Hispanic Organization Profile: Mary Ann Gomez of the National Association of Hispanic Publications
This week’s Hispanic Organization Profile features Mary Ann Gomez, executive director of the National Association of the Hispanic Publications.
Tell us about your background in multicultural PR?
My background in multicultural PR started as a student at the University of the Pacific when I officially studied communications and unofficially learned how to create and promote multicultural events and conferences for area youth. While at Pacific, I worked for the Office of Foreign Student Affairs which expanded my knowledge and interest in intercultural relations and really another level of multicultural public relations. I learned that it’s easier to look at someone and put them in a box then to take the time to ask how you two may share common interests, stories or goals. On a personal level, coordinating events for my family was also a multicultural, multi-generational and multi-socio-economic experience in training for the unexpected details of the glamorous life in public relations.
What is the NAHP and what is the unique role that you believe the NAHP plays as a media organization that others can’t or wont? (How long has it been around, what is it known for and how many members are represented by it?)
The National Association of Hispanic Publications, Inc. (NAHP, Inc.) is a nonprofit, non-partisan trade advocacy organization that represents Hispanic publications. It advocates for the small businesses and Hispanic owned publications whether in English, Spanish or bilingual across the country including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. If you add up the circulation of the 200 member publications – everything from a daily Spanish newspaper to a monthly magazine that reaches Latinas, the combined circulation of the publications we represent is over 23 million.
NAHP was founded in 1982 to promote Spanish language publications. Newspapers and magazines are the only grassroots medium that speaks to and about Latino communities, business and civic leaders in the United States and in Latin American countries. Profiles on accomplished Latinos in business, politics and Corporate America can only be found in Hispanic publications along with stories of educational and job opportunities.
NAHP members use research findings commissioned by the association that promote the importance of Hispanic print to assist them in their daily sales calls. The NAHP board of directors, current and active publishers, advocate for federal procurement budgets to use Hispanic print to inform and educate on critical issues and programs and also knocks on the doors of Corporate America to ensure that their media mix incorporates a Hispanic print.
As a member of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, NAHP also supports and advocates for national issues effecting our Latino communities – our readers. Issues include immigration reform, health reform, higher education for all and support Latinos to serve in the President’s Administration, to name a few.
How has your perspective as a senior Hispanic PR practicioner influenced the way you are restructuring the NAHP today?
As a public relations professional, I know that misunderstood or under-communicated points of view can quickly turn into external realities that are acted on, whether researched or not, right or wrong. I’m doing a lot of listening and communicating with members, sponsors, partners, potential partners and new friends of the NAHP.
My focus as the Executive Director is to guide the growth of our organization through its membership, through partnerships to provide additional services to our members and through collaborations to expand programs that reach our external audiences, such as youth to pursue journalism and the publishing industry.
In recent years the NAHP has been forced to restructure its organization. What is being done so that both NAHP members and your partnerrs get a better return on their investment for supporting the organization?
When I was asked to interview for the Executive Director position, I did my homework. I discovered that the organization had gone through several changes from a staffing perspective and like many other non-profits, was hit with decreasing sponsor contributions. The board of directors restructured accordingly and started rebuilding the organization with the support of core members, sponsors and partners.
When I was little and had to translate for my parents, I learned that at times, no matter how scary, you just had to ask for clarification and for help. That simple understanding is what I’ve brought to the NAHP. I’ve had several face-to-face discussions with current and past sponsors to learn about their new ROI requirements, their company and personal interest in the NAHP and have asked how we can work together. The reality is that many sponsors want to work with the NAHP because they know that the organization represents media and consumers that they want to communicate with, sell to or get a vote from. Times have changed for every industry and Hispanic publishers are changing as well.
How is the NAHP colloborating with other Hispanic organizations on issues that matter to Latinos?
