking in the U.S. In fact, Plaza Bank stood among very few community banks when it reported profits last quarter.

Read Mr. Juarez' story by Lisa Patterson--you'll be amazed, motivated, and if you're like me, you might just be inspired to get yourself a spa pedicure. (Ask for Mercedes at the downtown location.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Linking Business with Latino Culture

This post is contributed by Diana Lopez, senior at the University of Washington, double-majoring in Law, Society and Justice/Spanish.

Have you ever thought of the difference between approaching a non-Latino and a Latino with a business deal? It is no mystery that Latinos take great pride in our culture and it is no surprise that our culture influences our decisions in making a business deal.

I had the pleasure of attending an event held at the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, entitled “Business and Culture with Hispanic Americans,” last week. This presentation was given by Lauri Jordana, Lourdes Sampera-Tsukada, and David Spencer and was monitored by Lee Mozena. It was held to help those in the Seattle area understand the Hispanic population and give them effective strategies to approach the Hispanic market.

Before we even got into the demographics of the Latino population, Lauri touched on a very important subject: terminology. So what do you call “us”? Latinos, Hispanics, Chicanos, Mexicans? There will never be a time when we all agree on one specific term and that’s because there is no way ALL Latinos can be put into ONE big bucket because they all come from different countries and we have our own culture. The two terms that Lauri broke down were Hispanic and Latino; Hispanic means that their family comes from a Spanish-speaking country, while Latino means they come from Latin America. The main point in understanding the terminology is that in order to approach the Hispanic market you must segment and know your target.

Lauri then explained the demographics of the Hispanic market. With a Latino population of 644,000, Washington is ranked as the 13th state with the most Hispanics. If you’ve ever made a trip east of the mountains you would think that most of these Latinos would be found in that area, however 400,000 reside in the Puget Sound. The Seattle Metro will see a 15% increase from 2007-2012 which also increases Latino buying power. An important thing we must understand is that the Hispanic population in the Seattle area is spread throughout King County and there is no such thing as a “Little Mexico,” which is probably why people have this misconception that most of the Latinos reside in Eastern Washington.

After Lauri broke down the demographics of the Hispanic market, Lourdes then described the Latino culture and what was important to us. If you plan to do business with a Latino/a you must understand that Latinos place great value on their family and their country of origin. There isn’t anything more important to us than trust, respect, and achieving that “American dream.”
  • One major difference between doing business with a non-Latino and a Latino is time management. Americans are always on the go and time is very crucial to them, on the other hand Latinos do not place much importance to time because what matters to us is that we establish trust and we feel comfortable with you no matter how long it takes. Therefore, when meeting up with a potential client you must allow extra time for social talk. Latinos love to talk about their family and their culture.
  • Plan to offer food and drink.

Make sure to use a very formal language and never relax your attire. Never assume it is okay to talk in spanish but if you are speaking spanish make sure you know the difference between “usted,” which is akin to“sir/madam” and “” which is much more informal. You never want to make the mistake of starting off with an informal approach because it could break the deal off.

There are other behavioral differences between an American and a Latino as well.

  • Latinos tend to interrupt while someone else is speaking but this is not a form of disrespect.
  • They also tend to speak with their hands and there tends to be a lack of personal space because they like the personal contact.

Now do not get me wrong; this does not mean you should invade their personal space and have a lot of personal contact because that might break the deal as well, which is what David talked about.

David has worked with Mexico for several years now. The tips he gave the audience included making sure you greet everyone in the room, and when leaving make sure to say goodbye to everyone as well. He also described how Mexicans are not as comfortable with personal contact and a hug from them means they fully trust you, so when greeting them a simple handshake goes a long way.

Once we had the discussion on Latino culture, they then talked about ways to get your business out into the Latino community.

  • Word of mouth is a very important aspect to getting exposure.
  • Become involved within the community that you plan to target and create relationships.
  • Hiring bilingual Latinos is also important because it creates credibility, opportunities and it increases your staff which in turn can increase your sales.

But most importantly make your clients feel welcomed. Latinos love to feel welcomed and tend to trust you more if you respect our customs and families.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rebranding Pepsi to Spanish Speakers

Have you heard about what Pepsi is doing in Argentina and Spain?

It's pretty amazing, really. BBDO, its agency, learned that Argentines tend to say "Pecsi" instead of "Pepsi." This is something universally known among Spanish speakers. But the agency was on to something when they leveraged this insight in its marketing to consumers in that country.