NAHP currently collaborates with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists through a grant from the Ford Fund to provide a summer journalism experience for bilingual students to serve as reporters for area NAHP members. I’m planning to expand the program into one that more bilingual students and NAHP members can benefit from throughout the year. Our NAHP members are small businesses. We collaborate with the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to advocate for policies that support the small business owner who employs people of all socio-economic backgrounds and provides opportunities in Latino communities. We have other partners and I continue to look for more. I believe that different points of view create exponentially better results for all involved. Therefore, I don’t turn away a conversation, because it may lead to a great partnership or program for NAHP members. As a new Executive Director, I also don’t know all the organizations that NAHP could collaborate with so if there is an organization out there that is interested in working with a great group of passionate small business Latinos to develop programs that positively impact the Latino communities or provide opportunities for our youth to train in our industry, then give me a call!
How is the Hispanic print media industry dealing with the severe recession we’ve been through and how has it impacted the way publications do business from the point of view of producing content, staff size, etc…?
The majority of the NAHP members are small business, family-run bilingual newspapers. They have not been on an island alone. They too have been hit with decreases in revenue. The members who are in big cities where big industries were impacted with downsizing and job losses, are dealing with reduced national and regional advertising dollars. Members who relied more on local advertisers are being hit because those retail locations, venues or programs were also hit and are restructuring to make their ends meet. Therefore, our NAHP members turned to more freelance reporters, tighter budgets on day-to-day expenses and downsizing office space. Some have taken their business back to their home office, have readjusted advertising rates or are developing new ways of generating advertising through events, partnerships, and yes, at times strategic trades. Some have also renegotiated with their printer, designer and/or photographer and week after week or month after month, the publication is out and people are reading them.
I have to point out that the non-Hispanic owned newspapers downsized their companies, sold parts of their business, let people go and reduced their corporate relations contributions. Hispanic owned businesses have been doing more with less for years. They have been providing important information on a daily or weekly or monthly basis with no subscription income. They have grown their publication when possible and adjusted when necessary like a good business does.
What are some strategic things PR professionals should be doing to improve their relationships with Hispanic print media in their areas?
I encourage public relations professionals to get to know the Hispanic owned publications. If you have a product, brand or program you are working on in a given DMA, then get to the know the Hispanic publications in that area because I bet you two will be able to develop a strategic impactful campaign that gets your client the ROI they’re looking for, gets you additional business and supports a Hispanic owned business who will be your supporter for a long time.
Also, get to know me! NAHP has a print agreement with Alloy Access. Next time you have a print campaign to run, call me and together we’ll figure out the markets you need to be in and based on your campaign goals, budget and ad, I and Alloy Access will develop a program for you so you don’t have to go to each market and look up each Hispanic publication on your own. Alloy Access will manage the buys, placement of the ads and tracking for you just like an advertising agency would. However, your media buy goes through the NAHP and therefore supports the goals and operations of the organization and all the while you get the benefit of running your campaign with Hispanic owned publications you were going to approach in the first place.
Lastly, because some publications have limited staff and/or space, it’s critical that you provide the story, statement or profile in English and Spanish with the appropriate logos and photographs. Pretend you covered the story for them and think of what you would want to read about and also what your client would want to see in print. It’s more than a standard press release. It means developing the story and following up with the publisher who you now know.
Can you give us a quick preview as to when and where the next NAHP national convention will be and how you are working so that it is more relevant and dynamic than ever before?
The annual Media & Legislative Summit is on October 26 – 28th at the National Press Club. The Monday kicks off with a reception at Capitol Hill and Tuesday is packed with workshops and conversations on immigration reform, health reform and the environment. There is also a luncheon where the Publisher of the Year and the Journalist of the Year will be awarded. This year’s main sponsor is Microsoft and we’re waiting to hear from the White House who are special guest will be to join us at the luncheon. There will be meetings with representatives from the Senate and Congress and NAHP members will also be meeting with select representatives from federal departments to discuss procurement opportunities.
Our national convention will be in Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 10 – 13th at the Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town, so mark your calendars for that event. The local planning committee has already developed a great program that includes local and national speakers, spectacular evening receptions, trade show and a community event on Saturday. Local and state elected officials have already committed to being involved and a golf tournament on Saturday will raise funds for our National Hispanic Press Foundation that awards scholarships to youth pursuing careers in journalism. Check on our web site at www.nahp.org for more information or call me at 202-662-7950. We are seeking sponsorships and speakers as well, so call me as soon as you can with your ideas.