Pecsi was born. I even saw a rebranded Pecsi can, but I can't be sure they took it that far.

Now they've pulled a similar trick in Spain. But there, it's "Pesi." The ad is pretty hilarious, showing a famous soccer player pronouncing it the way ... well, the way they do. Pesi. Pecsi. It's just hard to get that second "p" in there for native Spanish speakers. I have friends from other countries who say one or other other--but I don't remember hearing "PePsi" from them, ever. Just like "picsa" (pizza).

So this is key for Pepsi: Learn how your customers are talking about you. Isn't that what social media is all about, when it comes to brands getting involved? This is the same thing, from my perspective. Pepsi shed its corporate image to talk to these consumers in their language. Brilliant, in my opinion.

My caveat here is that I don't believe this approach is something that can be taken on by brands ever category. For example, picture BMW and the version I always heard in Spain, "BMV." (I never understood that, by the way. If someone could please explain, I would very much appreciate it.) I think a premium brand would dilute its strength by succombing to the populace. Brands representing consumer packaged goods on the other hand are different in their natural positioning. They often work their way into serving as everyday nouns, despite trademarking and any other efforts those brands attempt.

But in this case, Pepsi is showing consumers that their way of interacting with the brand is important to the company.

My bet is that Pepsi, or "Pecsi," or "Pesi," has achieved a special appeal to these two national audiences in a way that really resonates.

Click here for the latest article in Ad Age on this topic and to see the spot Pepsi produced for its Spanish audience.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Latina Sororities, nothing like your average

This contribution is written by Yuritzi E. Lozano, who is a senior at the University of Washington, double-majoring in International Studies: Latin America and Spanish with a minor in Diversity.

Latina sororities first made their appearence on universities about 35 years ago, when the first Latina sorority was established at Kean University. Since then many more have been established. Unlike mainstream Greeks--fraternal organizations that must live in specified housing--these sororities are considered non-traditional in that there is no requirement to live in Greek housing.

These developed when colleges and universities experienced an influx of Latino enrollment. A need to support groups and outreach programs were at an all time high, especially that of Latina women in higher education institutions. At the time there were not many social options for these underrepresented groups. Thus, the decision to create a sisterhood which empowered and supported Latinas evolved.

For many of the women that join these sorority it is more than just a social organization, it becomes a support system that they can rely on. Many of the young Latinas that continue on to higher education are often first, second and sometimes third generation and oftentimes have had to move away from home to pursue their academic dreams.

For me it was just like that: I moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington from a small city in Eastern Washington. As first generation in higher academia I hardly knew anyone, much less about Seattle life. Joining a sorority, for me, was a way of making the UW campus smaller and created a home away from home.

Today university campuses around the nation have many different sororities on their campus. For example, the University of Washington is home to 4 distinct and unique Latina Sororities; Lambda Theta Alpha, Sigma Lambda Gamma, Kappa Delta Chi and Gamma Alpha Omega. Why the need for so many organizations that cater to this specific group? Each Latina sorority formed from the need to embody principles, values, and philanthropies that catered to their specific needs. Every one of the organizations mentioned above provides something different to its members such as community service, leadership skills, diversity, and networking skills.

At the end of the day they all provide a social aspect which allows these women to create a niche.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Latino Empowerment in the State Capitol

This contribution is written by Diana Lopez, who is a senior at the University of Washington, double-majoring in Law, Society, and Justice plus Spanish.

For five consecutive years, Latinos from all over Washington have come to the state capitol to empower themselves by meeting with lawmakers and other policital leaders, including the governor. In fact, the 5th Annual Hispanic/Latino Legislative Day is taking place in Olympia today!

The annual event is held in order to promote Latino participation in civics and provide info sessions on health, housing, education, farm worker rights and economic development. This year's keynote speaker is Gov. Chris Gregoire and free interpreting is provided during education presentations and legislature visits.

Hispanic/Latino Legislative Day is very important to the community because it reaches out to Latinos and provides them with information that may benefit their daily lives; it is also a way for them to have their voices heard. Community leaders and advocates from all over the state of Washington will be giving presentations on education issues and challanges facing the Washington Latino community. The purpose of this event is to unite the Latino voice in support of issues that affect the Latino community and learn about the legislative process.

The Hispanic/Latino Legislative Organization understands the importance of Latinos to attend from all over the state of Washington, therefore, have sponsored two chartered busses to provide transportation, one leaving from Pasco and the other from Wenatchee.